Investing In Cybersecurity Can Save SMEs Money and Reduce Operating Expenses In The Long Run

In the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, workforces globally have adapted to remote or hybrid working models. At the end of 2021, remote workers represent 32% of all employees worldwide, presenting fresh challenges for Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), particularly in IT support and cybersecurity. While cost-cutting measures may seem prudent, overlooking cybersecurity can lead to significant financial losses.

Surveys highlight the challenges faced by SMEs in providing IT support amid the shift to remote work, exacerbated by the increasing prevalence of security incidents. Despite the clear vulnerability of SMEs to cyber threats such as ransomware and phishing attacks, as reported by CSA Singapore, investing in cybersecurity is often overlooked due to perceived costs, despite evidence suggesting its long-term cost-saving potential. SMEs, particularly those in sectors like manufacturing and retail, are targeted by cybercriminals seeking to exploit valuable data and Intellectual Property (IP) for financial gain. Many lack the resources needed to effectively counter these threats, leaving them susceptible to cyberattacks.

SMEs also often face challenges in attracting and retaining highly skilled IT professionals due to fierce competition with larger companies offering more attractive salary packages and benefits. They find themselves grappling with escalating costs and resort to cutting expenses in areas they believe can be streamlined. However, from the significant number of data breaches reported on the PDPC website, coupled with the substantial penalties imposed on non-compliant companies listed in PDPC’s Commission’s Decisions, ignoring cybersecurity investments may initially appear to save money, but the potential financial losses resulting from data breaches and regulatory penalties could far outweigh any short-term savings. While it may seem counterintuitive, investing in cybersecurity can actually help reduce overall costs in the long run.

SMEs can efficiently reduce their Operating Expenses (OPEx) for both IT support and IT security without sacrificing service quality or compromising their security posture. Here are some options to consider:

1.       Outsource Non-Core Functions

Outsourcing non-core IT support tasks such as help desk services, routine maintenance, and monitoring to specialised third-party vendors or Managed Service Providers (MSPs) can be more cost-effective than maintaining an in-house team, saving on overhead costs like salaries and benefits.

2.       Automating Routine Tasks

Implementing automation tools and scripts to streamline repetitive IT support tasks like patch management, system updates, and backups can reduce the need for manual intervention, saving time and labour costs.

3.       Prioritise Security Investments

Investing in robust IT security measures can prevent costly security breaches or data loss incidents, ultimately saving money in the long run by avoiding regulatory penalties, legal fees, and reputational damage.

4.       Provide Security Awareness Training

Educating employees about cybersecurity best practices reduces the likelihood of security incidents caused by human error, strengthening the organisation’s overall security posture and mitigating potential financial losses.

5.       Implement Cost-Effective Security Solutions

Look for affordable security solutions tailored to your needs, such as cloud-based security services, open-source security tools, or security-as-a-service offerings, to maximise protection within budget constraints.

6.       Conduct Regular Security Audits

Regular security audits and assessments help identify vulnerabilities and areas for improvement, allowing you to proactively address security issues before they escalate into costly breaches.

7.       Optimise Licensing and Subscriptions

Reviewing software licensing agreements and subscriptions regularly ensures that you are only paying for what you need, reducing unnecessary expenses and optimising IT spending.

8.       Monitor and Optimise Ongoing Costs

Continuously analysing IT spending identifies areas where costs can be further optimised, whether through renegotiating contracts, consolidating vendors, or adopting more cost-effective technologies.

By implementing the suggested strategies and prioritising cybersecurity investments, SMEs can not only protect themselves from potential financial losses due to cyber threats but also streamline their operations and enhance their overall resilience.

Safeguard your business today, because tomorrow may be too late.