We all know that Cyber Security is a growing concern for all sizes of business – particularly during the increased shift to hybrid and remote working during COVID – and SMEs are no exception to this rule.
It’s estimated that Cyber Crime will cost the world $10.5 Trillion Annually By 2025. At that scale, no one is safe and the uncomfortable reality is that serious Cyber Crime is no longer just a primary concern for big corporations or non-tech-savvy individuals. In fact, over half (51%) of SME businesses and self-employed workers in the UK have experienced a Cyber Security breach. So, in truth, a single successful Cyber Attack could have fatal consequences for your business.
Unfortunately, SMEs do not seem adequately prepared to meet this threat. With as many as 43% of SMEs in the UK not having a Cyber Security plan in place. One of the main reasons for this is simply a lack of direction and knowing how to get started. In fact, 47% of SMEs have stated that they have “no understanding” of protecting themselves against cyber attacks.
If that is a familiar feeling for you, then read on. Below, we’ll reveal some of the essential Cyber Security solutions you need to implement to quickly improve the security of your small or medium-sized business.
Conduct a Cyber Security assessment
This one is foundational.
Each business faces a unique set of challenges in preparing its security against Cyber Threats. That’s why it’s always recommended to take a risk-based approach to Cyber Security.
A Cyber Security risk assessment, like Cyber Essentials for example which includes Cyber Security audit tools can help you:
- Identify potential threats
- Identify vulnerabilities
- Predict the impact of threats
- Provide threat recovery options
- Identify Cyber Security compliance requirements
Depending on which model you use, it will also help you establish your current level of Cyber Security maturity vs the level you need to be at. A risk-based approach helps ensure that you prioritize protecting your most valuable assets from the most dangerous threats.
Depending on your current Cyber Security maturity, it may be best to have a third-party small business cyber security provider conduct this assessment. This is because it requires a high level of knowledge regarding the Cyber Security and regulatory landscape. Not to mention drawing up a roadmap to help get your SME from point A to point B. With point B being full Cyber Security maturity.
It may also be easier for an unbiased party looking from the outside to conduct a brutally honest assessment that’s needed. With a completely fresh pair of eyes that can potentially save your business thousands and thousands of pounds.
Carry out employee training, education, and awareness
According to Verizon’s 2021 DBIR report, up to 85% of breaches involved a human element. And, it’s generally accepted that the people factor is involved in the majority of security incidents.
There are several ways in which your employees can be exploited to target your business:
- Through social engineering attempts, such as domain spoofing, phishing, spearphishing, etc.
- Credential theft due to weak password practices or poor personal security hygiene
- Carelessness that leads to leaking protected information or losing physical security items. For example, security passes, USBs containing work files, etc.
- Not knowing the correct steps or procedures to take should a cyber incident occur
In fact, often Cyber Criminals start by compromising low-level employees to get a foothold in your IT systems and escalate their privileges from there. Which means that employees can play a pivotal role in protecting your small business against Cyber Attack. But, to be effective, employees need to be aware of the importance of taking individual responsibility for protecting themselves and the company.
This is especially true in a remote working environment, where employees may not have the same level of protections in place. As they would for example, inside your office locations.
To guard against this, you need to ensure that your teams get specialist IT security training – either internally or from an external security services provider – on how to spot and stop any security issues in their track. And this training should be continually updated as Cyber Attacks evolve and become more sophisticated.
Implement Identity Management and account security
Yes, ensuring that your employees have the awareness and knowledge to practice good account security is paramount. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be using technology to do everything you can to make it even more secure.
One of the simplest and most effective ways to help secure employee accounts is through MFA (multi-factor authentication) where users must provide 2 or more pieces of evidence to verify their identity to gain access to a digital resource. Which improves protection against hacking by requiring users to go through a process of proving who they are before allowing access to important company IT systems.
And contrary to popular belief, SSO (single sign-on) is a more secure approach than many different individual logins:
- More logins mean more credentials that invite bad practices (using the same credentials for more than one account, using weak passwords, insecurely saving passwords, etc.)
- An employee only has to enter their credentials once, which is one of the most dangerous moments for account security
- Implementing a single, all-encompassing security blanket with no overlap or intermediary blind spots makes it more accessible
A proper Identity Access Management (IAM) solution can help you implement measures like these and many more. However, it can be challenging to find and correctly configure the right IAM solution for your business, so you should consult a professional to get the best out of these tools and ensure that your business is properly protected.
Install (and update) effective endpoint security
For many businesses, endpoint security software is the first line of defence. And tried and trusted anti-virus software is still one of the most effective ways to offer continuous protection against a wide variety of Cyber Threats.
However, nowadays, top endpoint security software is about more than just implementing simple anti-virus functionality and you should be on the lookout for a Cyber Security solution that includes:
- Online threat protection and safe browsing hints
- Email filtering/anti-spam
- Firewall services
- Scanning your devices for vulnerabilities
- Ransomware remediation
Today’s best-in-class endpoint security for small businesses also utilizes AI and machine learning to continually adapt and improve the level of protection it provides you with. And automation can also help alert your staff, trigger company-wide cyber incident responses and bring down remediation times.
However, with the blazingly fast evolution of Cyber Threats, even the best small business computer security software needs to be continually monitored, updated and maintained to ensure effectiveness. So make sure you have an IT expert, either internally or externally, who is responsible for managing this on an ongoing basis.
Leverage the Cloud
For SMEs, in particular, we understand full that your budget is usually tight. With little room to spare for concerns like Cyber Security services. And that is where you can really leverage the Cloud as a cost-effective and surprisingly secure solution.
That is because Cloud providers have a vested interest in providing secure Cloud environments. If you opt for reputable and top-class cloud services, you’ll usually enjoy features like SSO, MFA, and even IAM capabilities. Not to mention high-grade firewalls, 24/7 monitoring, strong encryption and other central hallmarks of a highly secure ecosystem.
In most cases, getting this level of security included in your package is cheaper than implementing it in-house from scratch. And by engaging the help of an external partner who has specific experience of implementing Cloud products and solutions for small businesses you can guarantee the peace of mind that your Cloud infrastructure is securely and adequately configured. And that your business is adequately protected against Cyber Security threats.
Yes, taking the leap of faith and formulating a strategy to secure your IT infrastructure against Cyber Crime can be a daunting prospect.
The best IT security approach for a small business is not the one that costs the most or makes the fanciest promises. It’s the one that is tailored according to your organisation’s risk profile, budget and current Cyber Security maturity.
Engaging with a reputable, local IT support business that is able to provide expert advice can help you ensure the best outcome. It can prove to be an invaluable partnership. From assessing your Cyber Security readiness to formulating a strategy to implementing best-fit measures.
Plus it can save your business from the costly and damaging issues that Cyber Crime can cause.
If you would like us to provide an honest, independent assessment of the state of your IT security then why not contact us. And one of our experts will be pleased to help.