Monday, May 27, 2024

Report: Web security an emerging concern for Pinoy SMEs, side-hustlers

According to a 2021 survey conducted by global Web hosting service and domain registrar GoDaddy, large corporations are not the only ones looking into Web security — small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Philippines are similarly prioritizing security for their online operations.

In a media roundtable on Thursday, Dec. 9, GoDaddy revealed that over 98 percent of its Asia Pacific SME customers consider cybersecurity important for small businesses. The 2021 Global Website Security Survey containing this finding also showed that 81 percent of the respondents consider small business at risk of cyberattacks.

The survey’s Filipino SME respondents were particularly aware of the vulnerabilities of online business. 74 percent of Pinoy SME respondents named exposure of customer data and resulting loss of customer trust as their biggest fear when it comes to website security.

Norman Barrientos, GoDaddy marketing director for Southeast Asia, said: “When we started probing and asked what would be the potential impact on their businesses of a security breach in their websites… [a] primary concern is the loss of customer trust that can be driven by other factors including unresponsive sites, or long waiting times, and data breaches that can be caused by digital security threats.”

Additionally, GoDaddy disclosed that 72 percent of Filipino SME owners indicated that time lost while fixing a security breach would have a potential impact on their business.

This is problem is especially relevant during the Christmas rush. Website protection “is very important during this time of the year for online business owners as they see gift buying sprees,” Barrientos noted.

In short, time is money during this season. Handling a security breach would take crucial time away from regular operations and result in less profit for the businesses, GoDaddy said.

The company’s further investigations revealed that over 90 percent of Filipino business owners perceive phishing and malware as the most critical threats.

Phishing is the process where attackers send messages posing as a reputable institution in order to solicit personal data from a victim. The information gathered can be used to access bank accounts or lead to identity theft.

Relatedly, malware refers to any kind of malicious software that aims to exploit programmable devices, services, or networks and is utilized to extract personal data.

GoDaddy linked the Filipino SMEs growing appreciation for online security with the increasing numbers of online SMEs during the pandemic.

The company cited DTI statistics indicating that as early as May 2021, 9,692 new business names were registered under Internet retail, which is almost 450% higher than the quarter before. Other GoDaddy data confirmed that 1 in 3 Pinoys started a venture during the pandemic.

Over half or 59 percent of the surveyed SME owners in the country already process their customers’ personal data on their websites. However, ensuring their website is secured is another matter entirely. Only 24 percent of business owners in the country actually know how to manage a cyberattack and only 37 percent know where to go for help.

On top of this, while 78 percent of business owners have researched website protection solutions, only 35 percent have both researched and purchased these solutions. Worse, 38 percent admitted that they did not know how to deal with these attacks.

GoDaddy guide Jade Christian Tamboon suggested free steps that SMEs can take to secure their customer’s data. Other than tips about password creation, he also proposed updating system applications and website software regularly, archiving old data, as well as utilizing firewall and backup monitoring services.

“A firewall can help block hacking and malware attacks from impacting your website and damaging your reputation. It can also help secure sensitive areas like the backend control panel of the websites,” Tamboon explained.

“Backup monitoring ensures that, should the worst thing happen, you always have a ready backup that will restore your website as soon as possible.”

Lastly, he suggested that businesses avail of SSL and encryption when available. Indicated by the padlock icon beside the URL in a Web browser, the SSL certificate authenticates a website’s identity and enables an encrypted connection. It ensures customers visiting the website that their transactions are secure and their data is protected.

For SMEs weighing the pros and cons of a website’s additional expense, Barrientos stressed the safety value of businesses having their own secured website.

“Having your own website allows you to funnel leads from various channels into one for closing transactions, and also gives you control in addressing customers’ need for website protections,” Barrientos said.

“GoDaddy Web Security service offerings, for example, include firewall and malware protections, as well as conducting site cleanups and secure backups.”

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