Small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) face unique challenges when choosing a security solution. While large businesses enjoy entire departments devoted to addressing the many facets of security – video surveillance cameras, video management, access control, network infrastructure – SMBs have limited resources to help them select and maintain a security solution. Cybersecurity threats that can damage or permanently ruin a business are also becoming big risks to SMBs via the very same security systems they choose to protect them. When evaluating security providers, it’s essential for SMBs to conduct research and carefully consider the numerous options available.

Here are some important questions SMBs should ask when navigating the security landscape.


What is the right solution? One size does not fit all.

Beware of security vendors that offer a “one size fits all” solution. SMBs come in many shapes and sizes, and their needs vary, as well. A security vendor should have enough depth and breadth to their project lineup to be able to offer multiple solutions. Some SMBs might want to focus on access control while others might be interested in video surveillance. Some want a small camera installation now, but in the future want to scale to hundreds of cameras. This is where choosing a provider that manufacturers its own products is very important: they will have more differentiation in their lineup. Choosing a manufacturer that OEMs someone else’s products will have fewer options and will be more likely to push a one size fits all option.


Does the vendor manufacture its own products?

There are a great number of security manufacturers – both known and unknown. When choosing a vendor, ask the representative if the company manufactures its own products. Oftentimes, a company OEMs the product – placing its logo on a product made by another company. This can lead to many problems: uncertainty about the quality of the product’s components, inability to find replacement parts, the amount of time to fix or replace the product, poor software support and cyber threats. When a vendor manufactures its own products, they know where the product was assembled, with what parts, how it works with other systems, how to fix it and how long it will take. They also have engineers on staff to address those issues that might escalate beyond a known problem.


Is the security solution easy to use?

When SMB owners invest in a security solution, they are going to be more interested in using the product and not learning it. When evaluating security products, it’s essential to evaluate the product’s ease of use. The best technology won’t make a difference if users can’t quickly and easily learn the product. Video Management Software (VMS), for example, can be sophisticated, but it can also be functional. SMBs often use a handful of tasks – viewing live video, using a mobile app, taking a snapshot to send to management or law enforcement – and these tasks should be easy to learn. SMBs cannot afford to send employees to time-consuming training. The vendor should provide efficient yet thorough training as well as webinars, online training modules and educational collateral for continued education. They should also have a reliable technical support department that’s responsive and works with customers to answer inquiries and quickly resolve issues.


How does the vendor approach cybersecurity, cyber threats and vulnerabilities?

Most associate physical security with video surveillance cameras or access control credentials and for good reason: these tools help protect property and employees from physical threats and help resolve issues once they occur. But advances in technology and the reliance of security products on IT networks and the internet have given cybercriminals an opportunity to invade security components, making companies vulnerable to costly data breaches and malware. Large businesses are often the target of cybercrime, but they are better prepared to protect themselves because they have more resources.

Just because an SMB is smaller, however, an owner can’t have the attitude that they won’t be a target. Cybercriminals seek out the easiest targets and they might assume that a video surveillance camera is an easy way to hack into a connected network. It’s absolutely essential to choose a trusted security provider that treats cybersecurity as a priority. One way to evaluate this is to ask the potential vendor about their commitment to Research and Development (R&D) and any routine testing they conduct to ensure their products are secure and exceed the highest of standards.


What does the vendor do when a breach happens?

Ask the potential security vendor how they treat cyber threats. They should have a team dedicated to addressing security vulnerabilities that responds promptly any time an issue is reported. If it’s a software issue, they should make a patch available as soon as possible and communicate the resolution in an efficient manner. A company that is decisive and transparent about cyber breaches is one that can be trusted.