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.

Accelerating Remote Work: It’s All About Experiences

In collaboration with Cisco.

If you’re prioritizing the acceleration of remote work right now, how are you delivering fast, spread out and great experiences every time?

Coming out of the acute crisis climate of COVID-19, many organizations faced the struggles of forced change, but also found some upside in the disruption.

Now is a time of both urgency and opportunity when anything is possible. What are you prioritizing?

Many organizations we work with are prioritizing the acceleration of remote work as a cornerstone of their digital transformations. When we talk with them about remote work, the conversation always comes back to experiences – both for employees internally and with customers externally. More specifically, how fast, spread out and great can those experiences be every time?

To answer that question and provide guidance on achieving that goal, we created the Best Practices Guide, Ready for Any Eventuality: Accelerating into Today’s Remote Work Reality in partnership with Cisco.

In the guide, we examine 4 core remote work capabilities – network, data center, collaboration and security – from the perspective of:

  • Compelling lessons learned so far
  • What organizations know now
  • Best practices for delivering effective experiences
  • How Softchoice can help

Here are some key highlights from the guide.

Key Highlights 

Network:

The location and scope of remote work will continue to change with every iteration of the next normal.

Best Practices:

Transition to a modernized digital network that supports quality user and application experiences.

Data Center:

The data center is fundamental, but the architecture can be complex and precarious. There is an opportunity to optimize and modernize.

Best Practices:

Achieve increased capacity and performance in the data center through simplified architecture.

Collaboration:

For both internal and external interactions, users expect rich, elegant and life-like experiences.

Best Practices:

Deliver an “office” quality experience every time through expanded capabilities, streamlined licensing and effective adoption.

Security:

Security must touch everything, but there also must be a balance between security and productivity (especially with distributed employees).

Best Practices:

Promote confidence in security when the boundaries of working are still in flux.

Staying focused on the experience

At Softchoice, experiences trump technology every time. If you’re looking to accelerate remote work and remain ready for whatever is to come, fast, spread out and great experiences are a vital goal. It’s important to be both intentional and decisive in how you proceed in your digital transformation.

When urgency and opportunity collide the way they are now, the partnership is paramount. Softchoice offers expertise based on precedents, broad Cisco knowledge and complementary capabilities to help you decipher, plan for, implement and enable adoption of the options that can help you deliver effective experiences to your employees and customers.

For ideas and advice on how to accelerate remote work with fast, spread out and great experiences every time, download the Best Practices Guide.

 

The Case for Backing Up Office 365

In collaboration with Veeam. 

Whether or not you agree that OK Computer, the third album by the English rock band Radiohead released in 1997, deserved its critical acclaim, know that the Library of Congress had already deemed the album “critically, historically, or aesthetically significant” when it was included in the National Recording Registry in 2014.

What cannot be disputed is that Radiohead has more than a little experience in dealing with data loss. The darker side of technology OK Computer foreshadowed became a reality 22 years after it was released when a hacker stole 18 hours of recordings, including unreleased content intended for the band’s next album. Rather than caving into the hacker’s demands for a $150,000 ransom, Radiohead pre-empted the hack and released all 18 hours of material and donated the proceeds to charity.

Most IT professionals, however, don’t have the same freedom as legendary rock bands to take the bold steps of calling an attacker’s bluff and releasing sensitive data. The burdens of mitigating the damage to an organization’s reputation and preventing serious outages falls on the shoulders of IT teams often working with limited time and resources.

In Office 365, Microsoft takes responsibility for ensuring the infrastructure is always up and running. Your IT team, on the other hand, takes charge when it comes to protecting the data generated and stored in Office 365.  We created the following infographic to help you understand the consequences of misaligned expectations around data protection in Office 365.

In today’s technology landscape, a solid backup and recovery strategy is critical to survival.

Working with a partner like Softchoice helps you cut through the complexity and select the best solutions for your Office 365 backup and recovery needs.

Looking to better protect your Office 365 data? Register for a free trial.

Jennifer Reed is Senior Manager – Solutions Architecture at Softchoice