What SMBs and startups need to do to make sure they’re not easy targets for cyber threats

India has the third largest startup ecosystem in the world, and industry reports suggest it will double to cross the lakh mark over the next few years. The country is also home to around 3.36 lakh of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which generate significant job creation. According to the SME Chamber of India, micro, small and medium enterprises represent 37.54% of the GDP.

India’s startups and SME network are critical to its goal of reaching the $ 5,000 billion economic goal. However, SMEs and startups are prone to several problems; the most important are the ubiquitous cyber threats.

SMEs and startups operate on a small scale with limited means, and do not have the resources to support the loss of a single day of work. However, the sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic did not allow them to prepare for the remote and hybrid work culture that followed.

They rushed through the transition to opt for mechanisms that could ensure the flow of productivity. And more often than not, they have chosen to ignore critical security precautions taken by large companies. The result has been that many organizations have become prone to cyber threats.

Cyber ​​attacks have several drawbacks. While the business suffers initial financial losses, it also loses business and reputation. On top of that, they face legal lawsuits and regulatory penalties due to the violation. Most cybercrimes result in the loss of sensitive data, which makes it relevant for authorities to take action against the organization.

Increased cases of data breaches and cyber attacks

SMEs and startups have readily embraced digital transformation over the past year and a half, as it has opened new avenues for businesses, but it has also created opportunities for cybercriminals to target their weak or non-existent cybersecurity infrastructure.

According to an industry estimate, India is now the second largest global ransomware payout in cyber attacks. The coronavirus pandemic has emerged as the biggest challenge for businesses and IT organizations in 2020.

Amid the pandemic, the volume and sophistication of cyber threats and data breaches has increased at a rapid rate and the biggest victims of these cyber threats have been SMEs and vulnerable startups.

Malicious and deliberate attacks by an individual or organization to gain unauthorized access to another network to damage, disrupt or steal computer assets, computer networks, intellectual property or any other form of sensitive data are considered cybersecurity threats.

Malware, phishing, spear phishing, man-in-the-middle attack, denial of service attacks, SQL injection, zero-day exploit, ransomware and DNS attacks are threats from common cybersecurity.

Startups and SMEs have opted for new technologies to ensure ease of operation for their staff and clients; however, they did not take the required security measures. While it may seem fashionable to go for cutting-edge technologies such as AI, Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing, these additions have added new types of cyber threats while complicating the risks. existing.

Against this background, here are some cybersecurity strategies that should be adopted by businesses to make their operations more secure and robust.

Cloud security platform

SMBs and startups need to reconfigure their IT infrastructure and processes to avoid vulnerability to cyber threats. While innovative technologies such as AI, cloud computing, and IoT are essential for continued success, companies need to be extremely careful when choosing service providers. They can opt for Cloud Content Security Platform (CCSP) which covers Email Security, Web Security, Next Generation Firewall, Endpoint Security, and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Security Services.

This comprehensive intelligent perimeter provides a streamlined infrastructure, minimizes avenues of cyber attacks, reduces complexity, and improves intrusion detection by firewalls supporting multiple applications. It also lowers operating costs and standardizes the enterprise security platform.

Zero Confidence Approach

Remote and hybrid working has become a reality in the new normal. Employees in all industries are accessing the organization’s network through their own devices, which has resulted in an exponential increase in cybersecurity risks.

As the cloud becomes central to all transformation technologies, SMBs must adopt a zero-trust approach that only allows verified and trusted devices to be connected to the corporate network. With a large number of endpoints, organizations need to establish access control for two critical starting points: remote applications and web access.

This approach allows all internal systems, endpoints, and applications to act as an additional layer of protection to prevent attackers from entering corporate infrastructure in the cloud or on-premises.

Employee training for cybersecurity awareness

SMEs and startups primarily become a target of cyber attacks due to employee negligence. Employees do not have the proper training to understand the consequences of their actions and are often not careful when handling sensitive data and information. Most often, data breaches occur when employees leave their workstations unattended or use insecure or public network systems.

Therefore, companies need to adopt best practices to train their workforce digitally and make processes more stringent to keep organizational data secure. They should be warned about the consequences of cyber neglect and made aware of the importance of password security, preventive actions against various attack vectors, and reporting them in real time to their IT teams.

Regular software updates

Software updates contain important security fixes that can play a crucial role in data security. Using random words, a mixture of lowercase and uppercase and alphanumeric passwords can be helpful.

Such passwords are difficult to crack and can protect the system against hacking attempts. Organizations can use password generators or create a policy on configuring passwords. Suspicious or fraudulent emails should be deleted immediately, as they may contain attachments and hyperlinks.

Unsolicited emails often contain files loaded with malware or prompt the user to open sites that run malicious scripts on the computer. SMBs should never settle for free or lite versions and should always use trusted professional services for added security.

SMBs need to create a strong defense mechanism and implement an impenetrable identity for vital digital infrastructure to ensure smoother and more secure operation.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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