SMB customer insights: cybersecurity

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This is the third blog in a series exploring the findings of Microsoft’s SMB Voice and Attitudes to Technology Study. Parts One, Two, Four, and Five are available on the partner blog.

In industry conversations with small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), cybersecurity is a topic that leaders regularly raise as a top concern. Hardly surprising when the average cost of a security breach for a small business is $108,000, according to a 2021 article in Security Magazine. These businesses find themselves targeted by increasingly frequent and sophisticated cyberattacks. A recent Microsoft survey of this audience indicated that nearly 25% of SMBs had a security breach in the last year — often with devastating results. The harsh reality is that 60% of all small business victims of a data breach permanently close their doors within six months of that data breach. 

As part of our recent SMB Voice and Attitudes to Technology Study, we explored the security needs of this audience to better understand how our partner network can offer support. With cyberattacks against SMBs forecast to be on the rise — and a corresponding surge in spending on security solutions also predicted — now is an urgent time for us to demonstrate our commitment to customers and help them protect their networks. In today’s blog, we’ll turn our attention to the cybersecurity space and take a closer look at the most relevant research.

SMB customers are making security a priority

Our SMB customers are readying themselves for a future that demands stronger security. Over 70% of SMBs think cyber threats are becoming more of a business risk, aligning with a prediction from IDC that by 2024, one-third of SMBs will experience security breaches quarterly, causing business disruptions of at least one week per quarter.

Although 80% of SMBs report having shored up their defenses with some form of antivirus solution, 93% continue to harbor concerns about increasing and evolving cyberattacks — with phishing, ransomware, and data protection being top of mind. As such, when it comes to selecting any new technology, security and reliability are often listed among business decision makers’ highest priorities. Forty percent of SMBs report these two as the most important factors in their selections, a number that rises to 47% among USA-based respondents. These results suggest that customers are seeking solutions that “just work” without excessive complications and are secure enough to protect their precious data. Approaching customers with a pragmatic understanding of ongoing threats will help partners deliver effectively personalized security solutions.

Partners have the keys to stronger protection

All of this makes security a major area where partners can assist SMB customers with specialized knowledge and support. Most SMBs tend to employ generalist personnel who can focus on day-to-day issues like systems management and maintenance versus internal IT-dedicated staff. This means that 45% of SMBs still rely on external partners to provide specialist support. Given that less than half of the SMBs surveyed had a dedicated cybersecurity person in-house, it’s very likely that many organizations are specifically looking for a partner to provide security support.

In recognition of the threat landscape that our SMB customers face, Microsoft has been very intentional in creating security products well-suited to smaller businesses, such as Microsoft Defender for Business and Microsoft 365 Business Premium. But we know our partners are key in how we scale and support customers with holistic solutions, and in addition to developing SMB-focused products, we have also launched the “Do More with Less for SMBs” campaign and promo, which provides you with resources about the partner opportunity, a Promo FAQ, and social media templates to help your customers address the increasing challenges without breaking their budget.

From simple tips and tricks to more sophisticated solutions, it is imperative that partners understand how to help SMBs secure their businesses. By working together, we can protect the growth of this important market segment, empower them to drive economic change, and protect the ecosystem as a whole. I hope you’ll visit the full SMB Voice and Attitudes to Technology Study to get to know these customers and stay tuned for future blog entries in our SMB customer insights series.

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