Cybersecurity Advice for Small and Medium Businesses
Small & medium-sized businesses (SMB) today are under attack from malware, ransomware, external threats and data breaches. The problem is that SMBs have a lack of sophistication around their security strategy and IT security is viewed as an onerous requirement.
Because of this lack of involvement from most SMBs regarding their security stance, they have become a lucrative and easy target. More than 61% of SMBs (2017 Ponemon Institute Study) have been breached in the last 12 months. That’s no surprise when we know they don’t have sufficient defenses in place to protect, detect or react to cyberattacks.
Moving from a reactive to a proactive approach
SMB security today is focused on just protect, pray and then react. Think about it, for any kind of cyberattack, most SMBs have a reactive approach. They detect the attack/infection and then react with an incident response plan.
The problem with this methodology is that the damage has already been done at this point.
It’s simply not effective to just put the barriers up and pray.
SMBs need a far more proactive approach. They need to use a layered security strategy that’s able to detect suspicious activity at each step of the breach “process”. The objective of such a strategy is to put a stop to a potential breach as early in that process as is possible and thus before any damage is done.
You need to protect your most valuable data at a few levels if you want your proactive approach to be successful:
• Vulnerability Protection – The bad guys need to get in somehow, and known vulnerabilities are a prime target. Ensuring operating systems and applications are patched is critical. Sure, this may seem rudimentary, but the reality is even in environments where it’s believed to be completely patched, vulnerabilities still exist, giving attackers entry to your network.
• Threat Protection – Should an attacker get in, you need to have a way to stop them before they can do anything truly malicious. Antivirus, endpoint protection, and application whitelisting are just a few types of security solutions that can neutralize a threat the moment it rears its ugly head.
• Environment Protection – Attacks can’t succeed without first logging onto the system containing the data of value. Having some kind of logon monitoring in
place will provide you leading indicators that misuse of credentials is in play – well before an actual breach occurs.
• Data Protection – You need to assume the bad guys can get past the first three layers. If they do, you need a way to keep tabs on the data you deem worthy of stealing (and keep in mind, it may not just be your customer or credit card data; even your upcoming press releases can be used for insider trading if you work at a publicly traded company). This means using file-level or application-based auditing of access to identify and notify IT of improper access the moment it starts.
Some SMB-friendly criteria to ensure effective security
All SMB businesses battle against lack of time and resources. But the data they are protecting is no less sensitive, the potential disruption caused is no less serious than for large enterprises. This is why they need to choose solutions that offer enterprise caliber defense in terms of focus and effectiveness, but with SMB sensibilities in terms of implementation and use.
To help achieve this, we’ve worked with our SMB clients and put together some SMB-friendly criteria to remember when choosing cybersecurity solutions:
1. Automated controls that take action before damage is done
Should something fall outside a set of established restrictions, your solution should automatically take action before the damage is done – not only when IT intervenes.
2. Easy adoption
If security overwhelms and stifles productivity, users can’t do their job and the solution is already dead on arrival. Security should be behind the scenes, protecting the users and the environment until the moment the user is truly conflicting with security protocol.
3. Limited administration
Most small and medium sized businesses do not have a sizeable IT team. Security solutions with ‘stickiness’ tend to be simple to implement and intuitive to manage.
To learn more, check out our infographic on all 8 SMB-friendly criteria to help achieve maximum impact with minimum effort.