Combating cybercrime is an inevitable part of doing business today. Malicious hackers have become increasingly sophisticated and determined, and nearly every day news breaks of another major data breach. Even large enterprises with ample resources aren’t immune, with corporate giants from a variety of sectors such as Dunkin’ Donuts, Facebook, Sprint and Quest Diagnostics all experiencing data breaches this year.

Even as Prime Targets, SMBs Remain Woefully Insecure

Despite the ubiquity of cybercrime, most small-and-medium businesses (SMBs) are woefully underprepared, putting themselves, their employees and their customers at great risk as a result. In fact, according to a recent study conducted by the Ponemon Institute, only 28 percent of SMBs rate their ability to mitigate threats, vulnerabilities and attacks as “highly effective.” Even more worrisome, nearly half of SMBs (47 percent) say they have no understanding of how to protect their business against cyber attacks.

It’s understandable why many SMBs remain in the dark about cybersecurity. Some believe they couldn’t possibly be a target, given their ‘small fish’ status compared to enterprise organizations. Additionally, the cybersecurity market is downright overwhelming. A quick Google search for “cybersecurity solution” populates more than 15,300,000 results, and few vendors focus on catering to SMBs specifically. This makes it incredibly difficult to differentiate between the slew of various products available and pinpoint one that best fits the unique needs of a growing business.

Still, SMBs must recognize that even as comparatively ‘small fish,’ they are very attractive attack targets. Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report found that 43 percent of breaches involved SMBs. What’s more, the number of cyber attacks — including phishing, advanced malware, zero-day and ransomware attacks — is on the rise, with 67 percent of SMBs experiencing a cyber attack and 58 percent experiencing a data breach in the last 12 months.

5 Ways Security-as-a-Service Can Bolster Cybersecurity Efforts

To establish a thorough cyber defense, particularly when hiring in-house cybersecurity staff isn’t a realistic option, many SMBs are leveraging Managed Security Service Providers to obtain Security-as-a-Service. The key benefit to this approach is that Security-as-a-Service can provide SMBs with immediate and affordable access to skilled cybersecurity professionals and field-tested security processes that become an extension of internal IT resources.

More specifically, SMBs can leverage Security-as-a-Service to incorporate the following five cybersecurity best practices:

  1. Monitoring and Hunting for Threats – SMBs need to be proactive and continuously look for threats to ensure they aren’t breached. However most SMBs lack the time – and sometimes the skills – to properly investigate the security alerts that their technology provides. A good Security-as-a-Service provider will pick up the slack and triage alarms for you, letting you know what’s most important. Look for providers who can quickly perform root cause analysis and implement steps to remediate a situation before the damage of a data breach becomes more extensive.
  2. Responding to Incidents – Cyber risks (such as unusual traffic on an unsanctioned port, unauthorized access to a specific file share or any other activities that violate an organization’s acceptable standards) are best mitigated by acting quickly. Without the right technology or processes in place that generate alerts when systems are compromised, the scope of an incident will grow and ultimately can result in a catastrophic business impact or even regulatory fines.
  3. Maturing Security Processes – It’s important to have solid, tested and repeatable processes in place when incidents arise. But most SMBs lack the skills to develop – or the time to constantly update – security processes that stay up-to-date with their evolving business systems and threat vectors. Security-as-a-Service providers can provide immediate access to field-tested processes that are the product of thousands of hours of work based on knowledge gained from hundreds of customer environments.
  4. Patching Systems – Sophisticated attackers exploit unpatched and misconfigured software every day, which makes patch management a vital part of any cybersecurity program. However a lack of time and staff, as well as technical, organizational and process control challenges all contribute to why SMBs don’t continuously scan for vulnerabilities and regularly patch systems. Security-as-Service providers can help manage a systematic program to scan for vulnerabilities and unpatched or misconfigured software, in addition to helping with patch deployment and providing change control processes to review, approve, schedule, apply, validate and if needed, roll-back patches.
  5. Compliance – On top of monitoring and responding to incidents and patching systems, SMBs must also make sure they are effectively meeting compliance regulations such as GDPR or the California Consumer Privacy Act. Compliance can be a major challenge since different industry regulations have specific requirements, however. Look for Security-as-a-Service providers who will help you with client-requested audits and can help prepare documents and artifacts to satisfy compliance requirements.

The Fight Against Cybercrime Requires a Trusted Partner

Establishing and continually updating cybersecurity processes can feel like an insurmountable task. The good news is, though, SMBs don’t have to go at it alone. Rather than hiring additional employees or deploying complex software, SMBs can leverage Security-as-a-Service to increase the quality of their cybersecurity program. To optimize the Security-as-a-Service approach, start by making a checklist of considerations that are critical to your organization, such as specific security goals, unique business processes and/or compliance requirements. In doing so, SMBs can determine which cybersecurity providers are able to deliver the most effective services and serve as true, trusted partners in the ever-evolving fight against cybercrime.

Kevin Landt is VP of Product Management at Cygilant and has over a decade of experience helping Security and IT Operations teams increase efficiency and reduce risk. At Cygilant, he leads a team of PMs dedicated to providing enterprise-class security-as-a-service for companies of all sizes. Prior to Cygilant, Kevin held director and leadership roles at Opsgenie (now part of Atlassian), Kanguru Solutions, and Intel.

Software stock photo by Mikko Lemola/Shutterstock