How Can MSMEs Protect their Data from Cyber Attacks?

May 23, 2024
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Data security is the technique of preventing digital information from being corrupted,  accessed by unauthorised parties, or stolen at any time during its lifecycle. It covers every facet of information security, including securing online or cloud-based data, software programs, administrative and access controls, as well as the physical security of hardware storage devices.  

Robust data security measures, when executed correctly, guard against the threat from hackers,  or human mistakes, which continue to be the main causes of data breaches in the modern era, and safeguarding an organization’s information assets against cybercriminal activity. Implementing tools and technology that improve the organization’s visibility into where its crucial data is located and how it is used is a key component of data security. In today’s world, these technologies are automating reporting, applying protections like encryption, data masking, and redaction of sensitive files, and applying protections like encryption, data masking, and compliance with regulatory standards.

Cyber Attacks on MSMEs

With more than 6.33 crore businesses, the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector in India contributes approximately one-third of the country’s GDP. As their dependency on digital platforms grows, tight financial constraints and lack of knowledge about cyber security, force them to rely on antiquated cybersecurity solutions that are inadequate to counter fast-evolving cyberthreats. 

The mindset that small businesses “are too small to be attacked” is one of the major concerns for MSMEs cyber security. MSMEs frequently make up sizable chunks of the supply chain in India’s heavily unstructured market. Any vulnerabilities here expose partner organizations to bad players and leave back doors open for the initiation of massive attacks, which is already a problem given the weak financial and defensive capabilities.

The gap between MSMEs’ growing digital footprint and the solutions being used to safeguard it is also widening as a result of their adoption of new technology to enable work from anywhere. According to a study conducted by the cybersecurity firm Sophos, Indian enterprises paid a ransom of $1.2 million to hackers in 2021 to have their data decrypted. Such statistics are very close to a sizeable portion of Indian MSMEs’ yearly sales, which should cause concern in their heads. The results of poor MSME cybersecurity are very obvious. They can cause harm to MSMEs themselves as well as to larger corporate partners who collaborate with them.

Security Tools to Protect your Business from Cyber Attacks

In order to tackle cyber attacks, MSMEs must reevaluate their risk management strategy as fraudsters try to take advantage of this window of opportunity. Here are some crucial actions that can improve a company’s risk health and assist MSMEs in protecting themselves from fraud while developing a thorough fraud strategy:


A firewall separates one network from another, making it one of the first lines of protection for a network. Unwanted traffic cannot enter the network because of firewalls. Furthermore, users are only able to open a limited number of ports, which limits the room that hackers have to enter the system or download your data. The firewall may fully block some or all traffic, perform verification on partial or all of the traffic, or execute a verification depending on the organization’s firewall policy. Firewalls can be independent systems or integrated into other network equipment like servers or routers. Firewall solutions come in both hardware and software varieties.

Systems for backup and recovery

In order for a company to retrieve data files and resume normal operations in the event of a data breach, a backup and recovery solution is required. The backup files should typically be kept secret and encrypted, but the head of IT or system administrator must be able to easily retrieve them when necessary.

Regular backups should be done, and restoration plans should be written down so that everyone is aware of the proper sequence of events. Although backups can be done by the more comprehensive security software, they are frequently native to Mac and Windows OS.

MSMEs can use a variety of mobile backup and recovery systems to protect their data and ensure business continuity. These systems include cloud storage solutions, such as Dropbox and Google Drive, which allow users to securely store their data in the cloud. Additionally, MSMEs can also use mobile backup and recovery solutions, such as Acronis Mobile Backup and Recovery, which provide a secure and easy way to back up and restore data on mobile devices. Furthermore, MSMEs can also use mobile device management (MDM) solutions, such as AirWatch, to protect their mobile devices and data.

Antivirus Software

One of the security technologies that is most commonly used for both personal and business use is antivirus software. Although there are numerous antivirus software providers on the market, they all mostly employ the same methods to find dangerous code, mainly signatures and heuristics. Antivirus programs aid in the detection and elimination of viruses, rootkits, and trojans that can steal, alter or harm your sensitive data.

Intrusion Detection and Prevention System

Deep packet inspection software, such as intrusion and detection systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS), keeps track of network activity and logs any suspicious activity. These software programs are simple to set up to analyze system event logs, watch over network traffic, keep an eye out for suspicious activities, and send out notifications.

The IDS/IPS administrator who configures the settings often determines how the settings are configured. Receiving an alarm and taking action, typically involves some analysis.

A hacker who attempts to access file servers through malware or exploits can be stopped by data loss prevention software.

Security Information and Event Management

SIEM (security information and event management) solutions provide real-time analysis of security logs that are compiled by servers, network devices, and software programs. SIEM systems can perform event deduplication, which is the removal of multiple reports from the same instance, in addition to aggregating and correlating the events that are received. After that, actions are taken in response to alert and trigger criteria. Additionally, it frequently offers analytics toolkits that enable you to locate exactly the events that matter right now, like data security-related events. For data security investigations, SIEM systems are essential.

Access Management and Controls

Your entire IT ecosystem should adhere to the concept of “least-privilege access.” This entails giving database, network, and administrative account access to as few individuals as possible, and only to those who genuinely require it in order to perform their duties.

Benefits of Data Security

Small organizations are less vulnerable to attacks if they take data security seriously and take deliberate steps to strengthen it. When a company decides to invest in data security, there are numerous advantages.

Keeping a Step Ahead of the Competitors

Maintaining data security enables you to outperform your rivals. By safeguarding client information, you’ll boost investor confidence, which is good for your company. You must purchase current software, implement strict data policies, and maintain your data security. This will assist you in defending your sensitive data from any incoming threats or assaults.

Minimizes Further Support Costs

Without a solid data security strategy, a company faces the danger of suffering the results. In the long run, it might be necessary to make more substantial expenditures in data protection and make extra efforts to deal with the consequences. By closing any security gaps as soon as they are discovered, a business can avoid paying these extra expenses.

Data Tampering Prevention

Cybercriminals may target a company not only to steal data but also to mess with it. Data can be deleted, changed, or corrupted by hackers. They have the ability to introduce ransomware into information technology systems or even hijack processes with dangerous Trojans. The outcomes might be severe. Data security procedures substantially shield a firm.

A business’s daily operations might be significantly impacted by unreliable data security systems. The issues may cascade down the ladder, creating a series of obstacles. Strong data security protocols are essential.

Maintaining reputation

One advantage of data protection is that it protects priceless information, which is a crucial asset for any business. The ultimate contract that must be upheld by a corporation is the privacy and security of client data. Names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, bank account information, health information, and other crucial data that businesses store may be included in this. A loss of trust and business may arise from failing to protect this information. Businesses must take steps to prevent unauthorized people from accessing their data.

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How can MSMEs implement Data Security Controls?

Cybersecurity entails the maintenance and protection of data’s confidentiality, integrity, and accessibility with the goal of reducing the likelihood and impact of information security incidents and maintaining corporate productivity. By implementing and overseeing suitable controls in response to numerous possible threats, cybersecurity can be achieved. The loss of potential business is one of the difficult to measure hidden costs associated with cybersecurity breaches.

Due to the weak business practices as a whole, MSMEs frequently have employees who are more vulnerable to cyber attacks. Due to scarce resources, the leadership’s reluctance to hire the best cybersecurity professionals is frequently understandable. Therefore, it is essential to inform the staff about cybersecurity best practices. According to a study conducted by the CyberPeace Foundation (CPF), Autobot Infosec Private Limited, and the CyberPeace Center of Excellence (CCoE), nearly 2.7 lakh attack events were recorded in India on the Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) threat intelligence sensors network between April 2022 and September 2022. If workers were more cautious about how they used corporate networks to access the internet, this figure could be dramatically reduced.

Risk management is just one aspect of cybersecurity; it also provides an opportunity to assess the company’s overall health. Businesses can gain a considerable advantage over competitors by handling cybersecurity effectively, especially if they are affiliated with larger organizations that have strict procurement policies. People will be able to operate more productively and safely from cybersecurity breaches if there are clear-cut cybersecurity processes.

It is evident that Indian MSMEs are the most susceptible targets to cyber attacks despite being at the forefront of the Indian economy. As they expand, MSMEs have the chance to concentrate on cybersecurity as well as security. Standards can shield companies from online threats, enable more productive working methods, increase client confidence, and create new opportunities. All of this results in increased organizational resilience and corporate performance.

Data Storage Tools

Now that the data security and implementation process has been discussed, let’s look at how passwords and other documents can be saved on online tools without running the danger of being compromised.


The Digital India campaign offers DigiLocker as a cloud-based storage option for people to keep all of their vital documents in one location. It is used to authenticate credentials and store documents. Your PAN card, driver’s license, Aadhaar card, school mark sheets, insurance paperwork, and other vital documents can be safely stored with DigiLocker.

Features of Digilocker

  • There is no longer a need to carry physical documents because of DigiLocker, which is a digital locker for the issuance and verification of documents and certificates.
  • It assists in maintaining a secure digital copy of the original documents in the cloud and makes them available for different types of authentication upon request from the user.
  • E-documents can be pushed into the digital locker system by issuer departments.
  • Business owners may share e-documents with the government or other organizations that are registered with the government.

Digilocker on a Mobile Phone

Digilocker can be used to save digital versions of all government-issued papers. This way, a person can always carry all of his documents inside his phone and exhibit them as needed. To know how to use DigiLocker on a mobile device, continue reading:

  • Download the DigiLocker App from the Google Playstore/ Appstore.
  • Click Sign-up and enter your full name, date of birth, and Aadhaar-registered mobile number. Create a 6-digit security pin.
  • Enter the unique 12-digit Aadhaar number, and there will be two options availble: One Time Password (OTP) or Fingerprint. Either can be used to proceed.
  • Enter a username and password for the ‘Digital Locker’ account, then click the Sign-Up button.

How to Upload Documents in DigiLocker?

  • Once a person is logged in into DigiLocker, they can see an Upload Documents button. The person can click on it to move further.
  • Click the Upload button on the next screen.
  • Choose the files to be uploaded to DigiLocker and add them by clicking the Open button.
  • Documents will be uploaded to DigiLocker and can be accessed at any time whenever an internet connection is available.

ZOHO Vault

ZOHO Vault is an online password manager for teams. It enables safe password management, sharing, and storage from anywhere. Business owners can be organized while keeping your credentials safe using ZOHO Vault. It can assist MSMEs in safeguarding their credentials against unwanted access, preventing data breaches, and ensuring compliance with data privacy legislation. Furthermore, MSMEs can benefit from ZOHO Vault’s features such as multi-factor authentication, password rotation, and time-based access controls.

Say goodbye to using spreadsheets or post-it notes to keep track of your key passwords.

Benefits of ZOHO Vault

The benefits of ZOHO Vault include improved security, simplified password management, data privacy compliance, and increased productivity. With ZOHO Vault, businesses can securely store, manage, and share passwords and other sensitive data without compromising on security. It can also help organizations to control access to credentials, with features like multi-factor authentication, password rotation, and time-based access controls. Finally, ZOHO Vault can help businesses to improve their productivity by eliminating the manual process of managing passwords.

Various other benefits of ZOHO vault are as mentioned below:

  • ZOHO provides 2-factor authentication (2FA). It is a security measure that requires two different authentication methods in order to gain access to an account or system. It adds an extra layer of security by requiring the user to provide a second factor of authentication, such as a code sent to their mobile phone or email address, in addition to their username and password. This helps to ensure that only the account owner can access the account, even if their username and password are compromised.
  • Report on password assessment: Zoho Vault helps organizations assess the strength of their passwords with its built-in password assessment tool. This tool allows users to evaluate the strength of their passwords and determine whether they are secure enough to protect the organization’s data. It also provides users with tips on how to create strong passwords and keep them secure. This helps organizations to ensure that their passwords are robust enough to protect their data from unauthorized access.
  • Remote access: Zoho Vault provides organizations with secure remote access to their passwords and other sensitive data. This helps organizations to keep their data secure, even when their employees are working remotely. Zoho Vault also allows users to securely share passwords with colleagues and external users, with features like time-based access controls and multi-factor authentication. This helps organizations to easily collaborate and securely access data from any location.

Cyber Swachhta Kendra

Cyber Swachhta Kendra is part of the Digital India initiative that was launched by the Government of India in 2015. The program provides free online security services to Indian citizens and organizations, including MSMEs. These services include anti-virus and anti-malware scanning, vulnerability assessments, and security awareness training. Additionally, Cyber Swachhta Kendra also provides a platform for MSMEs to report cyber security incidents and seek help from expert cyber security professionals. Additionally, the program also provides free online security audits to help organizations identify security gaps and improve their security posture.

To use Cyber Swachhta Kendra, MSMEs first need to create an account on the platform. After creating an account, they can access the various security services offered by the platform.


Data security is a continuous process. However, the rising number of internal and external risks, in addition to the numerous data origins, call for a contemporary, cloud-based approach. Consider data security as an ongoing, corporate-wide endeavour instead.

Cybercriminals now have more resources, which has resulted in a global increase in cyber attacks, primarily on business entities. As a result, SMEs and startups have been pushed to build sophisticated cybersecurity solutions and conduct frequent cybersecurity campaigns. Staying prepared and knowledgeable safeguards an organization’s precious assets and saves it from significant financial loss.

MSMEs will be protected by data security tools from emerging cybersecurity risks in 2023. By controlling the data that is utilized in small businesses’ databases and applications, MSMEs can increase their level of protection.

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