The internet allows businesses of all sizes to access new markets and attract new customers. However, the internet also presents cybersecurity risks for small businesses. Whether you’ve decided to store your data on the cloud or even if you’re using just regular email, you need a cybersecurity plan to protect valuable business data.
Data from a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute indicates that 63% of small businesses experienced data breaches in 2019. Small businesses lack the resources that large enterprises do, and as a result, cybersecurity protocols suffer. Here are four steps you can take to secure your small business online.
Define Your Environments and Perimeters
The first step you must take is to conduct an audit of your existing network infrastructure. What are the entry points to your network, and where have you stored sensitive information? Your business has different electronic assets. Rank them by criticality and review the existing security protocols you have in place to protect them.
Assets that are the most critical must be heavily protected. This sounds obvious, but many small businesses apply the same degree of protection to their least and most critical assets. While you can use a single platform or tool to protect your business, you need to devote more resources to protect the assets that mean more to your business.
With an increasing number of small businesses moving to the cloud, defining the extent of your network is crucial. Many third-party cloud providers have robust security protocols, and the average small business is better off leveraging their expertise instead of trying to reinvent the wheel. However, you need to evaluate your network perimeters. Network access points and endpoints are two features of your network perimeter that need to be guarded at all times.
Once you’ve completed an audit of your network, you need to gain visibility on the risks that your business faces. Most small businesses never bother to monitor their networks for risks. They install standard security solutions and leave it at that. Attackers these days are using increasingly sophisticated methods of breaching networks.
Using one-off solutions and not scanning for threats is a huge mistake. Automated penetration testing should be a standard part of your cyber risk assessment process. Continuous monitoring platforms evaluate your risk from different attack vectors and model your organization’s response as well as the potential damage you could suffer.
Cybersecurity should be a recurring process in your business, not something that you should set and forget. Automating these tasks is a great option. There are several third-party tools you can use to conduct automated penetration tests. A penetration test, or pentest, will help you figure out network vulnerabilities in a safe environment. Pair this with a continuous security validation tool, and your business will always be protected.
Rely on Analytics
Every cybersecurity platform provides you with in-depth analytics. At first glance, analytics can seem intimidating due to the wealth of data they provide. However, ignoring them and not using them to the fullest extent can be detrimental to your business’ cybersecurity stance.
The first task you ought to carry out is to prioritize threat alerts. Tie the order of priority back to asset criticality. Remember that some of your assets might depend on one another. A threat to a low criticality asset might affect a more critical one. Therefore, an alert connected to this low criticality asset must be highly prioritized.
Continuous monitoring platforms will give you access to threat analytics that you can use to determine which assets of yours are being regularly targeted. Use this insight to beef up security in the areas that need them. Install the latest updates and patches to make sure your security framework is up to date.
It’s best to always assume a worst-case scenario and create a disaster recovery plan. Implement a business continuity plan for when your business is under attack. Leverage your cloud service provider’s expertise to create reliable backups of your data. As a result of these measures, your organization will be more resilient.
Train Your Workforce
Remote work is increasingly becoming the norm, and studies project that returning to the old ways of working in an office is unlikely. Your cybersecurity training programs need to pivot towards bringing about a change in behavior instead of merely making your employees aware of threats.
In practical terms, this means instead of telling your employees of the threat of phishing or malware, conduct a workshop that simulates such attacks and train your employees to respond effectively. The human element remains one of the weak points in every business’ cybersecurity response. Mitigate this with regular fire drills and emphasize cybersecurity as a point of company culture.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that cybersecurity is an IT issue or that you can rely completely on third-party providers. It’s as much of an issue as sales or marketing is, and every employee is responsible.
New Protocols for Better Cybersecurity
These four steps will help you pivot your cybersecurity plan in a direction that will ensure you’re always protected. It’s safe to assume that your organization will be under attack at some point, so start working right now to secure your assets.