A recent article by Gartner outlined the increased spending on security for IT systems, predicting that organizations will spend up to 30% of their budget on security and allocate 10% of their IT workforce to implement those security solutions by 2017.  Much of this is due to the increasingly sophisticated tactics of cybercriminals and malware authors.  The image of the lone computer hacker writing spyware in his bedroom is a myth.  The truth is that cybercriminals are well-organized, well-funded and work in a collaborative way to achieve their goals.

While larger companies have the budgets and sizable IT staff to adjust to these rapidly evolving threats and can design unified threat management for their systems, most small to midsize businesses simply do not have those resources.  But, the writing is on the wall; a hodge podge of disparate security solutions that aren’t effectively managed and don’t operate together are not going to work.  Small business leaders have to avoid the tendency to stick their head in the sand and hope a serious malware infection or security breach passes their business by.  Instead, as Gartner’s senior vice president of research, Peter Sondergaard, states:

“You can’t control the hackers. You can control your own infrastructure by using more automation [and] more outsourcing. Simplify your systems. We must move away from trying to achieve the impossible perfect protection, and instead invest in detection and response.”

What small to midsize businesses can do is enlist the help of an IT managed service provider that is well-versed in implementing a unified system of threat detection, management and remediation solutions.  Rather than installing separate “unitasker” antivirus and security tools, a good IT security consultant firm will be able to apply a multi-layered security system where the firewall, web filtering, intrusion detection and endpoint security work synergistically to adapt to emerging threats.  Even more importantly, the MSP will be monitoring their client company’s systems around the clock for any hint of a threat, be it dormant malware or an increase in spam volume or phishing attempts in their email.  Much like any life-threatening disease, malware and security threats should be prevented if possible and detected early to afford the best possible outcome.

Another added benefit is that a managed service provider is monitoring and protecting a great many of its clients networks, and that combined experience and information helps each one of those businesses stay safer than if it were to handle its security on its own.  Because cybercriminals often take a collaborative approach to attacks, so must IT security be collaborative in its approach.

Company leaders of small to midsize businesses can choose to cross their fingers or avoid the need for more considerable investment in their IT systems, but the facts are clear.  Almost no business can run without information technology, be it computers, email, phone systems or applications.  Those systems are under attack from more well-equipped, well-funded cybercriminals than ever before.  Small businesses are easy prey for criminals, and provide a stepping stone to bigger targets.  Businesses, especially those with tight budgets, cannot ignore these dangers, but they can explore the solutions and the peace of mind that an IT managed service provider can give.