How SMBs met the 2020 challenge and predictions for 2021


Throughout these challenging times, our channel partners have kept their finger on the pulse of network security for small and medium businesses (SMBs). In our recent “Voice of the Channel” survey, they gave us some interesting insights on how businesses met the challenges in 2020, and what’s in store for 2021.

It’s safe to say 2020 was the year no one expected. Small and medium businesses (SMBs) started the year with plenty of challenges such as how to engage with customers, stakeholders looking for more reporting and accountability, small IT departments and ongoing cybersecurity threats.

Then, without much warning, companies were forced to quickly pivot and move most, if not all, of their workforce remote. While larger companies, start-ups and digital forward SMBs better prepared for a majority distributed workforce, it was more challenging for SMBs and not all companies were on an equal playing field. Specifically, many SMBs had more technology catching up to do to keep the distributed workforce safe.

IT administrators moved rapidly to enable businesses to adapt to new working environments, often juggling how to ensure optimal employee productivity with ensuring robust security across the whole corporate network. If this wasn’t a big enough challenge, it was compounded by phishing schemes tied to COVID-19 as well as numerous high impact, high profile data breaches such as the Sunburst hack. In fact, in a recent survey, more than half of respondents (53%) said they have seen an increase in phishing activity since the start of the pandemic. Additionally, our channel partners said only 15% of their customers did not experience a cyber attack in 2020.


Even with all the challenges, it’s worth noting that SMBs don’t expect remote work to be temporary; they see it as being beneficial for years. That’s evidenced by the number of businesses that requested VPN connectivity, making it the most requested security feature in 2020.

So, what’s next for SMBs? Now that they have conquered having their employees work remotely, the challenges for 2021 will be transitioning to the hybrid workspace, implementing new technology such as SD-WAN, and keeping up with growing and evolving cybersecurity threats. As these challenges continue and grow, 98% of our channel partners predict that their cybersecurity business will increase or stay the same compared to 2020.

Find out all the results, insights and predictions in our “2020 Voice of the Channel and 2021 Predictions Report.”