January 5, 2022
For many firms, the new calendar year is a catalyst for revising frameworks and resetting objectives.
Whether it be expansion plans, recruitment strategies or project tenders, a fresh 12 months means a blank canvas upon which to capture much progress. Amid those goals, however, sits an omnipresent threat, one that if left undetected holds great potential to undermine even the most considered of annual growth blueprints: a cyberattack. As the world increasingly relies on technology, businesses must ensure their systems are robust and able to detect security breaches and ransomware incidents as they happen. International headline-grabbing attacks, such as the assault on Poly Network – wherein a hacker stole cryptocurrency worth £433 million – the hundreds of attempted strikes on UK COVID-19 vaccine research organisations, and the very recent targeting of Spar’s till and IT systems, emphasise the volatility faced by operators.
A good number are fighting back. Late last year, for example, professional services firm Accenture revealed plans to create 3000 UK jobs, with many of the posts focused on cybersecurity and data operations. Its great rival PwC is making equally proactive moves, pushing ahead with a pledge to hire 100,000 staff globally, which will see a significant amount of people take on technology positions. But for those who aren’t clients of the likes of Accenture and PwC, what are their options? Because the more the larger organisations get protected, the more SMEs will be targeted.
One company helping the latter ensure their online defences remain resilient is Melius Cyber. Specifically focused on protecting SMEs, the Newcastle-based firm has built, and now operates, market-leading cyber counterintelligence software that detects security breaches and ransomware attempts within one day – the market average is 229 days.
Bolstered by a team of acknowledged industry experts, it helps business’ IT teams plan and prepare for a cyberattack, with its in-house technology the only software at an SME price point able to detect breaches. “It all starts with a breach – a breach you will never know has happened until it is too late,” says Eldon Jobe, Melius’ chief commercial officer. “Whether you are an enterprise organisation or an SME, a simple undetected breach is where the nightmare starts, and more than 95 per cent of breaches go undetected. “So, SMEs must start realising they need to do something about the situation. “Because for many, their IT support is not protecting them properly; that’s not a criticism, they’re just not geared to do it. “They need specialist support, and our system provides that. “A burglar alarm doesn’t stop your house getting burgled, but an IP camera helps to detect the burglary, and our software works in a similar way.” As well as providing rapid alerts to any security compromises, though, Eldon says Melius’ software provides crucial assistance that allows firms to continue running operations, even in the immediate aftermath of a cyberattack.
He says: “More and more people are talking about cyber security in their board meetings, but a good number still don’t know what to do about it. “Many still think it is too expensive, so they don’t address the issue. “What we provide, though, is enterprise level technology and cover at SME pricing that delivers a crucial bridge for businesses to maintain continuity. “A lot of companies have grown in recent months and years, but they must ensure technology grows with them. “Essentially, if something was to go wrong, and they were hacked, do they have a cyber disaster recover plan in place to ensure business continuity?” Eldon says Melius’ support is similarly invaluable to Financial Services Authority-regulated firms, which carry out at least one penetration test a year to ensure data protection processes are sufficiently strong.
He says: “The test is great, but it does cost a lot of money, and a month later that business might experience a breach, and they won’t know about it. “What we provide for these companies is continuous system assessment and monitoring – to penetration test level – that allows us to detect when, not if, they get breached. “Why have one penetration test a year when you can have 365 tests per year for the same cost?” And Eldon says such ability will prove increasingly important due to the “trickle-down effect” hitting the SME market.
With companies such as Accenture building teams to create ever-stronger technology barriers, he says it means smaller operators must heighten their guards too. “If the enterprise companies are being covered by the likes of Accenture, Deloitte and KPMG, and they can recognise a breach earlier, the hackers won’t look at them,” says Eldon, who reveals Melius will recruit new staff next year to meet rising demand.
He continues: “Instead, they will turn to SMEs, because it is easier to take more, smaller, amounts of money from them. “SMEs are a big target; you don’t hear so much about attacks on them because, in a lot of cases, people don’t know their names, but it is happening, and it costs a lot of money. “Many SMEs still ask, ‘why would they go after me?’, and the simple answer is that hackers look for anything to attack, and unfortunately a lot of SMEs represent a soft target.” He adds: “And hackers aren’t just guys in hoodies in their bedrooms, either. “Hacking, in some countries, is seen as a ‘proper business’, where people work between 9am and 5pm for organisations that have been set up to focus purely on cyberattacks. “They make their money by stealing it from other companies, and that is why it is absolutely vital SMEs take action to increase their vigilance. “At present, a lot are not well enough protected, but we are here to help and provide the trusted and expert support they need.”