Security solutions for SMBs

Security Solutions and Strategies for Small to Medium Businesses (SMBs)

October is National Cyber Security Awareness month and with still a few months until the new year, it is the perfect time for business leaders to revisit their current cyber security posture to identify areas to improve. When researching cyber security solutions, it can be difficult to identify which areas will make the most impact for your business. 

When reviewing your current security measures, policies, and processes – investigate whether these core areas have been implemented to safeguard your users, technology, and data. 

Create an Incident Response Plan 

Creating an incident response plan (IRP) is a critical component of a robust cybersecurity strategy. An IRP outlines the steps an organization will take in a security incident to minimize damage, reduce recovery time, and maintain business continuity.  

To create a well-rounded IRP, businesses should include the following elements: 

  • Build a plan: 
    • Develop a general incident response plan 
    • Include detailed playbooks for various threats and scenarios 
  • Develop a response: 
    • Have a well-defined triage plan 
    • Include a communication strategy 
  • Define incident severity: 
    • Define classifications of threats 
    • Define incident severity tiers 
  • Assign roles: 
    • Establish a cross-functional team 
    • Assign roles and responsibilities 
    • Create a RACI chart to include which role is responsible at each step of the plan 

For more info, read our step-by-step guide on Creating an Incident Response Plan. 

Incident Response Plan

Ensure Your Disaster Recovery Strategy is Tested and Up to Date 

People often associate Disaster Recover Planning with natural disasters and large phenomenon. However, in most cases, DR (Disaster Recovery) plans are enacted whenever there is a large enough event to disrupt operations and in doing so, threaten the business. 

Here are some top considerations when creating, reviewing, or updating your DR Strategy: 

Risk Assessment and Business Impact Analysis: Identify potential risks and conduct a business impact analysis to understand the potential consequences of different disaster scenarios on IT systems and operations. 

Prioritized Recovery Objectives: Based on your analysis, define Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs) for each critical system or application. This sets the timeline and data loss tolerance for recovery efforts aligned to your business operations. 

Data Backup and Recovery: Establish a robust backup strategy for critical data and systems. This should include regular backups, offsite storage, and secure methods for data restoration. Other items to consider are whether your business should leverage cloud backups versus a data centre, backups vs replication, and redundancy and failover solutions. 

Infrastructure and Application Documentation: Maintain up-to-date documentation of IT infrastructure, including hardware configurations, network layouts, software versions, and system dependencies including application dependency mapping. 

Testing and Validation: Regularly test and validate the disaster recovery plan through simulated exercises, ensuring that it can effectively restore systems and data within the defined RTOs and RPOs. 

By incorporating these elements into an IT-focused disaster recovery strategy, organizations can better prepare for and respond to catastrophic events, minimizing downtime and ensuring the continuity of critical business operations. 


Upgrade from Traditional to Managed Antivirus for Endpoint Protection

While traditional antivirus software met the needs of most businesses for a time, this is increasingly no longer the case. Cyber threats have evolved to evade traditional measures and get around safeguards intended to protect your business. Managed antivirus software is a more robust solution to traditional antivirus software and includes enhanced management, monitoring, maintenance, reporting, and policy enforcement leading to more proactive threat responses and reduced administrative burden.  

Managed Antivirus Features: Centralized Management: Managed antivirus solutions come equipped with a dashboard for centralized management, patching, updating, and monitoring for antivirus applied across multiple devices or systems.  

Automated Updates and Patch Management: The managed service provider (MSP) is responsible for ensuring that antivirus software is up to date on all devices. This includes regular updates and patch management to address new threats as part of the service. 

Real-Time Monitoring and Alerts: Managed antivirus solutions often include real-time monitoring of system activity. Any suspicious behavior or potential threats are immediately flagged across all protected devices, allowing for swift action. 

Reporting and Analytics: MSPs can provide detailed reports on the status of antivirus protection, including malware detection, system health, and compliance with security policies. 

Scheduled Scans and Maintenance: Managed antivirus solutions allow for automated scanning schedules, ensuring that regular scans are performed without requiring user intervention. 

Policy Enforcement: Security policies can be enforced across all devices, ensuring consistent protection measures are in place. 


Managed Detection and Response (MDR) Services 

If you want to take endpoint protection one step further than managed antivirus, determine if managed detection and response services are a good fit for your business. 

MDR is a comprehensive cybersecurity service that focuses on proactive threat detection, rapid incident response, and continuous monitoring of your IT environment. Unlike traditional cyber security solutions, MDR provides real-time threat intelligence and 24/7 monitoring by a team of expert cybersecurity analysts. 

Managed Detection and Response services include:  

  • 24x7x365 continuous monitoring of core infrastructure including network, endpoints, and cloud environments 
  • Advanced threat detection and analysis through behavioral analysis, anomaly detection, and signature-based detection to identify potential threats 
  • Security reviews and ongoing tuning of rules, policies, and processes for enhanced security posture  
  • Expansive log collection and retention for analysis   

While it comes at a higher cost, MDR services are one of the most powerful ways to ensure all endpoints and network connected devices are safeguarded effectively.  


Security Awareness Training 

Despite the numerous security measures that can be layered onto an IT environment, the human component remains one of the most vital to get right. Educating employees on how to identify, avoid, and report cyber threats is one of the most powerful ways a business can protect itself from cyber threats.  

Organizations can leverage security awareness training to develop comprehensive cyber security program on topics such as password hygiene, data and privacy best practices, recognizing common red flags of phishing, and how to stay safe through email, social media, and other potential attack vectors.  

Security Awareness Training helps businesses: 

  • Promote a Security-Aware culture 
  • Measure and track progress through simulated phishing and learning modules tests 
  • Identify and adapt to evolving threats 
  • Establish reporting channels for pinpointing actual threats in the environment 
  • Tailor training to job roles and what they may face in their day-to-day 
  • Offer training in a variety of formats including video, in-person workshops, online courses, and interactive simulations 


Multifactor Authentication (MFA) Security Solutions 

Adding multi-factor authentication (MFA) to your business’s authentication process is an essential step in enhancing security and a crucial step in securing remote access. MFA solutions require users to provide two or more forms of authentication before they can access an account or system. The goal of MFA is to add an extra layer of security beyond just a username and password. This helps to significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access, even if a password is compromised. 

According to studies by Google and Microsoft, MFA can prevent up to 99.9% of automated attacks, reduce phishing attempts by 75%, and decrease unauthorized access rates by 56%. 

MFA requires equal parts, selection, configuration, implementation, and training.  

Here’s a guide on how to implement MFA for your business: 

Select an MFA Solution: Options include hardware tokens, software tokens, SMS-based authentication, mobile apps (like Microsoft or Google Authenticator), and biometric authentication (fingerprint, facial unlock, etc.). 

Identify Critical Systems and Applications: MFA is not always a great candidate for every application. Prioritize which systems, applications, and services require increased levels of security and implement MFA on those first.  

Configure Accounts and Communicate Change to Users: Explain the benefits of MFA and provide instructions on how to set up their MFA credentials. Each user will need to set up their own credentials (e.g., token, mobile app) during this process. 

Enforce and Test MFA Policies: Set policies that require MFA for specific actions, such as logging in, accessing sensitive information, or performing high-risk operations. Verify that users can successfully authenticate using their chosen MFA method. 


Incorporate Role-Based Access Control and Principle of Least Privilege 

Incorporating Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) and the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP) is an important part in ensuring that employees have the correct level of access to critical systems and data. When following this process, companies ensure that users only have access to exactly what they need without any excessive permissions or privileges that could be leveraged if their account were compromised. By properly implementing RBAC and PoLP, organizations can greatly reduce risks of unauthorized access and minimize the impact of security incidents. 


Email Security Solutions 

Email remains a key entry point for hackers to deliver malware, gain unauthorized access, and cause disruption to businesses in a variety of ways. A 2021 report by Trend Micro determined that that 75% of attacks started with an email and 92% of all malware was delivered through email with phishing emails accounting for 90% of all data breaches. 

On top of security awareness and MFA solutions, another protective layer to add to your environment is email security solutions. Email gateway security tools employ various techniques to detect, prevent, and mitigate email-related security risks. 

Email Security Solutions can safeguard your business email activity with: 

  • Antivirus and Anti-Malware Scanning 
  • Anti-Phishing Protection 
  • SPAM Filtering 
  • URL and Link Scanning 
  • Attachment Analysis 
  • Email Encryption 
  • Additional Authentication and Verification 
  • Logging, Auditing, and Reporting 


Vulnerability Assessments 

Vulnerability assessments are systematic evaluations of an organization’s IT infrastructure, applications, security measures, and processes to identify potential weaknesses or vulnerabilities that could be exploited by cyber threats. Conducting regular vulnerability assessments is a crucial component of an effective cybersecurity strategy and helps produce prioritized remediation roadmaps to close any security gaps that are uncovered. 

Vulnerability assessments can be self-run if you have access to a toolset and security resources in-house or outsourced to a company.  

Vulnerability assessments typically include: 

  • Automated scans of network-connected devices, servers, applications, databases, and critical systems 
  • In-depth manual testing and verification to identify additional vulnerabilities automated tools may miss 
  • Assessments of patch management processes, security configurations, and compliance with security polices 
  • Documented findings and recommendations prioritized by severity, impact to business, and effort required for remediation  


Network Segmentation as a Security Solution 

Network segmentation is a security strategy that involves dividing a business network into smaller, isolated segments or subnetworks. Each segment, or “zone,” has its own set of security policies and controls. This approach helps to contain breaches, limit lateral movement of threats, and reduce the potential impact of business network security incidents.  

Here are the key aspects of network segmentation as a security solution: 

Isolation of Resources: By dividing the network into segments, critical resources (such as servers, databases, and sensitive data) can be isolated from less critical systems and user devices. This limits access to sensitive information, reduces the attack surface, and can contain threats to one segment reducing the ability for spread. 

Access Control and Permission Policies: Network segmentation allows for precise control over who has access to specific segments. Access policies can be implemented based on user roles, device types, or specific criteria. Different applications may have varying security requirements. Network segmentation allows for customized security policies based on the needs of each application. 

Traffic Monitoring and Analysis: Segmentation enables more granular traffic monitoring. This allows for better visibility into network activity, making it easier to detect suspicious or anomalous behavior. 


Which Security Solutions Are Right for Your Business?  

The security solutions listed above can significantly reduce risk to your business. However, they are just the tip of the iceberg for what should be included in a more comprehensive cyber security strategy that encompasses security technologies, processes, policies, and training. The right mix of cyber security solutions and process improvements will differ based on each organization’s unique requirements and technology environment.  

If you would like to get cyber security advice or help selecting security solutions for your business, contact us today to get a quote. 

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