It would be an understatement to say that these past two years have been an interesting time for security. In 2021 alone, numerous high-profile breaches — like those at Colonial Pipeline and Solar Winds — significantly impacted security and the economy. Not only that, but the COVID-19 global crisis caused significant disruption across all industries and sped up the process of business digitalization globally.
Ransomware is on the rise, supply chain flaws are increasing, and the cost of a breach is growing. For small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), this means one thing: a need for robust cybersecurity.
Innovations and cutting-edge technology are indeed reshaping the cybersecurity threat landscape along with this process. However, given the emergence of new work methods and organizational structures for businesses, the cybersecurity threats from 2021 are still present in 2022.
Knowing the different strategies to strengthen cybersecurity is not enough. Understanding this sector’s difficulties is necessary to comprehend why some cybersecurity strategies for small businesses succeed while others fail.
Cybersecurity challenges and how to solve them
The business community as a whole is undoubtedly concerned about cybersecurity, but smaller companies are particularly at risk from it. The explanation is straightforward: SMBs are the main target of cybercrime, not merely one of its secondary targets. In reality, SMBs were the subject of the overwhelming bulk of malicious cyberattacks in past years. According to a Verizon research, nearly half (43 percent) of cyberattacks target small firms. This is because hackers are aware of their vulnerabilities.
However, larger corporations should also be concerned. Cybercriminals know that many SMBs have direct and indirect commercial links with more significant enterprises. Since SMBs’ cyber defenses are often weaker than those of large enterprises, it has been suggested that hackers concentrate on utilizing SMBs as a route into those bigger firms.
SMBs must be aware of the hazards and how to counter them to avoid data theft and prevent revenue loss. Here are the most common and dangerous cybersecurity challenges most SMBs face and what you can do to deal with them.
Although many firms concentrate on external concerns, internal threats can be just as harmful. Employees are now 85 percent more inclined to divulge internal data than they were before to COVID, according to the Ponemon Institute. In fact, there are probably more instances than anticipated due to malicious insiders. 43 percent of security problems recorded between March and July 2020 were brought on by nefarious insiders. Additionally, nearly 98 percent of businesses claim to be somewhat vulnerable to insider threats.
Implementing the principle of least privilege and limiting access to sensitive data will help reduce internal data breaches. The more data an individual has, the less likely they will be to accidentally or purposefully expose it to the outside world.
Additionally, strictly regulating the processes for onboarding and offboarding is also important. Educate new hires on your security rules and practices as quickly as feasible, and revoke system access as soon as an employee leaves the organization. The prevention of this problem should be at the top of every SMB’s priority list since 59 percent of IT security professionals anticipate an increase in insider danger over the next two years.
Phishing attacks are one of the most extensive, dangerous, and pervasive threats to small companies. 90 percent of breaches that affect enterprises are caused by phishing, which has increased 65 percent in the past year and cost companies over $12 billion in revenue. Phishing attacks happen when a perpetrator poses as a reliable source and persuades a victim to open a malicious file, click a malicious link, or provide sensitive data, account information, or login credentials.
Phishing emails may be stopped from getting to your workers’ inboxes by establishing a reliable email security gateway. Your company may also be protected against phishing attempts by cloud-based email security solutions. These tools enable users to report phishing emails, which admins may remove from everyone’s inboxes.
Lack of resources is one of the most significant barriers to SMB cybersecurity. According to a recent survey, 32 percent of SMB respondents said that lack of funds was the biggest obstacle to implementing adequate cybersecurity measures. Without resources, personnel, or knowledge, cybersecurity projects will be derailed, escalating the danger to the industry. According to a study, over half (48 percent) of SMBs with less than ten workers claimed they had no apparent function for cybersecurity and couldn’t justify the spending.
Cybersecurity is a team sport
Many businesses continue to put the majority or all of the responsibility for cybersecurity on their IT personnel. Cyber risk management must be viewed as a company-wide initiative that calls for coordinated action from several business areas. The relevance of individual roles and the necessity of taking proactive measures to improve cybersecurity should clearly be emphasized in 2022.
From everyday users identifying phishing attempts on the front lines to seasoned IT professionals, it’s up to the entire team to create effective firewall rules. Your team may achieve great success by picking reliable software, monitoring implementation, and keeping track of your security measures throughout time.
A company should, ideally, have a comprehensive strategy that directs its actions to avoid and address a breach, including distinct decision-making and communication procedures throughout the organization.
Assess your business’ overall security
It is essential to consider your entire organization’s cyber defense actions and not just the activities of a single department. Each team member should be able to contribute their efforts towards a specific security control. It’s essential to track and measure the effectiveness of your cybersecurity program over time. This will allow you to achieve a higher percentage of the framework.
An internal and external cyber security assessment can help identify vulnerable areas and the necessary remedial actions to be taken. After you have identified the security framework you want to implement, you should check if there are any resources or tools that can help you evaluate its effectiveness.
Reduce the risk of human error
Another primary cause of data breaches is human error, yet many small firms provide little to no employee training on the best practices for protecting data. There are ways for small firms to train their staff on a tight budget, so it is not necessary to spend a fortune on it.
If the company has an internal IT department or employee, they may contribute to developing a policy manual or provide a brief training session for staff on best practices. Several online tools guide staff members on frequent behaviors that might put data in danger if your IT department’s resources are already at capacity. Send this to your workers, stressing its relevance, after running it past your IT department to ensure accuracy.
Executing regular security audits
An extensive evaluation of your organization’s information system is known as a security audit. Typically, this evaluation compares the security of your information system to a checklist of industry best practices, externally defined standards, or governmental legislation. It is one of the best ways to prevent data theft.
However, security audits are often undervalued. To identify security flaws and lessen hazards, SMBs must conduct security audits. Businesses risk deploying an inadequate approach and leaving huge security gaps if they don’t conduct routine audits. However, because they may be time- and resource-intensive, they are frequently disregarded or placed on the back burner in most SMBs.
Cybersecurity is indispensable
The modern, speed-driven digital world is marked by continual change. Although technology is advancing thanks to worldwide connectivity and the use of cloud services quickly, one thing remains the same: cybersecurity is indispensable.
SMBs have and will always experience a variety of risks. The best way for organizations to defend against these risks is by understanding the current challenges, implementing a full suite of security technologies, and using security awareness training to ensure that users are aware of risks and how to avoid them.