Small Business Cybersecurity. PHOTO: Cybercrime Magazine.

Securing Trust, Trusting Security

Ajay Bhalla, President, Cyber and Intelligence at Mastercard

London, U.K. – Jan. 14, 2021

I often talk about the speed at which the world is changing — but nothing prepared me for 2020. The global pandemic produced a seismic shift in the way that people lived their lives. In many parts of the world work, leisure, shopping and socializing moved almost entirely online. And that’s unlikely to change. The Mastercard Economics Institute recently estimated that 20-30 percent of the shift to digital will be permanent.  

While a year ago cyber-readiness was important for businesses that wanted to thrive, today it’s vital if they want to survive. As the pandemic took hold the number of cybercrimes reported to the FBI tripled, with small businesses disproportionately affected. A recent survey conducted by the Cyber Readiness Institute shows that the smaller a business, the more likely they are to underestimate the risk of online attacks and less likely to take effective countermeasures. Given a choice between an open window and a padlocked door, a burglar will always go for the open window. Fact is, smaller businesses have more open windows and fewer padlocked doors.


Ajay Bhalla, President Cyber and Intelligence at Mastercard

The world around us is changing at a very fast pace


This is serious because a cyberattack can break a small business. In fact, as many as 60 percent of them close within a year of it. The median cost of these incidents in the United States, for example, rose from $10,000 to $50,000 in a year, thanks to increasingly sophisticated attacks. The reputational damage to the brand can be higher. Consumers who experience problems on a merchant’s website will swiftly lose trust and take their business elsewhere. As businesses increasingly rely on technology for transactions, they should understand the importance of giving consumers peace of mind.

Cyber insecurity also undermines trust in the wider digital ecosystem. As this ecosystem expands dramatically to include smart cities, homes, the Internet of Things and 5G hyper-connectivity, cybersecurity is essential to engender confidence in a rapidly emerging infrastructure. It’s not just about building individual fortresses, but also securing the bridges that connect us.

This is why we’re launching the Mastercard Trust Center, to provide small businesses, and the acquirers that serve them, trusted and essential cybersecurity solutions. It will offer easy, centralized access to free and wide-ranging research, education, resources and tools — alongside Mastercard products designed to help secure small businesses.

Security and trust are two sides of the same coin. Security is the basis of trust; and trust is the basis of successful relationships. Every business, regardless of size, depends on security to build and maintain customers’ trust and overall business success.

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Ajay Bhalla is President, Cyber and Intelligence at Mastercard.


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Small businesses are the backbone of economic growth. The needs of small businesses have not changed during the pandemic, but they have grown more acute. With cyberattacks on the rise, small businesses are a huge target. 

Quite often cybersecurity is an afterthought for many small businesses. Many do not have the resources of larger organizations to defend themselves and act once breached. And it’s often difficult to recognize that improving the cybersecurity of one’s business is within one’s control.

Our goal is to change that. This is why we created the Mastercard Trust Center — to help small businesses defend their most important assets — their business and their reputation, through free online access to trusted cybersecurity research, education, resources and tools.

It’s our mission to bring the Mastercard Trust Center to every small business, everywhere, enabling owners to feel more secure and better equipped to thrive against uncertainties.



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