Impact of a Cybersecurity Incident on a SMB

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) don’t have the luxury of making cybersecurity a priority at the same rate as larger businesses.  Many may use their limited budgets as an excuse not to put as much into their network security and incident response plans, as they should.  Research has shown that this is a mistake.  The residual effects of a cyberattack can leave an SMB in shambles according to the National Cyber Security Alliance. Sixty percent of small businesses are forced to close their doors less than six months after a breach.

More and more SMBs are being targeted by hackers leading 58% of SMB executives to fear the possibility of a breach more than floods, fires, transit strikes or even a physical office break-in.  Thankfully, having a comprehensive incident response plan can help prepare SMBs recover lost files and information, while laying out a plan on how to resume business after a cybercrime.  Let’s review the process of creating and testing your incident response plan in-house or via an experienced 3rd Party cybersecurity firm.

Creating a Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan is Key

Most companies tend to spend their cybersecurity budget on detection and recovery which together, make up 55% of total internal security spending.  Unfortunately, SMBs require solutions that may be a bit more holistic as part of a proactive cyber defense strategy.  A comprehensive incident response plan must include isolation of an infected computer, contacting law enforcement, collecting forensic evidence with a chain of custody process, security important files that may still exist, safeguarding backup systems, changing account passwords, or even calling in a forensics expert to examine what went wrong.

The cost associated with a cyberattack is increasing to the point where just a single event can cost an SMB between $84,000 and $148,000.  Globally, this figure represents a cost increase of over 27% since last year.  In 2017 alone, 72% of hacked businesses spent more than $5,000 to investigate cyberattacks, in addition to restoration or replacing damaged software and hardware.  Creating an incident response plan and practicing it during normal business operations ensures that your SMB knows what to do if you become a victim.

Put your Incident Response Plan to the Test

Unfortunately, planning to prevent a cyber-attack can be an impossible pursuit.  But that isn’t the purpose of an incident response plan.  Instead, your incident response plan should demonstrate how your SMB will respond to a breach or attack, and ultimately how it will contain the security threat.  These plans should include the necessary steps for how your organization will respond and ensure business continuity.  Having the plan ready will allow your SMB to stay nimble and act quickly to remedy breach situations, giving you an advantage in reducing risks and potential damages that may ensue.

According to Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report, small businesses account for 58% of malware attack victims. So it’s not enough to simply implement an incident response plan; you have to nurture, test, and update it.  This process of nurturing is typically done via a series of simulated attacks on your system to test its rigor in the face of the threat of hackers.  From these important tests, your organization can learn lessons that will have real, lasting value.  Through testing, you’ll be able to identify opportunities to expedite remediation efforts and keep your organization focused on the highest value tasks to return to normal business operations. And by repeating this review, over time your plan will become refined, gain adoption, and become familiar with everyone required to participate.

Outsourcing your SMB’s Cybersecurity Efforts

Even SMBs with outstanding technical talent have difficulty filling their security jobs in-house. Due to the high demand, cybersecurity professionals command high salaries and they can be difficult to retain once hired.  By hiring an external team to help document, test, and refine your IR Plan, will allow your organization to tap into their expertise, bringing added experience to your in-house team. The outsourcing trend will continue to grow, as the talent shortage increases. According to the General Services Administration, 70% of surveyed companies are planning to outsource more, with 35% of them planning to do so significantly.

SMB leaders are becoming increasingly comfortable in seeking external cybersecurity partners and experts to help get ahead of network compromises by developing strong processes, procedures, and documentation. This type of valuable insight, feedback, and planning is important in helping your organization identify potential flaws in your incident response plan. Businesses will have to rise above the haze of cyberattacks that can leave a stain on customer experience, if they’ve provided sensitive data that has the potential of becoming compromised. SMB’s must practice due diligence in protecting their client data, which ultimately brings value to your organization and it’s services.

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