The 3 keys to IT security for SMBs

In collaboration with Netsurion.

Cybersecurity is about more than just technology – it’s also the people and processes in place to ensure that organizations enact security measures in a way that minimizes risk.

Finding the right people with the right skills and knowledge to keep the business safe from online threats is a challenge at the best of times. Add the complications around COVID-19 and the complexities of remote work and an expanding threat landscape, and it’s no surprise that a recent forecast suggests cybersecurity spending could increase to outpace overall economic growth by early 2021.

Is your small or mid-sized business ready for these challenges?

To help you answer that question, we explore the 3 biggest cybersecurity threats to SMBs today and how to overcome them.

New challenges

As a small-to-medium-size business (SMB), emerging threats from the new work-from-home scenario may have seemed more annoying than dangerous. Tactics like zoombombing, which at first seemed to be a childish form of cyber harassment, quickly took a darker turn. But as the lockdowns continued, organizations around the world faced steeper challenges.

Many SMBs didn’t fully anticipate the security risks associated with people working on unsecured home networks, accessing work files and data with personal devices or using non-approved cloud-based file-sharing services. For the most part, these organizations had to respond to threats while dealing with (in many cases) steep reductions in revenue and the need for IT personnel to work from home themselves.

The pandemic has also seen a rise in reports of malware, formjacking, and compromised websites, as well as growing numbers of email attacks preying upon concerns about COVID-19.

The rising costs of cyber attacks

A 2019 study of 850 SMBs (ranging from 10 to 1000 employees) found that nearly two-thirds had experienced a cyber attack. Nearly all of those surveyed said that cybersecurity was a top 5 priority in their organization, but 62 percent also said that they didn’t have enough IT talent on staff to adequately defend against attacks. Meanwhile, 52 percent reported that they felt unable to defend themselves against new types of cyber attacks.

Although reports of cybersecurity breaches often focus on the number of records left exposed, in incidents involving SMBs, data loss is often the least of their concerns. Instead, it’s the costs in lost reputation and customers that have an impact, even after the network is secure again. Time is also a critical factor. The longer a breach goes undetected, the higher the associated penalties in lost business.

Every organization needs protection against online threats, malware, suspicious behavior and unusual network traffic. It’s important that protective measures kick in quickly so that businesses can shut down the threat before lasting damage occurs.

What is SOC-as-a-Service and why is it important?

A good security operations center (SOC) is built on 3 important and interrelated components: technology (platform), people, and process.

It takes all 3 working in concert to achieve the goal of cybersecurity defense.

To build the infrastructure for a comprehensive SOC takes several tools and technologies. A complete, tuned security information and event management (SIEM) solution provides the visibility foundation for the platform. Additional elements include firewalls, IPS/IDS, vulnerability assessments, and threat intelligence feeds, so the SOC staff can correlate and analyze activity.

At the same time, endpoint monitoring technologies that scan for vulnerabilities, protect sensitive data, and ensure compliance with industry and government regulations feed into the platform. But no platform can ensure optimal detection without the application of machine learning to the massive amounts of data that flow through it. In turn, this needs to be fine-tuned by human specialists, making up the people component.

A SOC calls for a dedicated team of highly skilled security analysts, with the bandwidth to monitor 24/7. To be able to configure security monitoring tools, do triage, perform root cause analysis and conduct in-depth threat hunting, they need sysadmin skills, capability in a variety of programming languages, in-depth security knowledge and relevant certifications such as CISSP, GCIA, GCFA, and others.

In today’s market, the shortage of security experts is an established fact. Industry group (ISC)2 predicts there will be a global shortage of almost 2 million cybersecurity professionals by 2022. Being an effective member of a SOC team calls for skills, discipline and a clear understanding of all the activities that must be carried out, which leads us to the process component.

Processes related to a SOC are based on a clear definition of the strategy that incorporates business-specific goals and the organization’s risk tolerance. Documentation of the strategy, goals and risk posture forms the basis for process documentation. Each stage of an investigation is spelled out in detail. To ensure the highest quality SOC, an organization may want to pursue ISO certification to demonstrate that proper information security controls are in place. Read more about going from “Zero to SOC” in this whitepaper from Netsurion.

The effects of the cybersecurity skills shortage

Even before COVID-19, many SMBs struggled to staff their network and IT security teams. The 2019  Cybersecurity Workforce Study estimated that more than 4 million positions were left unfilled, and this shortage will only have grown because of the economic impact of the pandemic.

For many organizations, the effects of short-staffed network and IT teams can be serious. Understaffed teams are more likely to be overwhelmed by the number of tools they need to evaluate and implement – an important point to consider when a given SMB might have as many as 50 or 60 different solutions in place.

In the current climate, with many businesses already facing financial pressures due to lost revenue, IT budgets are already straining to protect staff as they work from anywhere, and often, on any devices.

Already challenging before the pandemic, the role of network and IT security is even more complex due to the need to protect a remote workforce and an increased pace of attacks, and they need to do all this with a smaller budget.

Key challenges businesses face to stay secure include:

  • The need to support an already-lean IT team, but without hiring additional staff
  • The ability to access flexible options that meet SMB budget constraints
  • The need for a purpose-built threat detection and response system that uses machine learning, behavior analytics, and security orchestration – all with 24/7 SOC expertise
  • Getting started quickly with minimal training and limited downtime once running

Organizations rely on digital and remote capabilities. They must run fast and lean while maintaining secure networks and avoiding risk gaps in cybersecurity. Netsurion’s industry-leading SIEM platform with a SOC fuses people, process and technology. Netsurion is driven by the importance of cybersecurity and works to make it a reality for every organization, no matter their size or budget.

Connect with us to learn more about the Netsurion solutions that will help keep your business secure against cyber threats.

The 3 Main Risks to Videoconferencing Security

In collaboration with Google.

Videoconferencing technology isn’t new, but it has experienced a distinct rise in popularity and strategic importance as many more organizations shift to remote work. 

A flash survey of 550 U.S. employers in March 2020 and found that 67% of them were in the process of allowing more workers to telecommute. As these working arrangements become more common, video conferencing will be an important enabler of collaboration and productivity.

To be acceptable for regular business use, a videoconferencing solution must be high performing and highly secure. These requirements are even more important in remote work environments where people join using a variety of devices. 

Not all videoconferencing security is created equal, however. Inadequate protection puts users at risk of attackers hijacking meetings, intercepting sensitive data or accessing recorded sessions without authorization.

For these reasons, it’s important to select a videoconferencing service like Google Meet, which implements multilayered protection against these common threats while offering a simple, scalable conferencing experience.

The 3 Main Security Risks to Videoconferences

Like all internet-connected applications, videoconferencing applications pose risks around improper access and data leakage. But they also present 3 distinct vulnerabilities:

  • Hijacking: Online videoconferences have meeting IDs and PINs that are made public (e.g., because someone has posted one on their social media profile or email signature) or easily guessable. Without protection, any person with these meeting credentials could join and disrupt the proceedings or acquire sensitive information.
  • Screen sharing: Related to the above, most videoconferencing applications include screen sharing functionality. An unauthorized participant could become the active presenter use to make their desktop the (unwanted) focus of the session.
  • Recordings: Many video meetings are recorded for later viewing or transcription. Where and how these recordings are stored and protected is important, as improper access or lack of encryption can mean that sensitive information falls into the wrong hands.

Beyond these in-app risks, videoconferencing software also has the potential to increase the attack surface on a client device. For example, on a desktop or laptop PC, a videoconferencing solution may require the user to download browser plugins or other software, some of which fall outside secure distribution channels like the Windows Store or Mac App Store. These extras further increase risk of compromised security.

Google Meet: Secure Videoconferencing for Remote Work

Google Meet is a videoconferencing solution with multiple layers of protection against modern threats, making it ideal for corporate deployments. 

Built on Google’s secure global infrastructure, it reliably stops abuse such as hijacking, securely stores and manages access to meeting recordings and runs safely and entirely within a browser (desktop), app (mobile) or dedicated video hardware (meeting room).

For instance, to prevent hijacking, it requires someone within the organization to approve any join request by an external participant. This reduces the risk of someone eavesdropping or actively disrupting the session.

Like other Google services, Google Meet undergoes regular audits for privacy, security and regulatory compliance. As well as industry-leading protections, it also delivers reliable and scalable performance, complete with support for hundreds of concurrent users, screen sharing, recording, G Suite integration and a 99.9% up-time service-level agreement.

Softchoice is committed to meeting your needs for business continuity, security and stability. By ensuring organizations get the most value from their Google Meet deployments, we help them scale and secure their communications and ultimately preserve productivity in increasingly remote workplaces.

Looking to adopt a secure videoconferencing solution? 

Get Google Meet tailored to your business.

Softchoice Virtual Discovery Expo 2020: The Highlights

The Softchoice Virtual Discovery Expo (VDX) 2020 has now wrapped.

Over 2,000 people registered to hear from Softchoice and our exhibitor partners about the areas driving their digital transformation today. This year, our full-day virtual tech expo happened in a much different context than the inaugural event in 2019.

Attendees took away an important message: The current global crisis and its impacts have forced many organizations to embrace change. Done the right way, however, this change will be a catalyst to re-imagine the way they approach transforming through technology.

Now that they have taken steps to adapt to change, secure and stabilize business operations and find efficiencies, VDX participants learned how these steps lay the foundation to make them more agile, more efficient and more secure as they travel the road to recovery.

Among those we surveyed, enabling secure and productive remote work, protecting data, adopting and managing cloud infrastructure were the most compelling topics. While some were still adjusting to remote work or found that they were ready to move to the next stage of their recovery, most respondents told us they were still in the middle of that journey.

While there were enough topics covered to fill several articles, we’ve put together a recap of the biggest highlights from VDX 2020.

Digital Transformation in a Time of Crisis

 Keynote by Aaron Brooks, Sr. Director – Strategy & GTM Enablement at Softchoice

Our reality is changing and pivoting to adopt the right agile strategy is more important than ever. Softchoice’s Senior Director of Strategy and GTM Enablement Aaron Brooks kicked off VDX 2020 by exploring the ways organizations are positioning themselves for growth and success in recovery.

The Highlights:

  • Digital transformation isn’t on hold, it’s just pointed at new problems. New ways to go-to-market in times of necessity will drive growth on the road to economic recovery and beyond.
  • It’s time to ask, “What does our organization really need?” Anxiety around IT costs has raised the need to re-allocate resources to keep your business working.
  • When times are tough, lean on your core values. Staying connected not only as a business but as people has been at the center of our journey to recovery.

Watch the full keynote on demand

The Evolution of Remote Collaboration

Keynote by John MacDonald, Head of Americas Productivity & Collaboration Specialists at Google

John MacDonald, Head of Americas Productivity and Collaboration Specialists at Google, delivered a keynote examining the trends influencing the current communication and collaboration landscape and what we can expect to see in the near and medium terms.

The Highlights:

  • The status quo needs to change. Businesses are realizing the urgent need for collaboration tools at all levels, but still face issues around siloed information and lack of IT security.   
  • People want flexible workforce functionality. Organizations need collaboration tools that support work/life balance and allow teams to adopt quickly and collaborate securely.
  • Everyone’s situation is unique. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to providing secure, smart, simple collaboration solutions.

Watch the full keynote on demand 

How to Achieve Simplified and Highly Effective Security Operations

Keynote by Mike Storm, Distinguished Engineer, Security Business Group at Cisco

In a time of uncertainty, you need a cybersecurity solution with your best interests in mind. Mike Storm, Distinguished Engineer with the Business Security Group at Cisco, explained a three-pillared approach to successful security operations based on quality threat intelligence.

The Highlights:

  • Security controls are only as effective as the threat intelligence they act on. Any security solution depends on access to current, accurate and usable information to remain effective.
  • The more you see, the more you can stop. Unmatched visibility into threats helps protect against them before attackers can exploit vulnerabilities.
  • Organizations need to stay protected after Day 1. Effective security operations depend on a collective, collaborative approach to threat protection.

Watch the full keynote on demand 

Ready to Re-Imagine Your Digital Transformation?

This is just a sample of the insights our exhibitors and partners shared with attendees at VDX 2020.

As you define your journey from continuity and stability through efficiency and recovery, it’s important to recognize the ways the new reality will help you compete and thrive once there.

If you didn’t attend or there was something you missed it’s not too late to take advantage of on-demand breakout sessions, keynotes and downloadable content from our 35+ exhibitors.

No matter where you are on your road to recovery, our team of experts and product specialists are ready to help. 

Explore Softchoice Rapid Response Services