How would you rate your cybersecurity strategy? Security experts that are qualified for a CISO position are perhaps the most sought-after talent in the IT space today. With not enough qualified CISOs in the talent pool and too many enterprises willing to pay a premium, SMBs are having a tough time recruiting and securing an in-house hire.
An SMB has the same need as any business—to protect their network and remain compliant—yet many are at a serious disadvantage in the talent market, and by proxy, a disadvantage in the war against cybercriminals.
There are many resources you can utilize to improve your cybersecurity posture, but not many to help you prioritize which measures are most important when you can’t afford to roll out a full-coverage, top-of-the-line suite of cybersecurity solutions or an expert in-house team.
In this blog, we will help shape the philosophy and offer guidance to SMBs that are finding it difficult to afford a security expert, and help navigate the priorities of how to approach protecting your business with limited resources.
Good Practices for SMB Cybersecurity: Strong Locks In Key Places
It’s better to have a few good locks in key places than no locks at all. What we mean by this is that, if you’re limited in your ability to focus on cybersecurity, it’s better to allocate what resources you have toward a handful of strong measures in key areas than to write off cybersecurity as unattainable.
If your IT team is spread thin in terms of workload, budget, or skill set, it may make sense to identify the greatest risks or priorities imposed by regulatory compliance requirements first. By identifying these areas, your team can prioritize cybersecurity service procurement projects to help stop the biggest vulnerabilities.
Some cybersecurity measures often taken by SMBs rely on elusion rather than true protection. Rather than investing in a lock box, many people will hide their keys under a fake rock, a tactic criminals are familiar with. If someone targets your home for a break-in, they’ll almost certainly locate the key under a suspiciously plastic-looking rock in your garden. The bottom line is that hoping for the best while you have no cybersecurity defenses is not a plan.
Instead of opting for “security by obscurity,” a term used by cybersecurity expert and recent UPSTACK podcast guest Ariel Pisetzky, be sure to lock down your valuable data. It’s not about hiding gaps in your posture or trying to elude hackers with limited visibility, but rather locking down the keys (passwords, human vulnerabilities, etc.) with impenetrable solutions. Locate the most vulnerable areas of your organization and select solutions that specifically address concerns related to those areas.
Better Practices for SMB Cybersecurity: Weak Locks Everywhere
Speaking of home invasions, here’s another analogy: experts say padlocks and bike locks, and even deadbolts in your home, are meant to stave off the casual criminal that’s looking for the easiest opportunity. They are looking for unlocked doors, not trying to pick locks. The same goes for the cybercrime world. Though it may sound counterintuitive, what’s better than a handful of good locks in a few areas? The answer is: weak locks everywhere. Making a best-effort in more areas is a step up from diving deep into protecting any singular (or few) area of your network. That’s because the sheer surface area of the threat vectors is your greatest risk, and most attacks that SMBs will face are focused on simple, low-hanging, unsecured vulnerabilities.
One of your best defenses against cybercriminals is to make it harder–or at least, more frustrating–for bad actors to infiltrate your system. Just a little friction could be enough. A hacker would rather slip in through an unprotected gap in another business’s security posture than to chip away at your protective measures, which is an advantage SMBs have over a hacker’s more desirable enterprise candidates. Of course we’re speaking in generalities, but playing the odds may be the best you can do.
This can mean taking regular measures in cyber-hygiene, like regular password changes, phishing education, immutable backups (wherein your backup is incorruptible–plenty of providers offer this service) and regular software and device updates. It can also mean investing in a blanket, baseline solution like firewalls and antivirus software that covers your full network, as well as incident detection.
Incident detection is especially valuable. The longer it takes for you to become aware of a breach, the longer a hacker has to move around in your network and achieve their goals. The sooner you detect an intrusion, the better.
Best Practices for SMB Cybersecurity: A Virtual CISO
The previous two approaches covered in this article are tactical. Patching together solutions is less than ideal, especially when you don’t have access to a security expert with a 30,000 ft view of your network. It’s strategy that makes a cybersecurity architecture cohesive–not throwing solutions at the wall and hoping they stick. Without an expert helping guide decisions and providing a roadmap for cohesive, layered protection, you may be investing in a set of solutions that won’t work–and you’ll likely pay more over time to make changes or reroute your efforts.
The investment you should make in lieu of solutions is in the expert who can put them all together seamlessly: a virtual CISO, or vCISO.
A vCISO works on a contract or subscription basis, lending you their time, talent, and expertise at a rate you can afford. vCISOs offer services from monitoring and incident response to proactive planning and strategy. You may even find a vCISO willing to provide mentorship and training to your employees, helping impart knowledge with long-term value and keep your players up to speed on the team strategy.
What you invest in a virtual CISO to lead your company’s cybersecurity strategy and help guide decisions, you’ll gain an improved security posture and increase risk mitigation.
A Bonus Tip: No Matter Your Strategy, A Trusted Advisory Partner Can Help
Whether you’re looking at good, better, or best cybersecurity practices within your SMB, turning to an expert, vendor-neutral advisory partner like UPSTACK helps you quickly narrow the field of cybersecurity solutions to find the right fit for your business, ensuring you get the best possible ROI on your choices.
While an advisory partner isn’t meant to replace a virtual CISO, they can play a similar function in that they sit atop the process of security planning and help with identifying risks, prioritizing initiatives, aligning you with service providers that can bring their expertise to you, and managing the process for you. This can even include helping find a resource for a virtual CISO.
At UPSTACK, we specialize in sourcing cybersecurity solutions for SMBs from leading service providers. Our team helps customers evaluate and design both on-premises and cloud-based solutions for end-to-end prevention and detection, so you know you’re getting the most cost-effective and quality protection for your organization. We are especially attuned to the needs of small and medium-sized businesses, and we take pride in architecting cost-effective solutions for every budget and set of needs.
No matter your size, you need and deserve to be protected from cybersecurity threats. Learn more about UPSTACK’s cybersecurity services.