Cyberpreneurship is a phenomenon unique to the digital age, having originated from the fusion of cyber—a prefix that symbolizes digitization of established systems; and entrepreneurship, the commercial backbone shaping modern economies. Following this logic, cyberpreneurs are essentially professionals who digitize access to their products and services by leveraging information technology, especially the Internet. Digital enterprises are thus able to conduct entire transactions, from delivery of products or services to generation of revenue, everything takes place on the digital domain.
Virtual businesses have several virtues, such as stronger likelihood of more efficient customer engagement and hassle-free service delivery, flexible operations, and so on. Due to this, cyberpreneruship has boomed since the past half decade, the ripples of which are only getting louder as we speak, reaching out to cover virtually every avenue existing on the Internet today. These include infonomics (capitalizing on information dispersal through articles, videos, etc.), e-commerce (selling and buying of products and services online), over-the-top (OTT) entertainment platforms, cybersecurity solutions, and so on.
However, despite these developments (and also because of them), the cyber space, like the offline space, is not perfect. While the rapidly-evolving digital ecosystem has enabled more entrepreneurs and service providers to grow on the Internet, on the flipside, cybercriminals too have leveraged the digital medium to exploit the vulnerabilities in a growing online business ecosystem.
Balancing the Good and the Bad
This comes as no surprise considering that all digital systems are encoded through the binary system. So, for one, while the digital space is full of productive innovations like e-commerce, email, and ebooks, there is also a malicious side to it which cannot be overlooked. This includes a whole range of rising cybercriminal activities, risks of fraud, financial and data theft, and plagiarism, among other issues. This is precisely why the adoption of robust cybersecurity measures is necessary for virtual enterprises to not only survive but also succeed in the digital space.
While corporates and large enterprises can avail advanced digital security measures with the capital at their disposal, most SMEs and individual entrepreneurs are often unable to protect their enterprises from digital threats due to various reasons. A lack of resources and digital literacy are among the most significant reasons behind, especially among new digital enterprises or existing organizations digitizing their businesses. According to a recent report, more than 67 per cent of SMEs surveyed (over 1,000 companies in the UK and the US) reported to have had suffered at least one form of cyberattack.
Small and medium-sized businesses and individual entrepreneurs are especially prone to be targeted by cyber-criminals as they are usually not adequately prepared to protect themselves. Employing poor, or no defensive strategy at all leaves them open in the face of constantly-evolving digital threats like ransomware attacks, intellectual property theft, and cryptojacking. The Cisco 2018 Annual Cybersecurity Report informs that malware is becoming more difficult to combat with each passing day. Gaps in security allow hackers to access and exploit critical enterprise data, resulting in irreparable losses. A 2017 report illuminated that 60 per cent of small businesses shut down within 6 months of an attack.
It is here, like everywhere else on the virtual space, that cyberpreneurship can step into the picture to save the day. Cyberpreneurs, including freelancing and professional cybersecurity experts alike can leverage their skills and experience to supply personalized digital security measures to virtual enterprises. Since these professionals interact directly with the enterprise community, along with the worldwide network of like-minded individuals or groups, they are more attuned to the developments across the evolving digital landscape. They are, therefore, usually the first ones to spot any new or evolved threat that may crop up on the cyberspace. For example, it was Marcus Hutchins, a British computer security researcher, who discovered the kill switch of WannaCry ransomware to put a temporary stop to it.
On account of their proximity to the digital domain, independent cybersecurity experts (professionals or freelancers) have the advantage of focusing on the relevance and accuracy of the solutions while designing them for the threat on hand. This allows them to come up with specific, and more effective, solutions to deal with a problem in very less time. Cyberpreneurs can thus help other enterprises by offering them strategic digital defense at more affordable rates than established IT security solutions providers.
Cybersecurity is one specialized field within the massive IT and digital technology space where criminals and security providers are constantly engaged in a digital warfare, the brunt of which is mostly borne by SMEs and individual entrepreneurs who are generally left undefended. Freelancing and professional IT security experts can thus traverse this avenue of cyberpreneurship by helping small enterprises to emerge unscathed, or at least much better protected, from malicious threats and attacks.