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Cybersecurity for SMBs: Navigating Risk and Optimizing Investment | A Getting Started Guide (1/3)

Many small and medium businesses (SMBs) fall victim to a common misconception: they assume all cyber security solutions will keep them safe. However, unlike large corporations, SMBs require unique approaches to protecting their specific data and assets. For example, a huge challenge is the sheer amount of funds SMBs lack to invest in an overall security strategy.


This guide will provide you with some actionable steps to understand the value of your IT infrastructure before you decide to invest in security.


Ditch the “it won’t happen to me” mentality. We’ll shed light on the potential consequences of data exposure, helping you make informed decisions about your cybersecurity strategy.


First Things First: Understanding Your Technology Landscape


Often neglected in assessing your own environment is a comprehensive understanding of the technology you aim to secure. Implementing any solutions without a clear picture of your specific tech ecosystem remains ineffective.


Firstly, conduct a detailed mapping or catalogue of your everyday technology infrastructure, including computers, networks, mobile devices (including personal devices accessing company information), applications, and your infrastructure communication with partners.


Next, Use the established CIA triad framework (confidentiality, integrity, and availability) to measure the potential impact of a breach or vulnerability on these assets (rank them from low - high).


In Summary:


  • Prioritize critical information systems: Identifying and evaluating the systems your business relies on most.

  • CIA Triad: Election Security Spotlight–CIA Triad (cisecurity.org)


Prioritizing Risk and Investment

Your business and its operations will influence your risk tolerance (yes, I said risk. Risk isn’t only for large-scale corporations - it’s for you too). Risk & threat level assessments help you determine one of the most crucial parts of this journey - your investment comfort level.


Remember, absolute security is a myth. There will be “holes” in your strategy (and that’s okay). It’s about securing your most important assets and investing in the proper tools to do so.


Armed with a clear inventory of your assets and their associated risk levels, informed decision-making becomes possible before committing to any technology purchases or integrations.


Throwing sizeable sums of money at cybersecurity doesn’t guarantee absolute protection.


Instead, prioritize targeted and intentional integrations of specific technologies. Avoid the temptation to invest in solutions you might not need just yet, but acknowledge that your investment can and should adapt.


Leveraging External Expertise for Smaller Teams


For businesses lacking internal IT teams, partnering with experienced cyber security professionals can be extremely beneficial. We help answer the critical questions outlined above before proposing specific exercises or technology implementations.


Understanding your unique operational scope is paramount before considering integrations or solutions like:

  • Incident Response(IR): Developing an effective plan in incident response to manage and mitigate security incidents.

  • System patching: Implementing automated and consistent patching procedures to stay ahead of vulnerabilities.

  • Mobile Security: Secure your mobile devices and data by taking proactive steps against potential threats.

  • Network security: Establishing robust network protections to prevent unauthorized access and malicious activity.

  • Data encryption: Securing sensitive data both at rest and in transit.

  • Website security: Ensuring the integrity and protection of your company’s online presence.


Consequences Of Data Exposure

10% of Canadian businesses do not spend time or money on cyber security measures and/or related skills training and 7% of Canadian businesses do not know if they even have any cyber security [1] . That’s over 200,000 businesses who you, your customers and partners interact daily with that don’t have or are unaware of the exposure to their IT environments.


Here’s a few of the consequences of not focusing on investing in these tools:

  • Reputation: A cyber incident can damage your company's reputation.

  • Information: The personal information of employees, suppliers, customers and partners is at risk.

  • Operations: The continuity of business operations comes to a halt, causing financial problems and downtime.

Securing your business in today’s digital landscape is paramount more than ever. Cyber attacks are on the rise and don’t plan on stopping soon.

In the next chapter of this blog, I will go into more detail on how you can move forward, looking at specific (and important) controls and helping you prioritize the IT elements that matter most to your business operations.


[1] Statistics Canada. Table 22-10-0056-01  “Main reasons enterprises spend time or money on cyber security by industry and size of enterprise”


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