It’s not just the Fortune 500 companies who need to be concerned about the safety of their data. Cybersecurity continues to remain a top concern for small and medium businesses throughout 2019. As hackers continue to target companies with historically less robust cyber defenses, SMBs need more than ever to learn how to protect against cyber attacks.

According to Cisco’s 2019 SMB cybersecurity trends, only 38 percent of SMBs have an active cybersecurity strategy. As cyber attacks represent enormous losses in terms of resources, system downtime and capital, SMBs need to take a closer look at where their plans might fall short.

There are numerous ways to take control of a cybersecurity strategy and enhance data protection across an organization.

Five Ways to Enhance SMB Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity has changed dramatically over the past two decades, making it more difficult than ever to know how to protect against cyber attacks. Whereas strong passwords and a firewall used to be enough, cybercriminals are more sophisticated and tenacious than ever. Keeping a network safe relies on more than just basic measures. Five ways to enhance SMB cybersecurity include:

1. Minimize the Attack Surface

The attack surface consists of the total environment wherein an unauthorized user – such as a hacker – has an opportunity to gain entry to a network. Minimizing this attack surface is one of the easiest ways to mitigate risk and prevent threats.

To illustrate an attack surface, consider a house. A burglar who wants to enter has several choices: they may try the front or back doors, one of the windows, the garage, or perhaps a climbable tree to a deck on the second floor. Each of these points represents the house’s attack surface, which is how the house is vulnerable to entry.

Reducing the network attack surface works the same way as securing a house. The owners may lock the doors, install security cameras, add security bars to the first-floor windows and trim branches away from the deck. Likewise, a network administrator may install access controls on a printer, segment a network, implement two-step authentication, or improve protections within the company’s email server. In each case, these steps reduce the opportunities which criminals have to access the house or the network.

2. Create Bulletproof Policies

Policies help instill security best practices into an environment. Update policies related to device usage, password requirements, and authorized software. Consider implementing strategies such as:

  • Whitelisting policies which allow no software or application to run on the network which isn’t explicitly given permission.
  • Zero trust policies which require users to identify and authenticate themselves every time they connect to the network.
  • Least privilege policies which grant users the fewest permissions and privileges they need to do their jobs.

3. Leverage Models, Diagrams, and Analytics

Control of a network begins with visibility. Use models, diagrams, and analytics to help identify weak points in a system. Remember to include models and diagrams in any device which is web- or network-connected – including printers, scanners, or other IoT devices.

A significant advantage of network documentation and modeling involves the ability to analyze network traffic. It becomes much easier to see features such as bottlenecks or inefficiencies which may be refined to improve workflow efficiency. Likewise, such information can help spot improperly configured or unauthorized devices, such as those employees that have installed it themselves to do their job. It also helps spot areas to simplify the IT infrastructure, thereby reducing the network’s attack surface.

4. Rethink Endpoints

An endpoint is any point through which a user accesses the network. Traditionally, these have included computers, mobile devices, and routers. Most traditional cybersecurity approaches focus on securing endpoints. While that’s a practical approach, focusing on endpoints can result in missed areas. For instance, printers have hard drives, CPUs and a wireless connection – they’re computers, yet, they’re often overlooked in cybersecurity strategies.

Modeling the network helps identify devices which now constitute an endpoint even if it’s computers – not people – who are using the device to access the network. Everything from printers to smart office devices should be considered an endpoint and secured accordingly.

5. Stay Current on Major Breaches and Tactics

Understanding and planning for known threats are the most effective ways to build defenses against unknown ones. Therefore, make a point of staying abreast with cybersecurity developments both within the company’s industry and at large. Knowing the major cyberattack trends helps a company anticipate and prepare before disaster strikes.

DME Helps SMBs Improve Their Cybersecurity Strategy

With the business world increasingly awash with data, cybersecurity is an important topic. SMBs don’t always know how to protect against cyber attacks. That’s where tools such as managed network services can step in to help.

An MNS provider is a specialized professional who understands the nuances of cybersecurity. They can enahnce an existing strategy or assist a small business with cybersecurity plan development. With SMBs constituting the primary focus of cybercriminals, the guidance of an inveterate professional can prove to be the difference-maker.

DME helps small businesses with cybersecurity plans. Start a conversation today about how we can assist you with securing your network and your data.