Three smart ways SMBs can improve cybersecurity

Most of us wouldn’t automatically equate small to medium-size businesses (SMBs) with having the most stringent security strategies. For starters, they don’t exactly operate with large budgets. That means less money for IT staff, let alone highly trained cybersecurity experts. Less money also means fewer security tools and technologies.

SMBs cybersecurity

Because of these obstacles, most SMBs remain squarely on the frontlines of today’s cyberbattles. After all, why would cybercriminals waste their time trying to infiltrate a heavily fortified enterprise when SMBs are such an easy target?

The fact is, smaller organizations tend to struggle with security from both a holistic and proactive perspective. Instead of having a chief security officer, they might have only one or two employees who cover all aspects of IT along with additional business directives—leading to a mostly reactive security posture.

However, SMBs shouldn’t have to settle for less when it comes to their security. And it’s not inevitable that they’ll become a victim of a cyberattack. If you’re part of an SMB, here are three smart steps you should take to enhance cybersecurity:

  • Be proactive
  • Focus on preventing threats
  • Define a clear strategy for threat detection and response

Step 1: Get proactive and stay proactive

Your ultimate security goal should be reducing the chances of a threat impacting your business. That starts with prioritizing security and being realistic about how much of a threat your business might be facing.

If you’re not proactive, the financial impact can be staggering. It’s increasingly common for SMBs to get hit by ransomware attacks. And those victims often pay up to $10,000 per device just to get their business up and running again. Unfortunately, the ransom payment itself might be just a drop in the bucket compared to all the related costs of fully recovering from an attack.

Step 2: Prioritize prevention

Even if being proactive is the right goal, you still might be wondering how to start. The first step in protecting your business is to prevent exposure and risk. If you’re like most SMBs, you probably consider the standard anti-virus and anti-malware tools that came with your computer as your primary line of defense.

However, there’s a reason you get those rudimentary tools for free. They’ll stop some known threats from impacting your systems, but they were never designed to stop advanced threats, which are now occurring at the rate of one every 39 seconds. To elevate your security posture, you need prevention methodologies and technologies that can block a wide range of application and system exploits.

This step usually requires advanced expertise and significant investment if you want to achieve this in-house. Even then, prevention alone doesn’t give you the deep visibility into your IT environment that can reveal lingering issues and potential threats. This is especially true in the era of IoT and BYOD, which significantly complicate security for networked devices.

Step 3: Dive deeper with detection and response

It’s helpful to remember that no one has ever built a 100% impenetrable system. You simply can’t prevent every threat, but you can take steps to minimize their impact on your business. To start, make sure you have the right technologies and processes to detect a potential threat. But you also must be able to respond to a threat—and take any necessary remediation steps.

For example, it’s a good practice to act as though you have less than two hours from the time of infection to the time when a cybercriminal can exfiltrate or encrypt your data to hold you ransom. This is precisely why you need round-the-clock monitoring for your systems—ideally with both automated tools and human analysts.

Get familiar with MDR and XDR services

Unfortunately, dedicated security experts and full-time staffing for an end-to-end solution aren’t typically within the scope of SMB budgets. That’s why more and more SMBs have been gravitating toward 24/7/365 Managed Detection and Response (MDR) and Extended Detection and Response (XDR) services.

MDR services feature advanced endpoint protection and a variety of anti-virus tools along with log event collection/correlation and proactive threat hunting. In a typical scenario, an SMB would partner with an MDR vendor that deploys a team of highly trained security analysts at the vendor’s security operations center (SOC).

From there, the analysts monitor the SMB’s IT and OT (operational technology) resources, looking for anomalies to investigate and remediate, if necessary. Think of MDR as a way to supplement your own security measures—only you’re getting 24/7/365 coverage from a team of experts utilizing the latest cybersecurity tools for much less than the cost of hiring a single IT security expert.

A relatively new offshoot of MDR is XDR, which adds extended visibility across your networks, systems, cloud logfiles, activities, and metadata. The actual scope of capabilities can vary from vendor to vendor, so you just need to make sure they’re aligned with your unique business goals.

When you don’t want to spend all your time and resources to become a cybersecurity expert, MDR and XDR services can help you secure your business without tying up your budget. In this way, they’re a great option for keeping your business protected while you focus on your core business.

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