Why small businesses need to keep an eye on their networks

Here's how small businesses with limited IT resources and security funding can effectively stand up to hackers’ threats.

If you’re a small business and you think that cyber attacks won’t affect you, then think again. Some studies even find that 43 per cent of all cyber attacks target small businesses, because they know that they are ‘easier’ targets. That said, how can small businesses with limited IT resources and security funding effectively stand up to hackers’ threats? It all starts with visibility.

Know your network

Understanding your organisation’s exposure to digital business risks and cyber threats begins by gaining visibility into what is connected to the network, where it is connecting from and when it is connecting. This includes hardware, such as servers, software and applications used by employees to optimise their workflows, and endpoints, such as smartphones, tablets, laptop and desktop computers. The latter, referred to as ‘Bring Your Own Device’ or BYOD, is one of the biggest security risks for small businesses because they usually have relaxed personal technology policies, in a desire to make employees happy and save money on equipment. For this reason, understanding the lay of the land when it comes to your network is essential because, unbeknownst to you, your favourite employee could be using vulnerable applications on their personal device that they also connect to the corporate wireless network. In order to keep things professional and your network security in control, it’s a good idea to deploy a network access control solution that can provide visibility across wired, wireless and virtual networks and all relevant endpoints, including BYOD and Internet of Things devices.

Make risk-based access decisions

Once you feel like you know your network (on a very personal level), it’s time to start using the information you have gathered to create the best security policies for your organisation. It helps to ask yourself a few questions – Do employees work often from home? Are there are a lot of guests and contractors accessing the network? What are the most important resources to protect to prevent data loss? These are only a few examples, but you should really see this stage as an opportunity to bridge the data that you’ve collected on underlying network vulnerabilities with the realities of your organisational structure and flow. Using these insights, it’s possible to deploy an access control solution that will enforce security policies as essential conditions for granting access to the network and its resources. This can be done in a way that does not inhibit regular workflows and keeps your foot down when it comes to security and access policies.

Leave room for growth

Most small businesses prefer solutions that they can grow with as their organisation expands. Network visibility solutions are exactly such a solution and indeed they are a piece of the security puzzle that many small businesses usually leave out. That’s because they can incur high costs, but as this article has attempted to show, those expenses are worth every penny. If a small business doesn’t want to remain small, it needs a spotless security record, which is why it’s worth the investment. In addition, visibility and control over access to the network will help instate strong organisational behaviour policies that, with enough nurturing, could help prevent attacks in the future – once the company has grown. In the meantime, however, visibility solutions will keep small business’s network security in check to fend off the growing number of cyber threats directed at small businesses.

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

Related Topics

Cyber Attacks

Leave a comment