IBM plans to step up cybersecurity awareness among small and medium Indian businesses through its different co-innovation activities with start-ups. The IT major — which is working with nearly 1,200 start-ups in the country to get expertise for its enterprise clients and offering them its cognitive, cloud platforms — foresees faster adoption of cybersecurity solutions amongst start-ups since a majority of them are ‘born on cloud’. The company said start-ups and technology-enabled small businesses would require end-to-end data security solutions as more such firms are developing applications on the cloud from ‘day one’. Seema Kumar, country leader, developer ecosystem and start-ups, at IBM India and South Asia said IBM would focus on creating more awareness at multiple levels of its start-up collaboration. “When we work with them as technology partner, security is not an afterthought. It is part of the conversation. Security is inbuilt into a lot of the cloud offerings that we have…We have also built a lot of awareness and that is resulting in a focused discussion on security. There is far more that we can do given the nature of digital business that we are in; it is going to really pick up much better from start-ups looking at IBM as helping them from a security perspective,” said Kumar in an interview. She said that IBM works with start-ups, both at early stage and with the ones who would like enhance security after having built their products. As start-ups and small businesses deal with customer data of millions, cybersecurity should be considered as a part of their key strategies, said Seema taking reference of Zomato’s data breach. As many as 17 million users’ information was reportedly ‘leaked’ from Zomato and was up for sale on the dark web in May this year. “Sometimes you only see the incidents and (but) it ( the damage) can run into millions of dollar. For start-ups dealing with a lot of data the damage could be volatile,” said Seema. The average cost of a data breach for the Indian companies has grown from Rs 9.73 crore in 2016 to Rs 11 crore in 2017 in India, said a joint study by Ponemon Institute and IBM. The study however does not have specific numbers on the start-ups or small businesses. IBM claims the efforts of data theft are getting stronger and institutionalised, resulting in the need for advanced security for small firms.
The fact that such businesses are building products and intellectual properties (IP) is creating a need for end-to-end security. “It is not just basic encryption. But data security, application security, security of the cloud you are hosted. Maybe on day one, you may not have the requirement to look at it, but it will eventually come in. When you are dealing with a large amount of customer data which needs to be sensitive, it has to be in your core structure. Today, the way it is going is a large and stronger workforce out there who are collaborating in terms of penetrating the system. You always have to be two steps ahead...Start-ups have better understanding now”.