Servers & Systems: The Right Compute

No time for downtime: The role of server upgrades in cybersecurity for small businesses

Server upgrades are critical for small businesses to ensure security and keep their networks running. Learn why SMBs put off upgrades and how these delays can be more costly in the long run.

Server upgrades are critical for small businesses to ensure security and avoid network downtime. Yet paradoxically, the risk of downtime is one of the reasons small businesses often put off performing these upgrades; they want to avoid the hassle and business disruption a server migration would cause. Failing to upgrade servers, however, can ultimately create far greater disturbances.smeserverupgrades_blog.jpg

Why SMBs avoid making server upgrades

Small businesses often find themselves strapped for cash, and upgrading or replacing old servers frequently gets pushed down the to-do list when more pressing—or more affordable—needs arise. If their servers still run, a business is able to rationalize putting off an upgrade.

Lack of personnel is another reason upgrades are often avoided. Due to having smaller budgets, SMBs often have few or no dedicated IT staff, which means they need to contract with outside vendors to accomplish upgrades. This outsourcing can be costly, as can the time required to find and vet vendors. Yet hiring in-house staff and having them devote hours to a server upgrade is generally out of the realm of possibility for most small businesses.

Finally, small and midsized businesses worry about the downtime involved in upgrades. A downed network can be inconvenient and costly, especially for a small organization.

While all these concerns are valid, the security risks a business exposes itself to by holding onto old servers are ultimately far more costly and damaging.

The security risks of delaying upgrades

Putting off upgrades can result in security risks that may prove too costly for a small business to withstand. Here are the key risks in delaying hardware upgrades:

  • No support for end-of-life operating systems: On January 14, 2020, support for both Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 ends. After this time, companies using either of these versions—and the outdated hardware they run on—will need to pay high fees and make a three-year commitment in exchange for three more years of support.
  • Damaging security vulnerabilities: Cybercriminals are well aware of the vulnerabilities in older hardware, so small businesses must stay vigilant to apply patches and updates to old servers. Even when properly patched, however, outdated servers simply can't protect against advanced attacks to the degree that a modern server can.
  • Data breaches and ransomware attacks: According to com, the average cost of a data breach for an SMB is $149,000. Few small businesses could afford such a sum. Servers are rich targets for malware, ransomware attacks, and other types of data theft. Investing in upgraded servers with built-in security is ultimately far less costly than suffering a cyberattack.

Easing the server upgrade process

Follow these tips to ease the server upgrade process and to keep your business as secure as possible with minimal stress:

  • Search for built-in security features: Firmware is the next frontier for cybercriminals, so secure servers are crucial for the long-term health of small and midsized businesses. They also lessen the amount of additional security you'll have to invest in. Look for servers that come with built-in security options, like HPE ProLiant Gen10 Servers. These offer firmware threat detection that relies on HPE's Silicon Root of Trust, a feature that ensures servers won't boot with compromised firmware.
  • Work with vendors that stay vigilant to vulnerabilities: Server vendors and migration partners can help ensure you perform the most secure upgrade possible, helping keep watch for vulnerabilities and offering patches and updates to protect against them.
  • Use a subscription service to help pay for server technology: New servers don't have to break the bank. A subscription service allows you to take advantage of hardware updates on a set schedule for a set fee.

Delaying server upgrades might be tempting, but it can ultimately make your business and customers vulnerable to ruinous breaches and hacks. Selecting secure servers, trustworthy vendors, and smart payment plans can help smooth the transition to modern servers.

Learn more about HPE Small Business Solutions.

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Ronda Swaney.pngMeet Server Experts blogger Ronda Swaney. Ronda is a content marketer focusing on IT, technology, and healthcare for CXOs, consultants, and entrepreneurs. She advises clients on how to best communicate their messaging by taking complex material and simplifying it to engage both tech geeks and the uninitiated. Connect with Ronda on Twitter: @RondaSwaney

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