The global pandemic has spurred an onslaught of data breaches and cybersecurity incidents. It’s not a surprise because hackers, fraudsters, and scammers have always been opportunistic. And disruptive events have always created opportunities for malfeasance.

According to the FBI, the volume of cyberattacks has increased by 400 percent since the beginning of the pandemic, with upwards of 4,000 incidents being reported every day. And certain tactics like ransomware attacks are up 800 percent.1

Unfortunately, small businesses are a common target.

Without the resources and expertise to have a comprehensive cybersecurity program, many small businesses are unprepared to identify and mitigate an attack. Even with firewalls and basic security solutions in place, protecting users, applications, and data can be extremely difficult. And it has become even more difficult with more employees working beyond the firewall and more applications hosted in the cloud.

The perils of DIY security

While a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach can be tremendously risky for small businesses, a managed security service (MSS) can be prohibitively expensive, particularly when cash flow is critical to survival. That’s why many small businesses are choosing a blended option: cloud-based, self-managed security with upfront consultation and implementation assistance.

“Companies with one or two IT people typically can’t afford a dedicated cybersecurity specialist and many can’t afford a full-blown managed service,” says Omar Zarabi, founder and CEO of Port53 Technologies. The San Francisco-based company is a Cisco partner that focuses on helping small businesses deploy enterprise-grade, cloud-delivered security solutions.

Zarabi says, “Fortunately, cloud-based solutions like Cisco Umbrella are easy to deploy and simple to manage. They don’t require coding, security expertise, or continuous monitoring. So we help our clients get the right solutions in place and then we pass the baton.”

Pandemic validates IT modernization

According to Zarabi, the pandemic revealed a clear delineation between the companies that have modernized their IT infrastructure and those that continue to rely on older systems.

“We support a wide range of customers and verticals,” he says. “Across the board, their ability to adapt was directly tied to their stage of digital transformation.”

The companies that had cloud-based solutions like Cisco Umbrella, Cisco AMP for Endpoints, Cisco Meraki, Cisco Email Security, Duo Security, and Cisco Cloudlock were able to make the shift to remote work and extend their security capabilities beyond the firewall in a matter of days. Conversely, those that had security software and file servers on legacy systems faced a much more difficult, multi-week transition.

“It didn’t matter what industry they were in or how big they were,” Zarabi says. “What mattered was how far they were with infrastructure modernization, cloud utilization, and the alignment between the two.”

For small businesses wanting enterprise-grade security and seeking a middle ground between DIY and MSS approaches, Zarabi suggests a free trial of Cisco Umbrella.

“Cisco, through Port53, extends full-access trials of their cloud-security portfolio,  which allows companies to get familiar with the platforms, as well as to see the security solutions live in their environment.” he says. “We can help with implementation, integration, and training. And if you decide to buy, Cisco Capital has financing options for small businesses that align with cash flow realities and minimize upfront costs.”

It’s a low-cost, low-risk way to evaluate the latest security solutions, protect a small business, and weather the current storm.

For more information


  1. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/top-cyber-security-experts-report-4-000-cyber-attacks-a-day-since-covid-19-pandemic-301110157.html


Andy Scholl

Marketing Manager- Small Business Segment

Small Business Marketing