Small businesses need to safeguard their systems from the ever-present threat of ransomware and as our customers become increasingly confident with our Nebula cloud management system, more of them can install and manage an additional layer of protection themselves with Zyxel’s new Connect and Protect feature, says Patrick Hirscher, EMEA Wireless Market Development Manager at Zyxel.
Cybercrime is as much of a threat to small businesses as it is to big organisations today – and ransomware is the biggest threat of them all. It’s a real worry for SMBs that want to make the best use of technology and online services but can’t necessarily afford to spend too much on shoring up their digital defences.
Businesses like cafés, bars and restaurants, independent retailers, and small hotels – that have a considerable number of customers, visitors, or guests connecting to their WiFi all the time – can put up a captive portal to make sure users register for access and agree to terms and conditions. But without some way of monitoring and managing their online activity, it’s impossible to know what kind of websites and content they are accessing.
The usual solution to this challenge is to install a dedicated security appliance – one of our UTM Flex solutions, for example – at the gateway to the Internet. These unified threat management appliances will safeguard you against all kinds of threats. They will monitor all the requests and traffic flows moving across your connection and filter out any unsafe or undesirable websites or content.
But of course, not all smaller businesses can easily afford to purchase a dedicated security appliance. They might also feel that they don’t really need one – and they could be right. An organisation with say, one hundred or more employees who are all accessing online resources every day, might be able to justify the outlay. But when there are just a handful of staff who are online most of the time when they at work, and a succession of guests logging in for short periods every day, as you might expect in a café or restaurant – it’s not so easy to make the case.
This is one of the main reasons that we have made our Connect and Protect functionality available in the latest release of Nebula (release 13). This gives subscribers to our cloud management service the ability to block access to websites and content that might be dangerous or lead to problems later on. You can read more about this it in my blog on Nebula 13.
This really makes a difference because it safeguards against the most commonly-used techniques for getting ransomware and other malicious codes onto networks. The way they usually work is by persuading an unwitting user to click on an email that will connect them to a website, from which a malicious code will be downloaded and planted within the user’s system. By stopping users connecting to any suspicious or banned sites, Connect and Protect massively reduces the risk of that happening.
Connect and Protect is available as an add-on license with Nebula and provides a really good level of protection against threats like ransomware, but at a cost that is much lower than purchasing a dedicated security appliance.
Another big reason we brought forward Connect and Protect is that over the last few months, we have noticed more of our customers self-installing and managing their network devices. This growing confidence may be the result of smaller businesses having to do some configuration work to accommodate users who are working at home. Or it may simply be that, as Nebula makes it easier to set-up and manage devices remotely, they are carrying out these tasks independently.
We suspect it’s a bit of both. Whatever the reasons, it was a sure sign to us that if we introduced this kind of functionality into Nebula it would be welcomed and used by our customers. We could see the need and desire for additional and affordable protection and – encouraged by the confidence displayed by our customers – we pressed ahead with our development plans.
As a result, we can now offer Connect and Protect with Nebula and it’s a really useful option for those smaller businesses that want an extra layer of protection against today’s most worrying cyberthreats.