Think for a moment: if your business was to suddenly go offline, would you still be able to process payments? Would you be able to contact your customers and have your customers contact you? Would you be able to access important files and data? And, most importantly, would you be able to get yourself back up and running with minimal impact?—You’d be surprised how many SMEs would have to say ‘no’.
Businesses are reliant on the internet
From emails and accounting, to team collaboration and video chat, it’s a fact that most businesses need to be online simply to get things done. But it doesn’t just stop with common business practices, the internet is also a key player when it comes to reaching customers and providing them with the customer service they expect.
Yet, for all its importance, an outage can strike at any time—constructions accidents, natural disasters, old-fashioned equipment failure and, increasingly, cyber-attacks, can all conspire to bring your business to its knees.
Even huge corporations can fall prey. This was certainly the case with British Airways in 2017, when a power failure downed their systems and stranded thousands of passengers, costing them an estimated $150 million!
And therein lies the crux of the matter: internet downtime costs your business money. Every time. Not only do you lose revenue if your payment systems go down, but think about the costs involved in tech support, staff overtime (or wasted time!), and, if your industry is heavily regulated, the penalties for not being able to deliver to your customers.
All this doesn’t even begin to factor-in the negative impact that outages can have on your brand’s reputation and customer loyalty!
Don’t overlook the increasing threat of cyber-attacks
The ugly head of cyber-crime is popping up more and more to compromise your systems and interrupt your internet connection. And don’t think New Zealand is immune! In its most recent update, Cert NZ (New Zealand’s cybersecurity agency) recorded more than 3000 cybersecurity incidents in the first six months of 2020, with an estimated financial loss of $8 million—a 42 percent increase in the same period for 2019!
In August 2020, the GCSB (Government Communications Security Bureau) issued a warning for all Kiwi businesses to ‘be prepared’ after the stock exchange suffered five days of internet outages linked to cyber-attacks, and F&P Appliances, Lion, Toll Group, the University of Auckland, Westpac, and The Met Service, were all hit with ransomware attacks.
While large-scale attacks are often targeted towards bigger organisations, SMEs can still fall prey. Cert NZ reported that nearly half of those cyber-breeches recorded were phishing-related, whilst scams and fraud accounted for another third—all dirty tricks designed to target your business regardless of its size.
And what about Natural disasters?
While we’re on the subject of business catastrophes, let’s not forget the events that are completely beyond your control. Earthquakes, floods, fires, pandemics, all have the potential to rip through your infrastructure and leave you limping around offline and in the dark.
Without solid backup plans, many businesses find themselves simply unable to recover.
Make sure you have a plan B
Okay, we know you probably have a ‘to-do’ list a mile-long, and planning for events-that-may-not-even-happen is easy to relegate to the bottom. But don’t get caught out. Statistics show that only 64% of New Zealand SMEs have a robust contingency plan in place (Digital Journey), which leaves an alarming number without a backup if the worst were to happen.
Prevention can be better than the cure
When it comes to cybersecurity, being ill-prepared turns you into an easy target and actually increases your risk of attack. Think about it, who would you try to rob: someone with state-of-the-art security in place, or someone who’s left their backdoor wide open?
Take the time to assess your systems; find out how your defences stack up and what you can do to sharpen them with Digital Journey’s free cybersecurity assessment (link).
Don’t forget, staff awareness is also a crucial factor in your cyber-defences. Studies put human error as the number-one cause of cyber-breeches—some even claiming it accounts for over 90%!—which makes it vital that both you and your staff know how to spot the most common scams in your sleep!
Phishing emails: often claiming to be from reputable companies, phishing emails are designed to trick you into either handing over sensitive information (such as login credentials, credit card details, account numbers etc.), downloading infected attachments, or following links to fake websites.
They can be increasingly hard to spot but a great place to start is to check the email address of the sender. Genuine company emails will have the company name after the ‘@’ in the email address. For example: ‘accounts@PayPal.com’ would be trustworthy, ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ would not.
Text scams: Much like phishing emails, fake text messages can trick you into handing over sensitive information or clicking on compromised links. Most phones have some systems in place that allow you to filter out unwanted text messages, or even stop them before they reach you.
IT scams: For those businesses that outsource some of their IT services, employees can receive calls from people claiming to work for these services, requesting passwords or instructions for how to download software that gives them unauthorised access into your systems.
In the end, no matter what contingencies you have in place, choosing a reliable internet connection that exceeds your needs, from a provider that won’t let you down, can be one of the most crucial steps to ensuring smooth-sailing for your business.
Fibre broadband is a good place to start but it’s also worth quizzing your provider to ensure you have your plan is a Chorus business grade fibre connection designed specifically for business rather than residential use.
With business grade fibre you get a Business restore feature which means if there’s ever any physical network issues, your fault is prioritised to get you back up and running with minimum impact.
Plan for the worst, hope for the best!
Take a proactive stance. Invest now to safeguard your connectivity and ensure you can continue to function if your internet goes down, whatever the reason. You’ll be saving your future-self time, money, and many, many headaches!
Chorus is a Festival Partner of Techweek 2021.