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As technology continues to become a bigger part of our personal and professional lives each day, businesses are inadvertently opening themselves up to potential risks as more data and personal information is gathered.
BizTimes reporter Ashley Smart recently spoke with Tina Chang, chief executive officer of Brookfield-based IT firm SysLogic and a speaker at BizTimes Media’s Economic Trends Event on Jan. 27, about how businesses can be more aware of possible threats.
BizTimes: Heading into this new year, how big of an issue is cybersecurity for small and mid-size companies?
Chang: “I think the obvious answer is that this is a huge issue and it’s especially getting to be more and more of an issue as businesses are realizing that they’re introducing more automation, technology and digital strategies to just stay competitive. As you continue to do that, you are making cybersecurity more of an issue for yourself. I don’t necessarily believe when businesses think about staying competitive — when they think about ‘How do I become more innovative in my business model?’ — do they necessarily think about what risks it might introduce.”
BizTimes: Why don’t businesses prioritize cybersecurity as much as they should?
Chang: “I think small and medium-sized businesses, and you can even take this to the individual level, they start with, ‘Well this won’t happen to me. Why would they care about my business when they could go attack somebody so much larger or more meaningful or who has more data?’
“To me, that is such a dangerous position because if you’re not protecting yourself today, you’re opening yourself up to potential vulnerability a decade from now. You don’t necessarily know if there are ways people can embed themselves into your environment today to do something down the road. I think we end up hearing about the one or two big (hacking incidents) because there is regulation that forces large companies to have to report to the government. We don’t hear how frequently our small-to-medium-sized peers are getting breached because we don’t have to share those stories with each other.”
BizTimes: What are some of the first steps businesses and individuals can take to protect themselves?
Chang: “Knowing that smaller and medium-sized businesses do not have a big budget to do everything they probably should be doing, it is a combination of purchasing some basic tools together with awareness, employee training and really good business processes that protect your own ability to create your own vulnerabilities. Think about the employee that didn’t necessarily mean to do any harm but clicks on a link in an email and gives information that all of a sudden opens up the ability for malware or a virus to enter the ecosystem. There’s so much we can prevent just with good behavior.”
BizTimes: How has SysLogic fared throughout the pandemic?
Chang: “I think what the pandemic brought in sending everybody home was a general awareness on our reliance and efficiencies that can come from technology. You had entities all of a sudden aligning more of their budgets to technological initiatives. From that perspective, we obviously were able to just increase our fair share of budget because of what was happening within society. Beyond that, we were prepared as a technology company to go remote — no surprise there. It was really not a hard change for us at all. Our challenge with working remote was with clients who didn’t necessarily feel the same way. What the pandemic did was it forced them to be comfortable with remote work. The acceptance of remote work and ability to serve them did not go away because they had to do it. All of a sudden, this idea of doing remote work for a much larger market became realistic. In 18 months, we went from being in three states to now eight states. We’re now a national company.”
BizTimes: How do you see the issue of cybersecurity continuing to evolve in the coming years?
Chang: “I don’t know if it’s about cybersecurity evolving, but the expectations for society to focus on cybersecurity will continue to evolve at a rapid pace in areas that we didn’t normally think about. Did a consumer ever think about needing their smart refrigerator to also be a product to protect their privacy? Did we ever think as we were selling goods online that a consumer might now think about where companies are sharing their data? I think the largest changes are going to come from the consumer experience and their expectations on privacy and how that affects businesses and the products they offer.”