Maximizing security investments as an SMB
Preparing for today’s threat landscape can be particularly challenging for small and midsize businesses. While larger organizations have more resources at their disposal, and might accept the diminishing returns of employing numerous security solutions, small and midsize businesses are often limited by the funds and personnel they can reasonably dedicate to cyber security.
The Danger of Being Unprepared
While no sector is immune to cyber risk, certain industries are typically targeted more than others. Healthcare, specifically hospitals, have been particularly badly affected by ransomware since 2016. Insufficient funding, outdated embedded operating systems and the incredibly high stakes of maintaining system uptime have made them vulnerable to attackers looking to leverage easy ransoms.
Many fast-growing fintech companies, which handle large volumes of financial transactions and considerable customer funds, have faced a surge of attacks. Like many newer organizations, growth and customer acquisition are often prioritized over security within these companies, leaving small security teams scrambling to close gaps before attackers can exploit them.
Most SMBs already have their perimeters protected with next generation firewalls and endpoint antivirus solutions. These protections have their rightful place in any organization’s security stack, but there are crucial gaps remaining that need to be addressed. As a result, IT and security leaders in SMBs come under a lot of pressure to ensure their next investment adds value by effectively reducing cyber risk, minimizing cyber disruption, and augmenting their human teams.
The Next Investment
There are an overwhelming number of options (and acronyms) flooding the marketplace today: NGAV, EDR, XDR, MDR, SIEMs, SOAR and so many more. But rather than looking at the market to decide which tools you need, it can be more productive to think about the specifics of your organization. Identify what is being used, how work is performed, and where data is sitting and being accessed from.
The right solution will vary for every organization. Protecting employees in a corporate office will look very different to protecting a remote team, for instance. There are a range of ‘coverage areas’ to consider, including network, endpoints, cloud, SaaS, email and OT systems. Knowing where your workloads are, what your users are typically accessing throughout the course of their workdays, and their physical location, will give you an idea as to where protections are most needed.
When deploying additional security tools, it is also worth considering their ease of use. Tools requiring a lot of time or technical ability to operate may not be a great fit for smaller organizations with lean teams. Ask whether the tools you’re considering require a lot of tuning, follow up activity, or correlation with alerts found in different platforms – as many do.
Realizing the Value of AI
To have a chance at matching the security capabilities of the big enterprises, SMBs require technology that can provide visibility over all of the systems, devices, and platforms which make up a business, collecting cyber security efforts together into a single view which not only simplifies things for small teams, but makes threat detections more effective as well. By utilizing contextual data from multiple “coverage areas”, Darktrace DETECT enhances its ability to illuminate cyber-threats that traverse multiple fields of operation.
Once a threat has been detected, an autonomous response function can act on behalf of stretched security teams. Many professionals lose hours of time after a threat has been detected to tasks that AI is more than capable of taking on.
The first of these tasks is threat triaging, which Darktrace’s Cyber AI Analyst performs autonomously, putting the highest-priority threats which require action in front of security teams immediately. The AI Analyst investigates and triages hundreds of these threats simultaneously, and reports on them in easy-to-understand summaries which are ready to be presented to company executives, security trainees, or whoever else needs to see them.
The pressure of taking action against threats after triaging can also be lifted from security teams. When the response time of a small team begins to drop – whether because the team is temporarily down a member, or the number of tasks is just too high – cyber-attacks can escalate. In the case of Darktrace RESPOND, the technology uses its evolving understanding of the bespoke organization to initiate a targeted response; one that stops the threatening activity without interrupting normal business, and keeps fast-moving SMBs running.
Making ‘the next investment’ can be a daunting task for SMBs. As the industry continues to grapple with a cyber skills gap, augmentation of existing resources – human or technological – will likely be at the center of a decision-making process. Any addition should make security simpler, not more complex or time-consuming. This requires a quick and easy set up, easy-to-understand outputs, and seamless integrations with existing investments – from firewalls and endpoint security to ticketing systems and zero trust architectures.
The protections and enhancements which AI brings to the table can turn a small, stretched team into a 24/7, machine-speed security operation that can prevent, detect and respond to cyber-attacks, all at once. By uplifting security teams and taking on much of the heavy lifting, AI gives your human teams the freedom to put their time and expertise where it matters the most: taking proactive measures that improve your security stature in the long term.