In most cases, an SMB does not have a large, dedicated security team available to implement effective cybersecurity defenses. This lack of resources can make it difficult for an SMB to secure its computing environment from the very real risks posed by cybercriminals and threat actors.
We are going to offer a checklist that SMBs can use to strengthen their cyber defenses. We’ll also take a look at why cybersecurity has become increasingly important for SMBs.
Why Cybersecurity is Important for SMBs
SMBs have traditionally not had extensive digital assets that require protection. This has changed due to the digital transformation adopted by many organizations as they implement technological solutions in an attempt to remain competitive. The digital landscape has changed for the vast majority of businesses of all sizes.
Many SMBs now have a substantial volume of valuable data stored digitally either on-premises or in the cloud. They may have difficulty effectively defending these resources from threat actors due to a lack of cybersecurity skills. In many cases, security in an SMB is handled by individuals who have to balance other responsibilities. The combination of valuable data assets and the potential inadequacies of their cyber defenses makes SMBs an attractive target for threat actors.
SMBs need to be aware of the risks to their IT environment. Following are some of the most common security risks faced by SMBs.
- Social engineering attacks - Threat actors employ a variety of social engineering techniques as they try to gain access to or information about an IT environment. Phishing or whaling emails that are designed to deceive the recipient into divulging sensitive information or clicking on a malicious link pose a serious risk to SMBs. Business email compromise (BEC) is a widely used tactic that takes advantage of the reliance businesses put on email communication.
- Ransomware - The result of a successful social engineering attack can lead to the planting of malware in an SMB’s IT environment. Ransomware is a particularly virulent form of malware that encrypts data resources and holds them for ransom. Newer ransomware variants also exfiltrate data and threaten to disclose it as an added incentive to convince victims to pay the ransom.
- Credential theft - Social engineering attacks can also result in a victim inadvertently providing the cybercriminal with credentials that can be used to access sensitive data resources. The data can then be stolen or corrupted by the threat actors.
- System misconfiguration - Misconfigured systems present vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cybercriminals. SMBs may not have the technical resources in-house to effectively configure business-critical systems.
- Ineffective security patch installation - Vendor-supplied security patches should be installed promptly to address identified device, system, and application vulnerabilities. SMBs may not have the available manpower to efficiently address this task.
- Wordpress and other web platforms - Without hardening, Wordpress is a vulnerable platform. In combination with the many plugins typically used with Wordpress, it can be very difficult to adequately protect an SMBs web presence if they use the platform.
- Exposure through unused functionality - Good practices should include disabling platform functionality when it is not needed to reduce potential vulnerabilities. The previously mentioned Wordpress plugins are a good example. If they are not being used for business purposes, they should be disabled as to improve the platform’s security.
Essential Components of an SMB Cybersecurity Checklist
SMBs should create a cybersecurity checklist to methodically address IT security and protect themselves from threat actors. Addressing the items on the checklist will strengthen security and better protect their valuable data. The following components are essential when developing a cybersecurity checklist for an SMB.
- Perform an assessment of the existing environment that includes a review of the cybersecurity knowledge and experience available in the organization. This needs to be an objective evaluation that identifies areas that need to be addressed. Vulnerabilities can be corrected with targeted education and training or with the addition of complementary security personnel from a third-party such as a manned service provider (MSP).
- Provide security awareness training to all personnel to help identify and avoid social engineering attacks. The creation of a personal security policy is strongly recommended so everyone in the organization understands their role in maintaining a secure IT environment.
- Implement standard traditional security measures to address identified and potential vulnerabilities. The following measures should be included:
- Firewalls to keep threat actors out of the network.
- Antivirus or more modern endpoint detection and response (EDR) software to find and remove known malicious software. In cases where resources are limited, it’s better to implement an antivirus tool than to go with no protection at all.
- Multi-factor authentication to limit the risk of credential theft.
- Practice effective IT security hygiene by implementing best practices such as enforcing the use of complex passwords and changing them regularly. These procedures help protect the environment from credential theft.
- Security patching needs to be prioritized for all components of the IT environment. Procedures should be put in place to install security patches as soon as they become available. Threat actors often target well-known vulnerabilities that have not been effectively addressed. Patching also needs to include routers and firewalls which can be the entrypoint of a cyberattack.
- Backups are an essential form of protection against data loss, corruption, and ransomware. SMBs should institute comprehensive backup policies using either on-premises or cloud resources.
- Assume a data breach could occur and prepare a response plan. Despite an organization’s best efforts, there is always the possibility of a data breach. With proper planning, a company can mitigate the effects of a breach. The plan should include quickly identifying the exploited vulnerability and addressing it to limit the damage to the business.
How XDR Improves SMB Cybersecurity
Threat actors are constantly developing new and sophisticated techniques to compromise an IT environment. In some cases, they strive to avoid detection and may present advanced persistent threats (APTs) designed to steal or corrupt data resources. The traditional security measures discussed above, while critically important to protect an SMB’s assets, are not enough to fully defend against emerging cyberattack techniques.
Extended detection and response (XDR) is an approach to cybersecurity that complements and strengthens an organization’s existing security posture in multiple ways.
- XDR takes a holistic view of the IT environment to simplify, centralize, and prioritize threat monitoring in a single pane of glass.
- The platform identifies subtle and weak signals from malware that have escaped detection from traditional methods.
- XDR detects lateral movements through the environment that may indicate the presence of sophisticated threat actors.
- The solution generates alerts when anomalies are detected so they can be addressed by the individuals within the SMB responsible for security.
Samurai XDR is a cloud-based SaaS solution that provides SMBs with the additional protection they need against sophisticated cyber risks. The platform leverages Samurai’s Global Threat Intelligence Platform to continuously analyze current and emerging threats. Samurai XDR offers a consolidated view of cyber threats that addresses the needs of the small security teams of many SMBs.
To assess your business's cybersecurity posture, and to identify and manage potential vulnerabilities and threats to your information technology systems, take our free Cyber Threat Risk Assessment.
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