19 Jun Building robust cyber security in an SME is crucial for its success
How to build robust cyber security for SMEs.
Cyber criminals target businesses of all sectors, specialisations and sizes. Various surveys and studies claim that around a quarter of SMEs worldwide have been targets of cyber attacks. Cyber attacks are generally intended to obtain sensitive information and personal data which can be used in identity theft.
Traditionally small businesses tend to have less secure networks and systems making it easier for attackers to breach the latter. We will delve into the main cyber security building blocks required to build a robust cyber security that protects against cyber malicious actors.
Wearing too many hats is risky
SMEs more often than not collect the same or very similar data larger corporations do, just on a smaller scale. Customer data and other personal information is valuable to cyber criminals, irrespective of the source. Smaller outfits tend to be weaker prey. A common occurrence in small businesses is that management or even the owner themselves would be primarily focused on growing their business and end up wearing multiple hats at once. They are usually focused on getting clients and revenue in, so cyber security takes a low place on the priority list.
Cyber threats are on the increase, and the results of an attack can be devastating, to the point of sending an SME out of business – therefore cyber security should be an undisputed priority list topper. Trying to be jack of all trades or finding the excuses ‘hackers won’t be after small fish like us’ or ‘we don’t have the time, energy and funds for cyber security as we’re small’ do not waiver the cyber risks that exist.
Quick plan for your small business
Following is a quick 8-point plan that will help guide you through the creation of a robust cyber security for your business.
- Create policies (if need be consult or engage a VCISO) and clearly communicate them to all employees and stakeholders;
- Update all your software including open source software systems;
- Attend together with your team cyber security awareness training;
- Implement a sturdy firewall;
- Back up (on regular basis) all your data;
- Install and keep up-to-date Anti-malware software;
- Restrict authority and actively manage access rights; and
- Use strong passwords (and change them often!)
Be Mindful of internal threats
Employees should have limited access to data, systems and software applications. Authority should be congruent with the role’s specific needs. Whenever individuals change roles or leave the organisation, the required access rights should be changed accordingly. Restricting the authority for software installations will radically reduce the risk of malware and ransomware being downloaded and installed.
Unfortunately humans are the weakest link inside an organisation when it comes to cybersecurity – being proactive means educating your workforce to be aware of the cyber threats that exist and act smartly and vigilantly in their day-to-day operations. On an ongoing basis, carrying phishing attack simulations help see how ‘ready’ the organisation is, if it falls victim to a social engineering malicious effort by cyber criminals.
In addition, finding any possible vulnerabilities in your systems and applications, before cyber attackers do, is key. The best practice in this scenario is to organise penetration tests carried out by an experienced and reputable cyber security firm in Malta.
Cyber security threats are not going away any time soon and latest trends show that small businesses are increasingly falling victim to breaches. A cyber security strategy needs to cover and implement 360-degree cyber security measures that proactively protect all the data, devices, networks, systems, applications and stakeholders in and around the company.
Even without an internal cyber security team, defence against attacks can be in place and in case of breach, having recent backups handy will reduce the hackers’ leverage, which is normally in the form of requests for ransom money. Security practices are to be codified into policies and (make sure to) enforce them accordingly to avoid weaknesses.