As businesses increase in size, it’s more difficult to keep their security posture on the same level without a significant budget. Having the power of combining your security and business needs with available managed services on the market instead of hiring expensive dedicated staff is a great way of balancing spending and outcome.

An increasing attack surface

It is certainly not news that cyber threats are on the rise globally. Every day there are multiple headlines and social media posts about companies falling victim to an attack. Cyber risk is a growing threat to all companies, even small- and medium-sized businesses. It is no wonder that CISA has recently published a detailed advisory for all businesses on how to protect themselves against ransomware attacks.

The fact is that over the past two years, driven by the urgent need to support new operating norms – remote work, eCommerce, digital payments – small and midsize businesses have heavily invested into digitizing their processes. Cloud computing platforms, APIs, apps and data located outside the traditional on-premises data centers are now the new normal of doing business. Despite the benefits afforded by this digital transformation, businesses are facing a whole new array of cyber threats and risks.

Many small businesses falsely consider that they will not be targeted by cybercriminals because their value is not significant. However, this is far from being true. The fact is online criminals attack a small business just as much as a large one. As witnessed in the case of criminal group APT41, small and midsize businesses are often targeted as a gateway to higher-value targets, critical systems, and highly classified information.

A multi-faceted challenge

To respond and adapt to the expanding threat surface, most companies are planning to make, or have already begun making technology-driven organizational changes that define a digital transformation. These businesses have realized that cybersecurity is not yet another expense, but it is essential to their competitiveness, growth, and future success.

Nevertheless, the cyber challenge faced by small and medium businesses is multi-faceted. They are often under-resourced and are particularly affected by a global cyber-skills shortage. Understaffed security teams are overwhelmed with defending the business from the full range of cyber threats while managing an increasingly distributed workforce and complex digital infrastructure.

An intolerable disruption

The combination of under-resourced security operations teams and sophisticated attackers can really become explosive for small and medium businesses.

The recent Colonial Pipeline attack demonstrated the damaging ripple effect of a single, well-crafted ransomware attack. To contain the breach, operators shut down 5,500 miles of pipeline, which carries 45% of the east coast’s fuel supplies. A few days before that incident, a ransomware attack at Scripps Health, a major healthcare system in San Diego, which led to the suspension of access to its online patient portal and website. Scripps’ network was not fully operational for weeks after the event.

This kind of disruption is intolerable for small and midsize businesses. Not only is it damaging to customer trust and to the wider reputation of the organization, but the cost can be enormous. According to the IBM Cost of Data Breach 2021 report, ransomware attacks cost an average of $4.62 million, more expensive than the average data breach ($4.24 million). In the retail sector, where many small and medium businesses operate, the cost of a data breach exploded to $3.27 million, an increase of 62.7% compared to 2020. These costs included escalation, notification, lost business, and response costs, but did not include the cost of the ransom.

Be realistic to avoid failure

Simply trying to stop attackers from getting onto systems is utopic. It doesn’t work for the advanced attacks that businesses face today. Small and medium businesses must become resilient to contain the attacks quickly and minimize disruption so that the organization isn’t negatively impacted. Accepting that attacks will happen is not accepting failure. It is the reality of being a mobile and interconnected business.

While creating a culture of security to build the right defenses to reduce the overall risk to business is a key strategic choice, small and medium businesses do not have the funds to establish a robust posture.

For example, while Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) are imperative for enterprise companies to manage their cyber risk, the salary range for such professionals is likely prohibitive for small, even midsized businesses. In addition, building a security operations center (SOC) to continuously monitor for abnormal behavior is mandatory to have the capacity to detect an attack in its early stages and minimize the impact, but supporting such a facility requires skills and personnel.

Managed services can help businesses to avoid victimhood

The solution is not to become the victim of an ancient Greek sacrifice. Small and medium businesses have the opportunity to reap the benefits of managed services offered by specialized companies. Whether these services come in the form of a vCISO, vSOC or consulting, they have become a popular option for a large number of companies, allowing them the option of obtaining the services of highly qualified professionals at a fraction of onboarded personnel salary.

There are many reasons to consider contracting a managed services company:

1. Grow your business.

Growth-oriented businesses have already realized that cybersecurity is an enabler to success. Having in place a robust security program will demonstrate to your prospective clients that you have proactively and effectively built-in security to help discover and reduce vulnerabilities early.

2. Develop an effective cyber risk management program.

Putting an effective cybersecurity strategy in place can be overwhelming. And with a tight budget, how do you prioritize efforts when it comes to investing in a cyber risk management solution? Investing in a managed service solution you will benefit from:

  • Gaining visibility into your risk environment by performing a vulnerability risk assessment on your organization’s infrastructure.
  • Analyzing the key risk factors to prioritize what to do in response.
  • Understanding the level of risk reduction that can be expected from a given investment in risk mitigation.
  • Evolving your cyber strategy over time to map with the business needs as your business evolves.

3. Maintain compliance with regulations and standards.

Maintaining compliance with an increasing patchwork of security and privacy regulations and standards is not yet another tick-in-the-cheat-sheet exercise. It is an ongoing effort that goes well beyond one-time assessment. Regulatory compliance is an enabler for robust cybersecurity and privacy posture and a demonstration of respect towards your customers and partners.

How ITEGRITI can help small and medium businesses

ITEGRITI offers a wide variety of managed cybersecurity services.

By establishing a key set of necessary tasks and developing a model where organizations can select services to meet their specific need and budget, ITEGRITI can provide ongoing compliance and cybersecurity advisory through our Virtual support models:  vCISO, vCompliance Team, and Workforce Support. Our fractional resource models are very cost-effective.

In addition, ITEGRITI designs and implements programs that help companies avoid hacks, detect breaches when they occur, minimize business disruption during a cybersecurity event, and reduce incident recovery time. We work with organizations to align cybersecurity programs with enterprise risks and first consider existing security hardware, software, and security/compliance controls. We help companies establish and evaluate specific control objectives and internal controls, measure operational effectiveness, and establish an improvement plan that includes actionable remediation activities.

To learn more, contact our experts now!