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By 23 August 2023 | Categories: news

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By Martin Potgieter, co-founder and technical director at Nclose

The recent cyberattack on Microsoft serves as a stark reminder that no organisation, regardless of its size or industry, is immune to cyber threats. Even small businesses, often assuming they are less attractive targets, are actually vulnerable. But what are the specific challenges faced by small businesses, and how can you make smart investments in cybersecurity to safeguard your digital assets and maintain trust amongst your stakeholders?

The Inevitability of cyber incidents

The idea of achieving absolute cybersecurity is actually a bit of a myth. Cyber threats are getting more and more advanced, and they’re targeting businesses of all shapes and sizes across different industries. Some prominent companies suffered attacks in the recent past, including Norton LifeLockMailChimp and Activision. That just goes to show how crucial it is to change our focus from solely trying to prevent breaches to actually preparing for them.

Small businesses may not be as attractive to cybercriminals as big companies like Microsoft, but they are still on their radar. The motivations of the attackers may differ, but the end goal is the same: to exploit weaknesses and get unauthorised access to valuable information. That’s why it’s important for small businesses to take action and acknowledge their vulnerability.

To ensure their resilience, small businesses must prioritise preparedness above all else. Instead of simply hoping to avoid an attack altogether, they should focus on having robust systems and processes in place to respond effectively in case one does happen. Having an incident response plan can make the difference between swiftly minimising the impact of an incident and facing potentially disastrous consequences.

Formulate a comprehensive incident response plan

A well-structured incident response plan should include:

Contingency planning

Having a clear roadmap for handling different types of incidents is essential. However, it’s important to strike a balance in your approach. Creating a comprehensive plan for every possible incident would be overwhelming and impractical. Rather develop a high-level plan that can address a range of incidents, while also having a more detailed plan specifically tailored for common attacks like ransomware.

Recognising data sensitivity

It is crucial to have a clear understanding of your business’s information assets. Instead of attempting to classify all data before creating an incident response plan, focus on identifying the most critical information that needs protection. Trying to classify all data upfront can create unnecessary bottlenecks.

Conducting practice sessions

Being prepared is crucial when it comes to dealing with cyber threats. That’s why practice sessions play a vital role. During these sessions, a potential breach is simulated to see how well the company responds. Having a ready-to-go decision matrix can help you make informed decisions during a real crisis.

Navigating budget constraints 

When it comes to smaller companies, one of the big challenges they face is dealing with limited budgets for cybersecurity. I know it can feel like a real constraint, but that’s where having a well-thought-out strategy becomes super important. Seek advice from the experts and focus on investing in areas that will have the biggest impact on your resources.

You’ve probably heard of the 80/20 rule. Well, it applies here too. By putting around 20% of your budget in the right places, you can actually reap about 80% of the benefits you want. But here’s the catch—getting that last 20% might need a bigger chunk of the remaining 80% of the budget. So, it’s important to carefully consider which security solutions are worth investing in.

Small companies often find themselves in a bit of a pickle. There are so many security solutions out there in the market, each one claiming to be unique and super effective. It’s not as simple as picking a cool drink where you know one tastes better than the other. It’s more like facing a bunch of magic potions with uncertain outcomes. This complexity makes it particularly tricky to identify the most effective solution when you’re working with a limited budget.

Allocating your resources smartly can lead to some serious benefits. It’s all about prioritising the security measures that tackle the most critical vulnerabilities and give you the biggest bang for your buck. Trust me, it’s definitely worth it!

Investing in employee cybersecurity awareness training is another essential aspect of your defence strategy. Cybercriminals often exploit human vulnerabilities through social engineering techniques. That’s why it’s crucial to educate your employees about phishing scams, keeping their passwords secure, and practising safe online habits. By doing this, you can greatly decrease the chances of successful cyber-attacks.

Above all, I can’t stress this enough: No business is safe from cyber threats, so it’s essential to be prepared.

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