Why it takes South African SMEs so long to detect a breach

  • On average it takes businesses 277 days to identify and contain a breach.
  • Local SMEs take as long simply to detect that a breach has taken place.
  • SMEs make for an easy target as they often cobble security solutions together which proves to be ineffective in many instances.

Cybercrime is a major concern for all businesses but especially for SMEs where a breach can have massive consequences.

What makes this all the more concerning is that according to Jaco Voigt, managing director of PerfectWorx Consulting, it can take up to nine months for a local SME to even detect a breach in the first place.

To put this into context, in the IBM Cost of a Data Breach report from 2022, it took organisations an average of 277 days to identify and contain an active breach. It’s taking local SMEs as much time as that to simply identify an intruder inside of the walls.

The simple reason SMEs are taking so long to detect a breach comes down to a lack of resources be that money, software or expertise.

“The bad actors have become so sly that when one clicks on that dodgy link, nothing happens immediately. A false sense of security is created, particularly at under-resourced smaller firms that often cobble together defences using consumer-grade cybersecurity solutions,” says Voigt.

The MD says that in his experience, the most common cause of a breach is stolen or compromised credentials. This makes it tougher to detect a breach as a bad actor is using legitimate credentials to conduct their misdeeds.

Of course, people are also a reason breaches happen at all. Using repeat passwords, clicking links we shouldn’t and more can lead to credentials being compromised.

One way Voigt says SMEs can protect themselves is by deploying protection at the DNS layers. This helps protect users from accessing dodgy websites hosting dangerous content or trying to steal credentials. DNS protection can also assist in defending against phishing and other similar attacks.

“Over 30 000 local and overseas customers have found that Cisco Umbrella provides the quickest, most effective way to improve the SME’s security stack. Data breaches start – and end – at the DNS layer,” states Voigt.

While cybersecurity is complex, business owners would do well to seek out expert advice and guidance as to how to secure their digital borders effectively. This will come with a cost, naturally, but the cost of a breach can get out of hand quickly, especially if regulations and laws are violated.

Remember, in South Africa, the business is responsible for any personal data that is compromised and this can lead to fines, prison time or both.

[Image – F1 Digitals from Pixabay]


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