While most small businesses have come to terms with the fact that a cybersecurity incident is not a question of “if,” but rather “when”, many are still struggling to translate this into the right security architecture and mindset.

Pressured by an ever evolving threat landscape, old security paradigms are predicted to force many victimized SMBs out of business. Will you be one of them?

If you are guilty of these common mistakes, your cybersecurity may be doomed to fail in the year ahead:

1. You think your business is too small to be a target

Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report revealed that 43% of all cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses.  While many small business owners believe they can’t afford to keep their companies safe, the cost of a breach can be significant.

Smartly allocate your security budget by focusing on the end goals – whether that be protecting client data, safeguarding intellectual property or avoiding network outages. This will help you prioritize your investments and make the appropriate business compromises between security, usability and cost.

2. You’re unable to defend against zero-day, multi-vector or polymorphic attacks

Since the 1980s, we’ve seen an evolution of cyberattacks, which continuously force us to update the way we protect network environments. First generation attacks included viruses and were mainly contained using anti-virus software.

In the 90s, threats became more sophisticated as hackers targeted networks – making firewalls an essential security defense. The 2000s ushered in the mass use of applications along with the exploitation of their vulnerabilities, which made intrusion prevention systems (IPS) popular. Starting in 2010, we began to see zero-day threats, which use highly evasive polymorphic content to bypass traditional defenses. Behavioral analysis tools have helped us tackle these threats.

Currently, we’re witnessing the proliferation of largescale and multi-vectored attacks, like WannaCry and NotPetya. In these attacks, hackers attempt exploits on multiple fronts -including network, cloud and mobile devices – at the same time. This makes cybersecurity much more complicated.

Cybersecurity is not something that you can set once and forget about it. Cybercriminals keep gaining ground because they are financially incentivized and willing to innovate. As we enter 2020, expect to see even more sophisticated attacks, capable of causing more damage, while being much harder to defend against.

In response, you need to ramp up your defenses with multiple layers of modern cybersecurity solutions. There are potentially game-changing products in development, like autonomous security services and blockchain-based data breach
protection, that deserve consideration as attack vectors evolve and these new technologies prove themselves enterprise ready.

3. Your drowning in data

Hunting for signs of an attacker on your network can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. In many cases, it takes companies months to detect a data breach.

More than ever, your security team needs the right tools to detect and investigate critical security threats. This includes security software that provides tools for hunting and performing diagnostics as well as heuristics that study patterns. New adaptive security tools that use machine learning and AI can help you find attackers, halt their intrusion or the exfiltration of data within milliseconds and prevent the next attack.

4. You don’t have an incident response plan

Incident response plans provide a set of instructions that help IT staff detect, respond to and recover from network security incidents.

Your incident response plan should address issues like cybercrime, data loss and service outages that can threaten to disrupt daily business operations at a high cost to the business. If you don’t have an incident response plan, it’s time to develop one.

5. Cybersecurity is not a C-Level imperative

The size of fines assessed for data breaches in 2019 suggest that regulators are getting more serious about punishing organizations that don’t properly protect consumer data.

With the industry calling for an Americanized version of Europe’s GDPR, businesses should be prepared for
the pace and size of fines to increase in 2020. With the cost of fines rising, security will forcefully become a mainstream issue.

If your company’s C-Level team hasn’t already taken notice of the evolving cybersecurity and regulatory landscape,
they should. C-Level leaders must be ready, willing and able to assemble and execute a sound security strategy that includes the right talent, services and technologies to defend against today’s sophisticated threat environment.

6. Your employees aren’t held accountable for cybersecurity

Human error still remains one of the greatest threats to your organization’s well-being. With just 3 in 10 employees currently receiving annual cyber security training, it’s all too easy for enterprising con artists or email scammers to  circumvent even the most cutting-edge digital safeguards.

Ninety-one percent of all company breaches come from phishing. While email security tools can provide a first line of defense against phishing, the best way to prevent a phishing breach is to treat cybersecurity as workplace culture issue, rather than an IT issue.

Formal security training programs can help teach employees how protect themselves and the company against cyberattacks but changing the attitudes and habits of your workforce can be more challenging. For this you will need to properly leverage change management models to successfully build an all-inclusive security culture.

Attackers are getting smarter, attacks are occurring faster and incidents are becoming more complex. As we move into an era of increasing connectivity, cybersecurity is a business-critical, extremely dynamic, massively scalable and highly specialized discipline. In 2020, you must be prepared to embrace AI and autonomous services, implement real-time
cybersecurity tools and encourage every person on staff to play a role in combating online threats.

As cybercriminals become more innovative, make sure your C-Level team is aware of the full financial and operational impact that a data breach can have—and be ready to present a clear cut strategy on how to manage the risk using a multi-faceted approach to cybersecurity that leverages a robust set of adaptive security measures.

Your strategy should include a range of measures— with security software, vulnerability management and employee training topping the list of ways your organization can increase its resilience against cyberattacks in the year and years ahead.

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