Why Cybersecurity is Important For Small Businesses

Most small businesses think themselves beneath notice in the larger corporate world. After all, without the need for IT systems or significant infrastructure, there is less to manage and fewer vulnerabilities to address. Anything related to technology is often an afterthought for small businesses, and many make the mistake of believing that cyber threats are not a potential issue.

The unfortunate reality is that cybercriminals are more than willing to prey on small- to mid-sized businesses, even with bigger targets available. Widespread adoption of technology has made just about every enterprise a potential target. Given the lack of focus on technological infrastructure and fewer resources to dedicate to systems monitoring or recovery after a breach, these organizations are especially vulnerable. And every company has data worth stealing, to sell or use as leverage. The loss of any sensitive information can cost a company in both reputation and capital.

For small businesses, a bit of investment in cybersecurity can keep records safe and ensure that larger losses don’t happen down the line. There’s no need for a dedicated IT team to take necessary precautions when it comes to adopting new technology or infrastructure. The first step is acknowledging that, while small businesses are vulnerable, they are not without options for their own protection.

Many cybersecurity breaches are the result of internal error—I can’t emphasize this enough. As a result, controlling for human mistakes such as weak passwords, clicking on risky emails, and using mobile devices on unsecured networks can go a long way. Many do not realize how many points of vulnerability exist. Small businesses should ensure that the tools in place are easy to use for employees that may not be familiar with these matters.

Mobile devices are such a massive point of vulnerability that it’s worth dedicating time to examine all of the ways that they can go wrong. Between the difficulty inherent in managing them, the risk of public wifi, and employees bringing devices from home, small businesses will have to account for every possible attack surface. Consistent regulation is necessary to ensure that personal and business devices stay safe no matter where they go.

For that matter, small businesses should consider regulating access to certain systems and technology. Though they may not have an IT department or dedicated standards for who can access what, these organizations should consider which systems each employee has a consistent need for. If an employee doesn’t require a system to get their work done, they should not have access.

Planning for a cyberattack should also account for the worst-case scenario of a breach occurring and ease the recovery process. Making backups of everything digital is the best and easiest way that a small business can protect themselves in the event of a breach and allow for the least downtime when something goes wrong. The investment to create on- and off-site backups is minimal, but the safety it provides is huge.

This is only a small sample of the tactics that small businesses can consider when investing in cybersecurity. VPNs, software audits, and proven antivirus software can also provide an additional line of defense. However, any small business should recognize that precautions do not guarantee safety, and may want to consider investing in the services of a third-party cybersecurity firm to assess risk levels and provide scalable solutions. Technology will become even more involved in business, and safe adoption is important for businesses of all sizes.

 

Is the Cloud the Safest Solution for Security?

Ever since the ransomware attack of WannaCry attacked more than 230,000 across the world, the healthcare industry’s concern over cybersecurity has risen. Although there were no patients harmed in the attack and no data compromised or stolen, there became a serious need for healthcare organizations to strengthen their security. One of the most considered options is to migrate the information to the cloud so it won’t get into the wrong hands again.

Security of the Cloud
Could moving information to the cloud be more secure? It is almost impossible to recover data has been encrypted by a ransomware which makes preventing it from being stolen in the first place so important. Keeping secure data on the cloud would be the best way to keep it backed up instead of on-premises. In the perfect situation, there would be enough warning to isolate a ransomware infection and recover important data. Until then, backing up data on the cloud is an ideal solution.

DRaaS as Prevention
After the attack of WannaCry, the public’s biggest concern was the amount of damage caused by the downtime. A simple backup can restore a production database, but a DRaaS solution will be much faster. This is simply because DR is a system of replication that combines software and the cloud. This system is designed to lower downtime in a data breach and get organizations back on their feet and running in no time. By providing third-party support and geographic diversity, DRaaS gives healthcare organizations better security than secondary sites.

Healthcare Industries’ Opinion
Due to the threats of cybersecurity and hackers attacking healthcare organizations, the industry knows something must be done. The organizations have recognized that using the cloud to strengthen security is the best option. The cloud can be used to manage threats, isolate incidents and backup important data. Most recently, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Jeremy Hunt, was the first to sign off on an official guide to help the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) move to the cloud.

Although moving the cloud is favored by most, there are a few concerned about compliance. Many IT Departments in healthcare do not have the correct roles or expertise to implement the cloud into their security. But there are organizations to help those in the health industry to help utilize the cloud in their security. It’s imperative that the health organizations use the cloud technology to beef up their security and take strong measures against cybercriminals.

How Healthcare Can Adapt to Cyber Threats

As the healthcare advances in technology, cybersecurity threats rise. Cybercriminals are becoming increasingly more creative with their hacks, making the need to up security direr. With the rise of security incidents such as WannaCry or the proliferation of cryptocurrency coin miners, there is a growing risk of disrupting the delivery of healthcare. The healthcare industry must now adapt to a more comprehensive and security-centric strategy. There are a number of ways the industry is planning on advancing their security:

How Cybercriminals Attack
Cybercriminals have become quite crafty with how the attack the healthcare system. One of the new and most popular ways is exploiting the software supply chain. Since the health industry heavily relies on a network of partners, attackers will choose a supply-chain-based attack to breach an organization or to get to one of their suppliers.

This kind of attack can take up to three forms: hijacking a supplier’s domain to direct traffic to an infected domain, directly compromising the software of a supplier, or targeting any third-party hosting services. The healthcare industry is at high risk for these kinds of cyber attacks because of how much they use third-party partners and services.

The Latest Industry Breach Trends
Security breaches that involve data of more than 500 people are the responsibility of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). By posting their findings of each breach on the HHS OCR Breach Portal, they provide data that can be analyzed to find the latest cyber security trends in the healthcare industry. Analyzing this data found that the number of breaches in the industry rose 10 percent within the last year. As the number of breaches is increasing, the healthcare industry’s security approach is beginning to change.

A study by HHS Analytics found that 40 percent of healthcare organizations cybersecurity is a scheduled item of discussion among the boardroom. The HHS also reported that the three biggest figures holding health organizations back from reaching a higher level of cybersecurity back were budget, staffing and skill set. The healthcare industry understands that the cybersecurity concerns are high and are in need of a stronger security program that is more broadly focused and go beyond HIPAA compliance.

Best Security for Healthcare
With so many cybersecurity threats for the healthcare industry, there is a desperate need for protection against hackers. Healthcare industries and organizations stand a chance against these cybercriminals by seeing cybersecurity as a business risk, address it regularly at a board level, hire qualified employees for new security roles or even consider the security implications when purchasing equipment. By incorporating these security measures, industries have a better chance against cyber attackers and hackers.

Does Cybersecurity Need A Rebrand?

Contrary to some popular perceptions, cybersecurity is not about defending against men in ski masks hunched over laptops. Similarly, cyber attacks don’t consist of hackers typing furiously on a keyboard before declaring “I’m in.”

In reality, cybersecurity is an aspect of IT management that is an issue because of the evolving nature of threats and a relative lack of professionals in the field. Those with a better sense of the workings of cybersecurity may picture an expert as an IT specialist trying to contend with the many vulnerabilities inherent in any enterprise system.

In reality, the work is more satisfying than stressful. Whether you work in the IT department for a company or a managed services offering for cybersecurity (as I am), it can be fulfilling to know that you’re acting as a gatekeeper for one or more organizations. There seem to be some misconceptions about the industry in general. The challenges in the form of numerous cyber attacks can be seen, but it has never been a better time to break into the industry.

The Information Bind

One of the issues facing the industry is a simple lack of information. According to a survey from the University of Phoenix, most US adults are not aware of many of the cybersecurity jobs available. This is compounded by a large percentage who are not aware of the education they would need to prepare themselves for such a career, even if they have a background in skills such as programming and data analytics. It may be that, as a still-developing industry, that colleges and universities will have to emphasize cybersecurity as a career option.

Are You a Problem Solver?

As another angle, it’s worth considering the mindset required by anybody looking to break into cybersecurity. Though the technical skills necessary to get into the field exist in abundance, aspiring cybersecurity professionals should think about whether they have the problem-solving mindset. In cybersecurity, situations can change in an instant, and the ability to adapt to new information is something that cannot be taught.

More Than Just Technical Skill

In cybersecurity, strengths come not only from the ability to work with enterprise systems and identify potential attack platforms but interpersonal skills as well. A CISO or similar will need to impart critical information to employees to respond to a breach or train them in best practices. A professional in the industry shouldn’t work independently of any other department—they should be actively involved in the affairs of their organization.

Diversity

Diversity is also something that the cybersecurity industry has struggled with in recent years, even as it has been proven that diverse perspectives provide benefit to any workplace. As previously mentioned, problem-solving is essential, and attracting a more diverse crop of candidates can lead to even more opportunities in the industry. It comes down to existing professionals to appeal to top talent, selling the many opportunities available to anybody making the switch to cybersecurity.

Get Employees Invested In Cybersecurity

As summer starts to come to a close and those beach towels get stored in attics for another year, there’s still a genuine danger. Hint: it isn’t sharks.

In fact, the summer months are the most dangerous for enterprises when it comes to cybersecurity. As crimes such as burglary increase in the summer, so too do cyber crimes, as malicious individuals take advantage of employees attempting to access unsecured wifi networks. On top of that, IT departments may be less able to respond to attacks promptly.

Because of this, it is more important than ever for employees to be safe, even when out of the office on vacation. I wrote recently on the value of a cybersecurity education program for enterprises but would like to go more into depth about the steps a company can take to get employees as engaged as possible with using company systems safely.

Don’t Make Training A One-Time Event.

Even if training is very well structured, a single course over an hour or two is unlikely to make a lasting impression. Some experts believe that even repeating this training on an annual basis is unlikely to have the desired effect.

It’s understandable that enterprises wouldn’t want to get locked into regular cybersecurity training, though erring on the side of caution is valuable for any organization. One happy medium is cybersecurity drills, in which false phishing emails are sent to employees. The company can then track how many people clicked on the email, and break down progress by the department. Other types of threats can also be simulated, monitoring progress between training sessions.

Give Employees The Responsibility.

Though every employee should be involved in good cyber practices, it helps if they have somebody to refer to on a moment-to-moment basis when in doubt. Specialized training for employees interested in learning cybersecurity can help an organization create liaisons if dedicated IT staff are not available. This saves companies the trouble of reevaluating IT staffing while expanding the knowledge base among employees.

Make Reporting Easy

Training is entirely pointless if employees do not feel comfortable reporting potential issues. Regardless of who investigates potential threats, it should be simple and easy for employees to flag them if a problem arises. An easily-accessed form can go a long way toward bridging the gap between these employees.

For that matter, it is also valuable to give IT staff education about how to talk to employees about cybersecurity issues. They may not get a good sense of the knowledge level of an average employee, or express their frustration if a colleague makes a mistake. An empathetic approach works best, in which they work to fix problems rather than scold employees for errors. This makes individuals much more willing to come forward with the issues they encounter.