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.

Digital Transformation and Multicloud Networking

Digital Transformation and Multicloud Networking

Most companies today use at least one cloud provider in some capacity.  Within two years, 92% of companies will be using two or more.

This hybrid cloud world is forcing traditional data center design to evolve. The rise of hyper-converged systems and software-defined everything requires businesses to reevaluate traditional network and security designs to take advantage of the as-a-service world of today.

[Read more…]

5 Reasons Why It Pays to Go (Windows 10) Pro


Download the Infographic here

Whether it is that time in the refresh cycle or your organization’s hardware has slowed to a crawl, upgrading to new devices powered by seventh-generation Intel Core processors and Windows 10 Pro can save time, money, and countless headaches. Here is why.

1. That old laptop isn’t what it used to be.

It used to be common for organizations to go for four or more years between hardware refreshes. But in today’s fast-changing IT environment, four years is an eternity. Accumulated files, outdated applications, and general wear and tear can turn formerly top-of-the-line machines into lumbering laggards, refusing to open multiple applications, choking on even basic tasks, and, of course, crashing.

Research shows that laptops and PCs that are more than four years old cause more than a few extra gray hairs among staff; they cost real dollars in lost productivity (see infographic). And when it comes to dated security features, the costs can be far worse.

2. Security comes out of the box — and in it.

Malware, ransomware, botnets, rootkits — we have all read the headlines, and if we have been in an organization that has suffered a security breach, we know the impact. The average cost of a data breach now exceeds $3.5 million, and with more employees spending time working outside the office or on personal devices, the security challenges are only growing.

Modern Intel devices running Windows 10 offer three layers of protection. First, built-in hardware-based security can prevent malware from infecting systems and software. Then, Windows 10’s upgraded security offerings limit access to certified programs, offer up-to-date antivirus protection, identify compromised devices across the network, and use encryption to safeguard business data from theft or destruction. Finally, new authentication features such as Windows Hello and Credential Guard can help address the most serious threat: the user who dutifully types in the same password at work, at home, and on social-media accounts. (Research shows that 75 percent of us use the same three or four passwords across all our accounts).

Companies running Windows 10 Pro can see a 33 percent reduction in security issues and the time required to resolve problems. And upgrading to more secure systems can pay off even if there’s no breach. Organizations can save up to $710,000 per year in security remediation expenses by running Windows 10 Pro.

3. New tools offer new ways of doing business.

Windows 10 devices with seventh-generation Intel Core processors offer better performance and longer battery life. They boot up and wake from sleep move more quickly, saving each user 15 minutes or more a day. But the hardware is just the beginning.

With Windows 10 Professional, the cloud is baked into the operating system. Employees can access their information and applications from anywhere, while state-of-the-art security extends into the cloud to protect company data. And with the latest Intel Core-powered devices, everyone benefits from new time-saving tools like digital ink, which  allows users to write, not type, on their PCs, laptops, and tablets—with proven benefits to understanding, organization, and memorization. No wonder, then, that studies show that Windows 10 can increase overall productivity across the enterprise by 50 percent.

4. Upgrading may not pay for itself in a year, but it is close.

Return on investment has a big impact on the bottom line, especially when you are talking about hardware upgrades. Windows 10 delivers, with upgrades paying for themselves in just 14 months, according to a Forrester study. Over three years, total ROI exceeds 233 percent.

5. Upgrading is no longer an all-day affair, making it easier to focus on upgrading your skills. 

Windows 10 only takes five minutes per device to install, requiring 70 percent fewer resources than the Windows 7 upgrade. And once installed, IT managers get better tools to oversee the enterprise, including dynamic provisioning and in-place upgrading, that can save up to 15 percent of their time.

But once you have upgraded to the latest and greatest Intel devices running Windows 10, it is time to relax. Right?

Not exactly. Both employers and their employees quickly realize how much-untapped potential is at their fingertips. In one survey, 64 percent of executives said that their companies weren’t taking full advantage of their IT investments. And more than 7 in 10 workers realize they are using less than half of the features available to them. So, with less time spent waiting for something to break or be breached, IT managers can spend their time exploring how to leverage the new productivity-focused features of Windows 10 across the enterprise. And that is a lot more exciting than thinking about the next iteration of the upgrade cycle.