Cybersecurity, information security, network security, IT security – the number of terms used to describe your IT asset and data protection reflect just how much work it is to define the full scope of it. Maintaining computerized systems and databases is as complex as it is necessary, accompanied by the growing reality that machines will be increasingly networked. The advantages of technologies like cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT) and AI will only continue to make them popular and – more importantly – cheaper to adopt in the future, until they become industry standards down to the small business level.
However, securing the IT infrastructure for these assets will still cost time, effort, and money – and not as much as a breach of the new accompanying endpoints would. Cybercrime is predicted to cost businesses over $8 trillion by 2022, along with up to 33 billion personal data records being stolen by 2023. Basic information security measures employed by small-and-medium-businesses are being fast outpaced by the speed of which their attack surfaces are expanding.
Rate of Cyber Attack
A survey carried out by UK-based Sophos and Vanson Bourne revealed a concerning trend among respondents, which were divided between larger and mid-market businesses. Though organizations under the enterprise size had less recorded cyber attacks on average (about 63 percent versus 73 percent), they were also more likely not to be able to trace a breach to its source. The results indicate that the smaller a business is, the less effective they are at detecting an attack.
This is because SMBs have less resources for around-the-clock IT asset monitoring or even investigating signs of a breach. With every hacking story focusing on extensive attacks against larger victims, it is easy to think that those are the most common cases. The reality, however, is that experienced and amateur cybercriminals alike historically have cast a wide net and go after the easiest targets at the time – it is only a matter of acquiring their attention at the right moment.
Lack of Attack Visibility
Hackers have become creatures of opportunity and most prioritize the path of least resistance. Unless they ask for a ransom, you will likely never know anyone has been in your system until it is too late. This obscurity is the greatest strength any attacker will have since you can only fight a threat once you see it. The report referenced previously showed that most threats were discovered within servers – an area once considered safer than normal by the respondents – and that in the US, it took at least 12 hours to even uncover a breach.
Even we at SWK have to deal with attackers attempting to slip past our defenses unnoticed, despite email filters and other measures catching dozens to hundreds of similar efforts per week. This image demonstrates how easy it is to create a fraudulent address that can fool protections for a short while and exploit the factor that is never foolproof – the human element. It is only because of firsthand knowledge of such attempts and clear instruction on internal practices that these scams are found quickly.
Lack of Endpoint Awareness
An endpoint is defined as the last stop in a communication node and in terms of information security, it refers to every machine that can access a network. This ranges from desktop computers to smartphones to anything in between that delivers messages through an Internet connection. The modern workplace can become a chaotic mess for IT teams to handle because of the proliferation of networked devices, including those of remote and traveling employees being used outside of an internal security net.
The lack of resources that can be devoted to information security practices among SMBs is exacerbated by the small candidate pool for experienced cybersecurity personnel. Such hires are sought after throughout the private and public sectors, and smaller businesses will not be able to compete with the rates offered by giant enterprises to fully assemble a dedicated IT surveillance unit. Without a team committed to monitoring your network infrastructure, the chances of a breach going undetected increases.
Strengthen SMB Information Security from the Ground Up
As a SMB, it is impossible to ignore just how useful the Internet is for your business, yet you must face the reality that it leaves you open through endpoints that you will never have the resources to cover every day. That is why you must also leverage your greatest cybersecurity weakness into your greatest strength.
Download the Essential Cybersecurity Toolkit for SMBs to learn how to reinforce your business against cyber attack.