Most of us would not automatically equate small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with stricter security strategies. For starters, they don’t work exactly on big budgets. This means less money for IT staff, and much less highly trained cybersecurity experts. Less money also means fewer security tools and technologies.
Because of these hurdles, most SMEs remain at the forefront of today’s cyber battles. After all, why would cybercriminals waste time trying to infiltrate a heavily fortified company when SMEs are such an easy target?
The fact is that smaller organizations tend to struggle with security from both a holistic and proactive perspective. Instead of having a security boss, they may only have one or two employees covering all aspects of IT along with additional business guidelines, which leads to a mostly reactive security stance.
However, SMEs should not have to settle for less in terms of their safety. And they are not inevitably victims of a cyberattack. If you are part of an SME, here are three smart steps you can take to improve cybersecurity:
- Be proactive
- Focus on threat prevention
- Define a clear strategy for threat detection and response
Step 1: Be proactive and stay active
The ultimate goal of security should be to reduce the chances of a threat affecting your business. This starts by prioritizing security and being realistic about the amount of threat your business may face.
If you’re not proactive, the financial impact can be amazing. It is increasingly common for SMEs to be affected by ransomware attacks. And these victims usually pay up to $ 10,000 per device just to get their business up and running. Unfortunately, the ransom payment itself can only be a drop compared to all the costs associated with fully recovering from an attack.
Step 2: Prioritize prevention
While the right goal is to be proactive, you can still wonder how to get started. The first step in protecting your business is to avoid exposure and risk. If you’re like most SMEs, you’ll probably consider the standard antivirus and antimalware tools that come with your computer as your main line of defense.
However, there is a reason why you get these rudimentary tools for free. They will stop affecting some known threats to your systems, but they were never designed to stop advanced threats, which now occur at the rate of one every 39 seconds. To elevate your security stance, you need prevention methodologies and technologies that can block a wide range of system applications and exploits.
This step usually requires advanced experience and a significant investment if you want to achieve it internally. However, prevention alone does not provide you with deep visibility into your IT environment that can reveal persistent problems and potential threats. This is especially true in the age of IoT and BYOD, which significantly complicate the security of networked devices.
Step 3: Search deeper with detection and response
It is useful to remember that no one has ever built a 100% impenetrable system. You just can’t prevent all threats, but you can take steps to minimize their impact on your business. To get started, make sure you have the right technologies and processes in place to detect a potential threat. But you also need to be able to respond to a threat and take the necessary remedial action.
For example, it is good practice to act as if you have less than two hours from the time of infection until a cybercriminal can exfiltrate or encrypt your data to get you a ransom. This is precisely why you need ongoing monitoring of your systems, ideally with automated tools and human analysts.
Familiarize yourself with MDR and XDR services
Unfortunately, dedicated security experts and full-time staff for a complete solution are not usually within the reach of SME budgets. That is why more and more SMEs have been gravitating towards 24/7/365 and managed response and response (XDR) services.
MDR services offer advanced endpoint protection and a wide variety of antivirus tools, along with log event collection / correlation and proactive threat detection. In a typical scenario, an SME would partner with an MDR vendor deploying a team of highly trained security analysts to the vendor’s security operations center (SOC).
From there, analysts monitor the IT and OT (operational technology) resources of SMEs, looking for anomalies to investigate and remedy, if necessary. Think of MDR as a way to complement your own security measures, you will only get 24/7/365 coverage from a team of experts who use the latest cybersecurity tools for much less than the cost of hiring a computer security expert.
A relatively new version of MDR is XDR, which adds expanded visibility to your networks, systems, cloud log files, activities, and metadata. The actual scope of capabilities may vary from provider to provider, so you just need to make sure that they are aligned with your unique business goals.
When you don’t want to dedicate all your time and resources to becoming a cybersecurity expert, MDR and XDR services can help you protect your business without budgeting. This way, they are a great option to keep your business safe while you focus on your core business.