Verizon’s Mobile Security Index Report Says Small Businesses Are Vulnerable


Almost half of the businesses in a new survey reported remote lockdown practices rattled their cybersecurity. A smaller percentage of the same group pointed to mobile devices as the biggest culprits.

Small Business Trends contacted Senior Vice President for Nationwide Small Business & Channel Chief at Verizon Business Wendy Taccetta. She explained the Verizon Mobile Security Index 2021 and how SMBs have left themselves exposed.

“Small businesses were highlighted in this year’s report,” she writes. “As the nationwide shutdown continues to impact them, many organizations have decided to digitally transform using mobile.

This year’s report explores some of the specific challenges facing small businesses and how the increase in “work from home” has affected their security readiness.”

Verizon Mobile Security Index 2021

Two of the bigger takeaways were the 49% who responded saying lockdown remote working practices adversely affected their cybersecurity.

Another 40% blamed mobile devices. The index is in its fourth year. It provides insights on current cyber threats in the mobile landscape and what businesses need to do.

This year’s numbers are based on survey responses from more than 850 industry professionals. And 13 security and law enforcement agencies.

COVID-19 Pandemic Cyber Attacks

“Unique to this year’s report are insights into how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected organizations large and small nationwide,” Taccetta says.

The data also looks at how working from home has affected small business security. One of the problems highlighted is the way SMB’s use the same tools for daily operations as bigger players. But with fewer resources.

Mobile Device Threats

“In fact, the majority (88%) of small business respondents said that they are concerned about mobile device threats, with 43% rating their risk as high or significant,” Taccetta says. That’s important because losses for small businesses can mean shuttering the doors for good.

As well, 65% of the respondents recognize they had more to lose from a security breach than bigger companies.

Taccetta says the problem is layered.

“We see it as two-fold. Small businesses risked compromise because of having to cut corners when moving their operations to the cloud to accommodate remote work. And they generally do not have the in-house IT prowess of larger businesses.”

The numbers bear that out.

In fact, 77% of respondents reported pressure to sacrifice security to “get the job done.” A further 59% gave in citing the COVID-19 crisis as the biggest reason.

The 2021 Verizon Mobile Security Index had some other interesting findings.

  • Like the fact 71% of small business respondents reported working from home moved cybersecurity up on their agendas.
  • a further 65% said cloud-based services are helping them compete with bigger players.

Taccetta highlighted some of the report’s recommendations.

“Small businesses should set and communicate all password policies,” she says. “And provide employees with regular training, highlighting ways to report suspicious behaviors.”

They should also establish an acceptable use policy for bring your own device users. This is important to prevent security breaches since employees take devices like smartphones home with them.  The report also offered up another excellent password suggestion. This can apply to SaaS software.

Different Devices

“Small businesses should change all default and vendor-supplied passwords,”  Taccetta says. “And avoid using the same passwords on different devices.”

Threat detection software can help head off potential future attacks.

“If a mobile security breach happens, small businesses can be crippled by the aftermath. They can find it difficult to bounce back from the financial losses,” she says. “In fact,  65% of small business respondents said that they have more to lose from a security breach than larger enterprises.”

Image: Verizon

Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. He is a graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Journalism degree. His print credentials include employment with various Toronto area newspapers and three works of fiction: The Apple Lady (2004), Creekwater (2006) and Sophistry By Degrees (2008) published by Stonegarden Press In California.