Last updated on August 26th, 2022 at 06:43 pm
Small and medium businesses frequently find themselves lacking in their cyber security postures.
This post is a guest submission. Please see our Affiliate Disclosure & Notification for details.
When it comes to cyber security, there isn’t much difference between small and medium businesses. Issues arise when small and medium businesses forget to take care of their security during periods of rapid growth.
This is usually due to a lack of physical and human resources to practice good cyber security. Small businesses often neglect to budget enough financial resources to create a solid security footprint and as a result, they are targeted by hackers more frequently than medium and large businesses.
Nowadays, no one is safe. The prevention of cyber-attacks must be prioritized no matter what the size of your business is. Hiring IT partners for this matter you can help you cover all steps of cyber security. IT security partners can provide you with solutions to the most common needs.
Since more companies are using cloud services there are a new generation of cyber-attacks and malware. Security patching can be implemented as a service and can cover both servers and individual computing devices.
Server Security Patching
Servers (and other IT equipment) are never set-it-and-forget-it. Applications running on a server can have vulnerabilities discovered after the software was released and installed. In these cases, the vendor usually releases a security patch which should be applied. But how do you know when that happens and obtain the patch? Every delay in updating a vulnerable application increases the chance that someone could break into your system and wreak havoc.
Having a tool that makes sure servers get the latest updates and checks to make sure the update is installed and running is critical. Ideal tools should provide scanning capability to know which patches to apply to each system, and scheduled deployment to ensure critical functions aren’t interrupted during the patching process.
For Windows-based servers, Automatic Updates can be configured via a local or group policy to install the latest OS updates. For Linux-based systems, a 3rd party tool such as Ansible can be utilized. You’ll also need to keep track of updates which are available for commonly used software like web browsers and other utilities.
Desktop Security Patching
Now that you have a server security patching you need look at your desktop systems as well so that your IT environment cannot be damaged. Fortunately, the same tools available for servers, also work for workstations/desktops.
Desktops need to have a strong level of enforcement when it comes to patches. Your users should not have permissions to delay patching indefinitely (because they will if given the choice). Patches must have a set deadline where the user can no longer postpone it.
Tools such as SCCM/MECM or PDQ Inventory/Deploy can be excellent tools to achieve this. In either case, for small businesses, it’s frequently best to outsource this operation if you don’t have adequate skilled staff to do so.
Intrusion Detection Systems
With these systems, you’re watching your IT infrastructure for evidence of intruders. Host intrusion detection systems and Network intrusion detection systems are two methods of gathering and analyzing information from your entire system.
Host Intrusion Detection Systems (HIDS)
A Host Intrusion Detection System is a desktop management service which watches all the programs executed and files accessed to determine if it’s being done by a legitimate user or a malicious actor. It reports back to you if it finds something that needs to be addressed.
Network Intrusion Detection Systems (NIDS)
A Network Intrusion Detection System (NIDS) is the second layer of protection that alerts you if intruders to enter your network. Generally these are physical components installed on your network that watch all the network traffic for signs of malicious activity.
The most common infiltration point in every single business is email. Malware can be delivered in various forms, such as links or attachments. Since email is used by employees, the attack surface is quite large. Attackers use emails for phishing, distributing ransomware, stealing personal information, and even industrial espionage.
Phishing is an attempt to steal information by links that look like legitimate websites where users are asked to insert their passwords. Attackers then access their personal or company data. Link or attachments can contain scams with a story that someone needs financial help and require to give them a bank account number.
Ransomware is a type of malware that can steal your data by clicking on links or attachments from emails that you received from attackers. Clicking on the links locks your files on your device. For unlocking these files, attackers ask to pay a ransom. Paying a ransom does not ensure that your data will be unlocked and returned.
Using advanced filters for mailboxes is one of the protections of your mailbox. Providing mail anti-virus, anti-phishing, and anti-spam can protect your data.
No matter how many protections you put in place, sometimes malicious attempts will get through to you or your employees. Ultimately, the employee is the last line of defense; they choose whether to click that suspicious link or open that unsolicited attachment in their email. This is why training is so important.
The purpose of security awareness training is to make sure that employees can understand and be aware of cyber threats. Training is designed to teach them how to recognize and avoid attacks.
It’s important to educate employees so they can understand the network and the importance of strong passwords and have the knowledge to recognize malicious emails. After a good training, they should be able to protect themselves and the others around them both in internal employee communication and in external communications.
Since small businesses are more vulnerable because of the lack of financial recourses, the question arises whether it is better to hire an IT company or let it go without protection. Is it better to pay an IT company or to pay a ransom? Be aware that by paying a ransom, there’s no guarantee you will receive the unlocked data.
Running a small business takes the risk of cyber-attacks and IT partners can provide you safe working environment, monitoring, prevention of incidents, and backup of your data so that in emergency cases and cyber-attacks data is safe.