Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are under attack by a variety of cyber threats. Most businesses either do not realize how vulnerable they are or do not have the necessary time, resources, or skills to address the issues. By adding managed security services to their business, SMBs can improve their security posture while saving valuable time and resources. SMBs that face security compliance and regulations should certainly consider managed security services as a viable option.

Leveraging managed security services holds many benefits, but most SMBs have concerns and seek clarity on the benefits and what specifically managed security is.

The new SMB downtime – cyber threats

A common misunderstanding among SMBs is that they are too small to be a target for malicious malware attacks and other cyber crime. While they understand that security is important, many business owners believe these attacks are merely focused on larger enterprises. Unfortunately, they are wrong.

According to the State of SMB Cyber Security Report 1, published by Ponemon Institute, an independent research and education organization:

  • Hackers breached 50% of SMBs over a 12-month period in the United States, derailing an SMB’s “money making activities for up to a week”
  • The most prevalent attacks against SMBs are web-based, phishing, and social engineering
  • 59% of SMBs have no visibility into employee password practices and hygiene
  • 65% of SMBs that have a password policy do not strictly enforce it

The report called these and other statistics a national crisis while noting that, despite this known vulnerability, “many of America’s 28 million small businesses are not thinking about cyber security.”

The reality is that SMBs are often more vulnerable than their enterprise counterparts. Opportunistic hackers realize that many SMBs have weak cyber security protocols, a large attack surface, and lack specialized in-house IT professionals with security expertise. This creates an appealing and easy target. As a result, cyber attacks now represent the most serious downtime threat to SMBs.

In addition, SMBs are increasingly dependent on interconnected systems, such as Cloud, SaaS, BYOD, and IoT. These technologies create opportunities for skilled hackers to unleash malware. Whether it is a virus, trojan, worm, bot, or other permutation, malware can inflict various degrees of damage, from simply being a minor annoyance to disabling entire businesses.

A ransomware scenario

Imagine that an employee accidentally let loose a virulent strain of ransomware. The infection exploited a vulnerability in the clients’ system and spread rapidly across the network. As a result, critical files have been encrypted, paralyzing the entire business. The files remain inaccessible until the ransom is paid, typically in bitcoin or other cryptocurrency that is difficult to trace.

What most often occurs in these situations is that although the ransom has been paid, the attacker does not unlock the files or even destroys them, leaving the client with irreparable damage. While this is a hypothetical scenario, the threat to SMBs is real. Threats are not only more prevalent, they are also increasingly complex. By the time a cyber attack has penetrated the network, it is almost impossible to repair the infected systems. As an SMB, you do not want to be in the situation where you are reacting to a successfully executed cyber attack, as the damage has already been done by that time. It is therefore better to prevent than to repair.

Key Components of a Managed Security Service

Effective cybersecurity rests on three pillars: products, processes, and people. However, most SMBs do not need the cumbersome, expensive protection that enterprises or businesses in highly regulated industries require. In fact, SMBs require the opposite: a flexible and dynamic approach that changes and adapts as the threatscape, tools, and techniques change.

For SMBs, a robust managed security service typically includes the following elements, along with an RMM solution to deliver these services, enforce security settings, and continually monitor system performance.

• Managed antivirus • User access controls
• Web hardening • Simple vulnerability scans
• Patch management • Managed backup and disaster recovery
• Managed firewalls • Secure remote working (VPN)
 Content filtering • Data loss prevention
• Password management • Enforceable processes and policies
• Multi-factor authentication • Employee security awareness training

This last point is especially critical. Training employees and creating awareness play key roles in securing the network, as people are generally perceived as the weakest links in the digital security chain. A staggering 95 percent of all security breaches were caused by human error. Creating a cybersecurity culture for your employees should include:

  • Comprehensive cybersecurity policies that are part of business processes
  • Ongoing education, training, and security reviews that involve everybody
  • A focus on individual responsibility and awareness that everyone has a vital, ongoing role

In Conclusion

Managed security services are an important consideration for any small and medium sized business. SMBs are under attack from increasingly complex threats, attacks and malware that include spyware, viruses, worms, trojans, and ransomware (to name a few). A proactive approach to security using managed security could be a perfect solution for all businesses especially SMBs.

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