Whether you’re a small business with a handful of employees or a large, global enterprise, businesses of all sizes are experiencing increased pressure on their security posture. According to Accenture’s “State of Cybersecurity Resilience 2021” report, cybersecurity attacks have increased 31% from 2020 to 2021. Cyber-attacks continue to remain rampant and that likely won’t change as we move forward. Couple the increase in attacks with the growing cybersecurity manpower shortage and talent gap, and it makes maintaining security more difficult than ever before; especially, for small IT organizations. Whether you’re understaffed, under-resourced, or otherwise disadvantaged, small IT teams need to be extra vigilant to protect their organizations. The following are five tips to help small IT teams maximize their performance.
1. Conduct a Thorough Risk Assessment
Understanding your level of risk is the first step of prevention. When you have finite personnel and resources, you want to ensure that the time, money, and effort will make the largest impact to your risk profile as possible. To ensure that you don’t allocate scarce resources to things that don’t impact your risk, a thorough risk assessment is needed. This can also inform the executive team of areas of risk that need their endorsement to remediate. You can learn more about cyber risk assessment in a video here.
2. Empower the Executive Team to Make Informed Decisions
When your IT team is small, support from outside IT is paramount. Buy-in from the executive team is vital because it demonstrates to every member of the organization that security is a priority. To gain buy-in from the executive team help them understand the risk profile of your specific organization and recognize the difference between nation-state sponsored threats and typical cyber criminals. Also, direct them to CISA guidance for Corporate Leaders and CEOs or the guidance from the governing agency in your locale. Informing the executive team to empower them to make sound decisions is key in protecting the organization as a small IT team.
3. Minimize Your Attack Surface
Small teams become stretched thin very quickly. They can’t afford to have a large attack surface; they need to run a tight ship. To minimize your attack surface that is commonly exploited by nation-state cyber threats, we recommend adhering to various compliance frameworks such as PCI-DSS, ISO 27001, and NIST 800-53 and ensuring you are continuously in compliance between audits. Secure your remote access and validate that all remote access to the organization’s network and privileged or administrative access requires multi-factor authentication. Practicing good patch management by ensuring that software is up to date and regularly patched. Establish a channel to triage and prioritize patches for critical systems or address serious vulnerabilities. Disable all ports and protocols not essential for business purposes. Scan for forgotten open ports and close immediately.
4. Use Employees as a Force Multiplier
In a small team, it is impossible for the IT and security to do the work alone. Security is everyone’s responsibility. To empower employees proper training and procedures need to be established. In light of nation-state threats, consider lowering thresholds for reporting cyber incidents and positively reinforce employees reporting suspicious emails, text messages, or other potential attacks. Conduct regular security awareness training and phishing exercises. Make every employee an extension of the security team.
5. Evaluate Managed Services and Managed Security Services Provider Relationships
Establishing a relationship with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) or a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) is a great way to “outsource” time consuming tasks to vendor partners to free up internal IT headcount to focus on important initiatives. Often this lowers the barrier to entry to enterprise-grade capabilities and technology for smaller teams and organizations. Look for MSPs and MSSPs that act as partners and operate in manner that they feel like and extension of your own team. It is also important to consider the full spectrum of capabilities they offer. It is often less expensive and easier to manage a small number of relationships than finding a specialized vendor for each function. The right MSPs and MSSPs can quickly make a small team feel large in capability.
The threat landscape for businesses of all sizes has never been more challenging and each business is unique as the threats they face. This is why it is important to discuss your strategy with a trusted partner. VikingCloud is a complete MSSP offering a full range of managed security, testing, compliance, and technology solutions and can help you to formulate the best defense to mitigate the risks specific to your business.
Contact us here to request a complimentary consultation with a specialist for your security project.