Why Small and Midsize Businesses Need to Adopt Cybersecurity Strategies Before It’s Too Late
A week ago, the Internet was shaken with the Log4j vulnerability and companies started reconsidering their cybersecurity strategies. The issue became especially acute for small and middle-sized businesses since they often overlook the need to invest in the security strategy. But in modern reality, when the pandemic has opened new opportunities for hackers, it is a must to embrace cybersecurity. Without further ado, let’s get started.
The disaster behind the Log4j vulnerability
On December 9, it was announced that a critical vulnerability was found in Log4j - a widely used open-source logging framework by Apache. Log4j basically allows you to keep logs within the app and, as one Reddit user stated, “this framework had only one job to do”. Yet, here we are: with Log4j being open to attacks by even novice hackers. All that a hacker needs to do is send a worm in Log4j and it will be logged by the system. The hacker can then remotely execute code and thus gets access to all logs (as well as control over the system).
So why is it so bad? Simply because there is an astonishing number of services that use Log4j and the list includes Steam, Minecraft, and Apple iCloud. Of course, big companies are doing their best to quickly patch the vulnerability and roll out some safety measures. But since many big companies use legacy code, it slows the patching down significantly.
As for small companies, they have troubles with Log4j vulnerability as well. Due to their size, such companies often lack the resources needed to roll out a security patch and thus they are at a big risk too. And even though small companies and startups have become a lot more flexible and tech-oriented than years ago, there are still some security mistakes that many business owners fall for.
Why small and midsized businesses are risking their security right now
Cybersecurity has always been a vital issue for any online business so why focus on small and midsized businesses? There are actually several reasons why these business types are at risk today and statistics only prove it. The Kaspersky report states that the number of small businesses that suffered data breaches rose from 30% to 36% in 2021; for small to medium-sized businesses, the number of breaches rose from 46% to 48% in 2021.
As for the reasons, the report lists down the following:
- 28% of businesses who had a data breach do not have appropriate IT solutions to enable suitable security measures;
- 28% do not have in-house IT expertise;
- 25% use security software products that are for home use only.
Let’s talk a bit more about why small and midsized companies do not take their security seriously enough and what are the underlying reasons behind the certain decisions that business owners make.
Reason 1: the pandemic
It’s no surprise that the pandemic severely impacted all businesses and forced business owners to rapidly change their habits in order to adapt to the new environment. Naturally, the biggest concern for owners of small businesses was to keep their clients and stay afloat. So they invested heavily in improving their operations, enhanced their online presence, and simply tried to cut costs wherever it seemed possible. No wonder security concerns took a back seat: for many businesses, a cybersecurity strategy was either too expensive or seemed not so important.
But after some time, this ignorance towards cybersecurity stroke back as hackers proved to be as active as ever since the pandemic started. And as the number of cyber-attacks keeps growing, businesses really need to focus their attention on security.
Reason 2: no in-house expertise
As Kaspersky stated, many small and midsized businesses lack in-house IT expertise, especially when it comes to security. There is simply no one to tell a business owner what can be done and what is done wrong. So instead of preventing data breaches, such businesses deal with the aftermath and often have no clue about how to improve.
Reason 3: no security culture
Since many business owners overlook the importance of cybersecurity measures, there is no security culture in such companies. That means employees are not educated on the security basics and can easily make a mistake that would cost a company a great deal of money if a data breach happens.
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How to improve your security without going over the top: a list of strategies
If you have not adopted cybersecurity strategies in the past, you can still fix the situation without excessive spendings. Below, we list down the most suitable security strategies for small and midsized businesses that can help you make your business safer without too much headache.
Employee training and security culture
The first thing that you can do to adopt a cybersecurity strategy is implement the security culture and employee training in your company. The possible actions that you can take include:
- Inform your employees to use strong passwords and adhere to the practices of secure Internet use;
- Enroll employees in cybersecurity management courses;
- Implement guidelines for proper management of sensitive data;
- Secure all devices that your employees use, from laptops to mobile devices;
- Hold regular employee trainings on security best practices;
- Deploy a firewall of choice;
- Always use officially licensed software.
You can start with small things, such as replacing your antivirus home edition for the enterprise version or strengthening the passwords that employees use. By taking one step at a time, you will make great progress with your security in the future so don’t pressure yourself over enabling all possible security measures at once.
Continuous monitoring of sketchy behavior
Another thing that can greatly help with your security is the monitoring of abnormal online behavior that, in most cases, indicates a hacker attack. If it sounds too complex, don’t worry - there are plenty of endpoint detection and response tools (EDR security) out there that will automatically do the job. Of course, you’ll need to assign several specialists to operate these tools and report about the detected issues but it’s not as cumbersome as it might seem.
Expect a breach and prepare for it
It’s better to proact than react - hence, get used to constantly expecting a security breach. Now, we don’t mean to go into paranoid mode here - what we are saying is to stay alert. It may happen that a human error causes a security breach or your business might become the target of a hacking attempt. For all the possible scenarios, create an action plan on how to quickly recover from the breaches (and prevent them) and make sure all employees follow it.
Implement regular software updates
We can’t stress enough how important regular software updates are. They help patch the existing vulnerabilities, fix minor issues, and enhance the software. Therefore, it is vital to regularly roll out software updates to keep your business safe. If you are using third-party tools, it becomes a bit easier as providers automatically provide updates without the need for you to interfere.
And don’t forget to switch to enterprise software versions if you haven’t already - versions for home use are not enough at all.
Protect the network access
A network often happens to be one of the most vulnerable areas when it comes to security so make sure to implement the core security measures to it:
- Deploy firewalls;
- Deploy a secure router;
- Use secure keys and enhance user authentication;
- Use encryption;
- Use WPA2;
- Disable the DHCP or minimize the number of IPs assigned to it;
- Update router firmware.
These are the core security measures to take for any enterprise and they should help you boost your security significantly. And obviously, secure all devices that your company uses and pay specific attention to the end-point protection.
When it comes to cybersecurity strategy, there are many things that can fail you so it’s important to establish 360-degree security monitoring and management. It might require quite a bit of resource and time to set up proper security measures but it’s an absolute necessity if you don’t want to risk losing sensitive data and paying millions of dollars for one tiny mistake.
SoftTecoView all articles by this author.