With today’s increasing data security threats, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are faced with the usual cost versus reliability decision when purchasing data security. They may prefer one over the other, depending on their business requirements for uptime, their industry, and the potential effects of a data security breach.
When it comes to protecting networks and data, companies can choose increased security, uptime, customer satisfaction and peace of mind by partnering with an IT security expert for a managed firewall service, or they can choose to go it alone to implement data security measures.
When thinking about data security, business leaders should ask themselves these important questions?
- How much downtime can I afford?
- What are the long-term consequences of a security breach or downtime?
- What is the effect on customer loyalty and sales when systems are unavailable?
- Are PCI or other compliance measures required?
- How will I keep my data security up to date?
When should an enterprise look seriously at a managed firewall service? When they know that any downtime or loss of customer data is unacceptable.
While larger organizations often prefer managed data security, size is not the most important consideration. For instance, retailers may have a headcount of less than 10 employees. However, the need for constant availability of POS systems increases the need for solid security. They often choose a managed firewall as their uptime requirements demand.
The Cost of Downtime
A study by Gartner finds that network availability and downtime are primary concerns of IT managers. Downtime costs vary by industry and those industries which depend on consumers, suppliers and distributors are hit the hardest by outages.
Downtime can happen at any time, and when it does, a business is going to incur the cost of decreased sales, damaged reputation, lost productivity and getting systems operational again, often adding up to a major unexpected expense.
A leading retail systems provider estimates that one minute of POS downtime can cost a retailer $4,700 with costs increasing dramatically during busy holiday periods. After two and a half minutes, customers become frustrated in a stalled checkout line, and almost fifty percent will defect to other retailers if they have been kept waiting longer than five minutes.
Gartner also estimates that a typical company experiences 87 hours of downtime a year. And according to Ponemon Institute’s cost of downtime study, 34% of companies reported cyberattack as a cause of downtime.
Benefits of a Managed Firewall
In working with clients around the world, eMazzanti has seen repeatedly how quickly things can happen that affect data security – hackers, malware, employee theft of data and other threats.
In a world where unexpected cyberattacks and other threats can strike at any time, eMazzanti recommends that companies contract for managed firewall services as part of an overall business continuity strategy. Most businesses agree that it’s best to be prepared for uncertainties than to be without system availability to service clients.
We don’t buy life insurance hoping that we have to use it, but it’s there to protect the people and things that we value the most. The same idea applies to managed data security services – in addition to providing operational benefits, it’s there as insurance in case you need it.
Firms with poorly managed data security are putting themselves at risk by increasing the likelihood of increased downtime and incurring the costs of a security breach, including the loss of revenue and reputation.
A remotely managed firewall security solution can easily pay for itself. An expertly monitored firewall can reduce support costs by preventing or reducing downtime, site visits and systems returned for repair.
The impact is greater in retail where even small stores can have a large number of customer-facing systems such as POS terminals, signs, wireless access points, security cameras, and other network devices.
Why Use a Managed Firewall Service?
While hackers used to target primarily large companies, the National Small Business Association recently reported that 44% of companies surveyed had been hacked. SMEs invest less in security technology than large companies, making them attractive targets.
Few are taking these basic steps to protect themselves from threats to their networks:
- Firewalls must be configured properly and systems patched with the latest security updates.
- Technology to monitor firewalls and key network components should be employed to detect and thwart online threats effectively. Monitoring systems should be capable of alerting IT support technicians to unusual network conditions and events.
- Businesses should use advanced firewall technology rather than consumer grade solutions. Data Loss Prevention (DLP), Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) and other next-generation firewall technologies can detect a wide variety of threats.
Firewall management requires a high level of expertise to prevent unauthorized access and costly data security breaches. Security appliances must be deployed, set up, upgraded and continually patched to counter the latest threats.
Security policies must be updated to maintain access controls in line with evolving business environments. Network traffic must be monitored continuously to identify and respond appropriately to threats to prevent data loss, downtime and other damage.
eCare Managed IT Security
eMazzanti’s eCare IT security solution provides 24×7 firewall administration, network monitoring, and response to security events and device failures. The comprehensive solution is backed by fourteen years of IT security expertise with technicians that are continually trained in the identification and mitigation of Internet-based security threats.
eCare managed firewall services operate to:
- Protect systems and data 24×7
- Maximize system availability
- Optimize firewall performance
- Maintain PCI compliance and other standards
- Guard POS networks from internal and external threats 24×7
- Give you more time to focus on growing the business
Organizations that rely on eCare firewall management services reduce the cost of managing and monitoring firewalls in-house, while increasing their IT security posture by relying on eMazzanti’s proven expertise.
eCare IT security services are:
Proactive – We monitor reports and make improvements to your IT environment as needed. Change control, approval, workflow management and escalation procedures deliver solutions as expected.
Fast – Empowers anyone to call anytime from anywhere. Daytime and on-call tech support is notified immediately of email support requests and calls. Problems are often fixed before you know they exist.
Sure – Whatever it takes to get you back up and keep you running… you’re covered. No haggling or waiting for claims when disaster strikes.
With eCare, mission-critical applications and data are protected around-the-clock from threats and attacks originating on the Internet. Doing it yourself or failing to update protection regularly is not only more expensive, it could severely damage a company’s reputation long term.
An Important Choice
In summary, enterprises must carefully weigh the merits of a managed firewall service based on their specific operational and business requirements. They should do their homework up front, weighing the pros and cons of going it alone or partnering with an IT security expert, while considering how critical uptime is for their business.
An outsourced IT security approach remains the strongest option for organizations that view data security as mission-critical to their success and growth of their business. Partnering with an IT security partner they can trust will ensure that the best results are achieved.
Carl Mazzanti is Co-Founder and President of eMazzanti Technologies, Microsoft’s four time Partner of the Year and one of the premier IT consulting services for businesses throughout the New York metropolitan area and internationally. Carl and his company manage over 400 active accounts ranging from professional services firms to high-end global retailers.
eMazzanti is all about delivering powerful, efficient outsourced IT services, such as computer network management and troubleshooting, managed print, PCI DSS compliance, green computing, mobile workforce technology, information security, cloud computing, and business continuity and disaster recovery.
Carl Mazzanti is also a frequent business conference speaker and technology talk show guest and contributor at Microsoft-focused events, including frequent prominent roles at the Microsoft Inspire (Worldwide Partner Conference / WPC).
Carl, a serial Entrepreneur, gives back to the community through Entrepreneur teaching engagements at Georgetown University, the company’s ocean wildlife conservation effort, the Blue Project, and Tree Mazzanti.