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Top 10 Considerations for Cybersecurity Program Development for Small and Medium Business

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are increasingly becoming targets of cyber-attacks due to their perceived vulnerabilities as compared to large enterprises.

According to the US National Cyber Security Alliance, 60% of small businesses that suffer a cyber attack will not recover and permanently close down within 6 months.

According to a report by IBM and the Ponemon Institute, the average data breach cost for businesses with fewer than 500 employees is $2.98 million, and the average cost per breached record is $164.

It is crucial for SMBs, especially those in compliance-driven industries such as healthcare and financial services, to invest in cybersecurity programs to protect their sensitive data and maintain compliance with regulatory safeguards defined for their industry.

In this article, we will introduce the basic steps every business needs to take to protect themselves from cyber threats that can cause irreparable harm.


7 Steps to Better Security

Follow these steps and you will be on the right path forward.

1. Identify your business assets. Asset identification is important in security because it helps organizations understand what they need to protect. Without proper identification, critical assets could be overlooked, leaving them vulnerable to attacks. It also allows organizations to prioritize their security efforts and allocate resources effectively based on what they can control. This first step might sound obvious, but it's often one of the most common problems facing businesses of all sizes today. Without knowing what devices the business owns, you can't work towards better security.

2. Conduct a risk assessment. The second step in developing a cybersecurity program is to assess the risks that your business faces. Identify the potential threats that your business is exposed to and the impact that each threat could have on your organization. A thorough risk assessment typically covers all aspects of your business, not just technology. This includes, but is not limited to, your business operations, employees, third-party vendors, and physical security.

3. Develop cybersecurity policies and procedures. Once you have identified the risks, you should develop cybersecurity policies and processes that outlines the steps that your business will take to protect itself from cyber-attacks. The policies should cover all aspects of your business, including employee training, password policies, data encryption, and incident response.

4. Train your employees. Employees are often the weakest link in a company's cybersecurity defenses, but when trained right, they can prevent what would otherwise be a high impact security incident. Therefore, it is crucial to train your employees on cybersecurity best practices, including how to identify phishing emails, create strong passwords, and handle sensitive data securely. Regular training sessions should be conducted to keep employees up-to-date with the latest threats and best practices.

5. Implement access controls. Access controls are critical in preventing unauthorized access to your company's data. Implement access controls such as two-factor authentication, password policies, and role-based access to limit the access that employees, vendors, and other third-party users have to sensitive data. By creating access rules for your organization, you will make it that much more difficult for malicious adversaries to succeed.

6. Secure your IT infrastructure. Your IT infrastructure is the backbone of your business and should be secured using the latest cybersecurity tools. Implement firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, anti-malware, web filtering, data loss prevention and other security software to protect your business from cyber threats.

7. Backup your data. Data backups are essential in mitigating the impact of a cyber-attack or a data breach. Implementing a data backup strategy that includes regular backups of all critical data, storing backups offsite, and testing backups regularly to ensure they can be restored quickly in the event of a disaster will be critical should your business experience an advanced cyber attack such as ransomware.

8. Monitor and analyze security events. Continuous monitoring and analysis of security events can help detect and respond to cyber threats promptly. Implement a security information and event management (SIEM) system that collects and analyzes security event data from all your IT systems and devices to identify potential threats and anomalies. Unlike traditional endpoint security products like Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), a SIEM coupled with an EDR and IDS/IPS solution will provide complete observability across all traffic. What this means in simple terms is that with more context you can build a story of what's happening and improve your ability to respond accordingly to advanced cyber threats.

9. Investigate and respond to incidents. An incident response team is a group of professionals who are responsible for managing and responding to security incidents within an organization. The benefits of having trained professionals that can respond to security incidents include faster investigations, more efficient incident management, and reduced downtime and damage caused by security breaches. Unlike security analysts who are focused on prevention, incident response experts have more specialized training and expertise in combating threats post-compromise and can be invaluable during active ransomware and other high severity security incidents.

10. Test your security controls. It's very important to routinely test your security controls. This includes, but is not limited to, performing vulnerability assessments to identify security gaps. You can take it one step further by attempting to use real-world exploits to simulate a cyber attack through a pentest. There's an inverse relationship between the frequency of security testing and the risk of a high impact cyber attack so these exercises are critical to improving your security posture.


Final Considerations

Developing a cybersecurity program can be a daunting task for SMBs, but it is essential to protect their sensitive data and maintain compliance with regulations. By following these basic steps, small and medium businesses can create a robust cybersecurity program that will protect them from ransomware and other advanced cyber threats.

At American Cyber, we understand the unique challenges that SMBs face, especially in compliance-driven industries such as healthcare and financial services. Our team of cybersecurity experts can help you develop a customized program that meets your business's specific needs.

Contact us today to learn more about our cybersecurity services and how we can help you protect your business from cyber threats.


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