Three misconceptions about cloud security holding back SMEs

By Ben Schreiner, Head of Business Innovation, US SMB, Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Growth is essential for businesses of all sizes, and small and medium-sized businesses  continue to migrate their data to the cloud as a way to access better insights, scale more easily, collaborate more efficiently from anywhere, and save on IT costs. But a survey conducted by Amazon Web Services found that while SMBs are prioritizing moving data to the cloud, they’re not equally prioritizing security. In fact, 35 percent of respondents answered that security wasn’t a strategic priority.

Without security as a strategic priority, businesses may be moving forward with a minimal security footprint. And that’s a big concern given the rise in frequency and complexity of cyber events aimed at SMBs. A smart business protects itself and opens up opportunities to experience reduced downtime, retaining trust amongst its customer base, and promote growth.

Results from the survey indicated three misconceptions about the capabilities of the cloud that could be preventing SMBs from making security a priority. Let’s take a closer look.

Misconception #1: Security is costly and not a top initiative

Thirty-five percent of survey respondents said that investments in security weren’t a strategic priority. A big indicator of this fact is that 41 percent of those surveyed haven’t provided any security training to their organizations, and only 43 percent have plans to provide training within the next 12 months.

Business owners such as you have a lot of competing priorities. On any given day, their attention may be focused on cash flow and funding, recruiting talent, or deciding which technology investments are going to help drive the most productivity. Naturally, they want to invest in areas that will directly impact profit. For example, marketing to acquire new customers, human resources initiatives to hire and retain talent, or software systems to monitor productivity and identify opportunities for improvement. Through that lens, security might seem like an added cost rather than a clear revenue or growth driver.

Investing in security is an essential piece of a business’s growth strategy that directly contributes to the organization’s success. Stronger security can help companies safeguard themselves against incidents, mitigate risk, and avoid downtime. This can help them sustain revenue, maintain customer trust, and clear the path for growth. Therefore, investing in security should be viewed through the same lens as investing in any other part of a growth strategy. There are solutions that support strong security for SMBs, even with their limited budgets. For example, at AWS:

  • Customers inherit the security, controls, and certifications of cloud infrastructure, helping them meet their unique security requirements at scale.
  • Automated compliance and security capabilities help continuously monitor compliance requirements, even in highly regulated industries such as healthcare or financial services.
  • Managing security with AWS can be more cost-effective than on-premises since the need for a business to have its own physical servers or storage devices is eliminated and pay-as-you-go pricing models are offered, creating cost savings that companies can reinvest in new initiatives.

Establishing a secure and scalable foundation prepares businesses for growth today and in the future. Wallester, an SMB fintech services firm, is a great example of how this comes to life. By embracing cloud security, the company has seen five times year-on-year organizational growth and expanded to multiple regions while keeping operational costs low.

Misconception #2: Data in the cloud isn’t as secure as on-premises

When asked about security risks, 50 percent of respondents indicated some degree of concern about the security in the cloud and viewed migration as a risk. While on-premises solutions may seem like the more familiar—and therefore safer—choice, the cloud offers a more flexible and scalable way to manage security compared to on-prem solutions. At AWS, we protect the actual infrastructure while SMBs focus on what’s actually stored in the cloud through our Shared Responsibility Model. AWS also helps its customers such as you automate security checks against industry standards and best practices.

Securing data in the cloud doesn’t just help keep data safe. With less time spent worrying about security, teams have more time to focus on meaningful work. For healthtech company DeepThink Health, this means more time to connect patients with the right care. Since moving its data to the cloud, DeepThink Health can quickly find patients with certain gene mutations and identify the right patients for a clinical trial—all while consistently meeting its security objectives and reducing the time needed to safeguard sensitive data by over 30 percent. As an SMB in a regulated industry, they appreciate such critical features.

Misconception #3: Businesses need a large IT team and extensive resources to maintain strong security

When asked to rate their understanding of the company’s security, risk, and compliance requirements, nearly one-third (30 percent) of respondents acknowledged that they are aware of the requirements, but not sure how to manage them. Additionally, 40 percent of respondents reported a lack of skilled staff as a barrier holding them back from investing in security. In other words, businesses are struggling with managing security and think they need to grow their IT teams or budgets in order to manage it in the cloud. But this isn’t the case.

In reality, managing security on-premises is more complex and time-consuming than in the cloud. On-prem usually means working with manual, siloed, and time-consuming processes, so business leaders think they need to grow their budget or headcount to stay secure. Meanwhile, with the cloud, they can automate processes and strengthen security without additional resources. Cloud-based security lets businesses take advantage of automated threat detection and remediation—while scaling securely as business needs and industry regulations change. Solutions like AWS Security Hub deliver a unified and holistic view of security, helping companies to move from a reactive to a proactive security stance. The cloud can also help protect critical assets through multifactor authentication and role-based access control.

Updating their IT infrastructure can help businesses scale securely, no matter the size, skills, or location of their team. Mexico-based SMB software company weetrust is strengthening security with a 50-person team—all working remotely. The company built its entire security infrastructure on AWS and has been able to scale securely since day one. By managing security with AWS Security Hub, Amazon GuardDuty, and Amazon Inspector, weetrust has saved more than 20 hours each month.

Final thoughts

To move forward, SMBs need to leave cloud misconceptions behind and see the cloud as a business grower—not a business risk. Cloud-based security provides the capabilities to safeguard data more safely, efficiently, and cost-effectively compared to less flexible on-prem environments. Learn more about the value of securing your SMB on AWS Smart Business or request to speak with a specialist.