Why 2020 could be a bad cybersecurity year for SME’s

SME’s are a prime target for cybercrime.

They have reduced expertise, minimal money, and an attitude, we are too small to be a target, that leaves them wide open to a cyber event.

Our industry, the people who know and think we understand the bad guys have been pushing for an attitude change for the last 10 years. In a large number of ways, we have failed, especially in the SME space.

In some, we have failed significantly.

By the time we get called in, after a cyber event, it is way too late.

To late to recover, too late to respond and definitely too late, in a number of organisations, to get back to business as normal.

Most SMEs, after a cyber event and especially after a ransomware attack, have but 3 choices,

  • pay the ransom,
  • recover from backup and hope you have a decent backup (a decent, tested backup is vital, no matter the situation)
  • or go out of business.

Here are 3 cybersecurity strategies that every SME should implement to be more secure and avoid that devastating cyber event.

Training users

Increased awareness of business security in a workplace is vital in today’s business world.

Not many businesses know where to go to get that training.

Training needs to be done as an ongoing process.

Once or twice a year is inadequate. But training and education has to be easy, bite-size pieces, easily digested, easily implemented and easily followed.

In addition to ongoing training, you also need to incorporate business security into your onboarding process to instill the required cultural elements into new people on staff.

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Risk management and gap analysis

SME’s have a limited understanding of the new risks delivered to the business via our digital components.

The game has changed significantly in the last 10 years and we, as small and medium businesses, are constantly playing catch-up.

We are significantly hampered and handicapped by the impact and scale of our digital usage.

It is everywhere, used in every component and used all of the time.

To understand the risks without understanding the systems you need some help.

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With the report, you can now implement a gap analysis and work out what you need to do to increase security around your organisation.

The report also ties in well with:

Implemented a framework

If you are looking for a better way to manage security within your Organisation, you need to look no further than a framework.

A framework is a documented system that allows an organisation to follow the bouncing ball and tighten up the security in a regimented way.

The more the components of the framework are implemented the more secure and mature the organisation.

Frameworks are easy to follow and implement and the one I recommend is the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity framework.
https://www.nist.gov/cyberframework

Answer the 98 questions, honestly, and you now have a road map to implement cybersecurity in a significant way.

The NIST cybersecurity framework also gives you a number.

Between 0 – 4, it can be used as a comparison between businesses, supply chain components, and government departments so you can do business with like-minded organisations.

What can SME’s do?

It is not too late to implement any of these strategies. The bad guys are getting more and more clever, so time is running out.

They are targeting everyone who is connected to the digital world, the internet, with more sophisticated systems, a number of them are now fully automated.

Some of those automated systems have minimal human involvement after the initial set up.

From initial social engineering attack, all the way through to payment of ransom everything is automated and driven by machine learning.

Every SME should be implementing a training and education process, doing a risk and gap analysis and implementing a cybersecurity and business security framework.

With that everything else will follow.

The business will be more stable, the culture of the organisation will change and getting back to business as normal after an attack can be significantly easier.

The impact of a cyber event for an organisation implementing these 3 components or not is significant.

If you haven’t implemented these 3 strategies in the last 12 months, 2 years or 5 years then 2020 is going to be a bad year.

But it’s not too late.

Why you need a new breed of Business security

Introduction

In the last 20 years, there has been a slow change in how the business approaches the management of the ICT component.

As business and technology changes there have been significant changes in the management process of these systems.   The more complex and costly the systems the more dedicated the support has to be.   We have gone from onsite support from staff (I know computers) to off-site support from a service provider.

SME’s no longer have the resources available to manage their ICT and a new breed of company has been slowly taking more and more control over these parts of your business.

Managed Service Provider (MSP)

Originally these organisations were known as ICT or IT companies.   They were usually run out of hardware and software stores and were more focused on those areas.

It was eventually realized that just managing the hardware and software of small and medium business and not for profit organisations was not enough.   When technology broke, the most organisation still could not afford a technician to come to the site and an IT company need to make their resources go further.

The managed service provider did a number of additional things:

  • They had systems that remotely monitored and managed (RMM) the technology within the organisation.   This allowed them to give feedback to the clients in the way of comprehensive reports on their network
  • They had helpdesk capability to fix issues as they arose from the RMM systems or issues that arose from the users.
  • They started to become proactive, not reactive.
  • In a number of ways they even became vendor managers.  They looked after their clients from the internet down to the user.

Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP)

The business has changed and the requirements for ICT support have changed, the MSP needed to do more.

To be competitive and to be more productive they started adding on services.   These services included if not delivered by the MSP:

  • off site backup,
  • managed firewall,
  • web application firewalls,
  • web site management,
  • managed Anti Virus and many more.

In most cases, they were a bolt-on action to the MSP requirements and were supplied to maximize profit and reduce cost.   In a large number of situations, the customer was not getting value for money because the MSP was tied to a specific vendor.

In the last 5 – 10 years, the bigger the perceived problem with security was the more clients were going to purchase systems from their trusted advised – their MSP.   Once again increasing profits by reducing costs.

Any MSSP that does this is actually exposing their clients to huge problems.   Most of the service level agreements (SLA) reduce this down to “all care no responsibility”

Managed Business security service provider (MBSSP)

SME’s and NFP organisations needed to approach business security in today’s business world from a new direction.

Business security has to be approached from the top down.    Management and board members HAVE to get involved.   Your MSP or MSSP who is not recommending risk management and cybersecurity frameworks is in fact doing a huge disservice to your organisation.

Risk management and a risk management process looks at all of the risks to the organisations and allows you to think and work through the process and deliver strategies to protect the organisation.   It includes the ICT and technology area but there is so much more that has to be incorporated into a risk management plan.

The second part is a cybersecurity framework.   A framework does a number of things:

  • It focuses management on the required tasks to secure the organisation.
  • It removes knee jerk reactions to perceived threats.
  • The more you implement the framework the more secure your organisation.
  • It has to be done with the involvement of all areas of the organisation from management down and from coal face up.
  • It can be managed with reduced costs, expertise and time constraints

Most frameworks have a baseline requirement.   When you start to implement the framework you have to know how secure you are before you can start to improve.   The baseline also allows you to look at priorities within the organisation.

Conclusion

If your organisation is still using an MSP or an MSSP to manage your security without looking at the risk components or without implementing a cybersecurity framework (we recommend the National Institute of Standards and  Technology (NIST) cybersecurity framework) then you need to rethink your business security requirements.

Talk to an organisation that is focused on MBSSP capability.

Secure your business!

Get proactive!

Do the scorecard!

Read your report!

Link to scorecard https://caremit.scoreapp.com

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