The SMB’s guide to cyber resilience

Cyber resilience vs. cybersecurity: What’s the difference ⁠— and why does it matter?

Cybersecurity is a subject on the minds of many business owners these days. Stories of serious customer data breaches are becoming almost routine.

The seeming ease with which hackers can access private networks and wreak havoc is disturbing. And unfortunately, as each successful cyberattack demonstrates, no one's data is fully secure. For example, the Associated Press recently published a study indicating that the public's confidence in a safe internet is eroding.

Business owners in particular, especially SMBs, must do everything possible to protect the customers who entrust them with their private data. 

Threats are becoming so numerous and fluid that what is needed to combat cybercrime is not yet another thing for SMBs to do. Rather, it's a state of being to achieve: cyber resiliency.

What is cyber resiliency?

An organization that is cyber resilient has evaluated the threat landscape and concluded that its response must go beyond mere defense and survival. Achieving cyber resilience means a company strives to implement all necessary cybersecurity measures and:

  • Instills in team members the importance of their roles in combating cyberattacks
  • Commits to investment and the realignment of company values to include a core component of cybersecurity
  • Automates repetitive cybersecurity tasks, such as data backups
  • Continuously improves internal cybersecurity processes and systems
  • Engages with the cybersecurity community-at-large to learn and share attack trends and strategies
  • Explores outsourcing opportunities with MSPs or the IT professional community to relieve small business owners and staff of the stress of managing a cybersecurity program 

Cyber resilience embodies a mindset shift that moves cybersecurity not just to the forefront of an organization but also to a position that’s central to its operation.

Cyber resilience explained

It can be challenging to define cyber resilience without confusing it with cybersecurity. The two are related intimately, but they are not the same.

Cybersecurity as part of cyber resiliency

Cybersecurity resembles digitally building walls, locking gates, and issuing keys only to authorized individuals. Cyber resilience, on the other hand, leaves tangible security measures like firewalls, passwords, and admin roles in place, but adds a belief system that broadens the perspective from which organizations view security.

SMBs and organizations that have started on the path to cyber resiliency begin thinking about leveraging every available tool and tactic to help uncover and thwart cybercriminals. As a result, owners and staff of these organizations no longer view cybersecurity as an unpleasant yet necessary chore. Instead, achieving cyber resilience requires cultivating a desire to practice diligence and good cyber hygiene, not because they are part of company policy, but because they are the right things to do.

Cybersecurity essentials for small businesses

With such an intimidating cyber threat landscape, it is tempting for many small business owners to adopt a defeatist attitude toward cybersecurity. The scope and sheer mass of cybercrime make it appear unstoppable. Additionally, cybersecurity initiatives can often appear as insatiable "money pits" that never provide a guarantee of safety.

Realistically, however, there are reasons for optimism. While perfection is impossible, businesses can attain a healthier level of cybersecurity by implementing a comprehensive program of common-sense procedures.

Cybersecurity basics

Aside from traditional rule-based, hardware-driven protection, modern business security relies heavily on human defenders. 

The first step for SMBs that want to reach at least a minimal level of cybersecurity is to commit to some baseline standards.

Keep software updated

Many attacks exploit outdated software that contains vulnerable code known by hackers. However, performing regular and timely updates to software, and applying released patches to operating systems can thwart many attacks before they begin.

Promote employee security training

Awareness kills most social engineering attempts. Business owners should cultivate a culture of mindfulness surrounding the tactics used by attackers to trick their way into networks. Keeping up with the latest schemes helps everyone in an organization keep up their guard and stay focused on the threat landscape.

Invest in cybersecurity tools to streamline cybersecurity management

Cybersecurity tends to suffer when owners and staff are too busy to maintain thorough programs. Fortunately, SMBs do not have to rely on IT staff to handle coordinating cybersecurity defenses. With the Avast Business Hub, a cloud-based security platform, businesses can easily and centrally manage their Avast security solutions, and secure their devices, applications, data, and networks — eliminating the need for dedicated IT staff or external support. 

Foundations of cyber resilience

Moving from a cybersecurity-alone perspective to one that incorporates the need for cyber resilience does not happen overnight. However, companies can improve their stance immediately by taking positive action in several critical areas.

Emphasize training: SMBs can help initiate cyber resiliency by changing how they view cybersecurity training. For example, owners cannot afford to adopt an attitude of "train once and forget" regarding cybersecurity. Instead, owners should explain to employees that exploring the topics of cybersecurity is an integral part of their job, not an add-on learning activity. In addition, training should advance to the level of practicing live cyberattack drills and include extensive role-playing scenarios to keep social engineering defenses sharp.

Establish exhaustive cybersecurity response procedures: Cyber resilience aims to take the negative reality of never-ending cyberattacks and use them to learn how to respond. To accomplish this, companies should work with cybersecurity experts to establish daily practices and response plans before an attack. In addition, attaining cyber resilience requires companies to become adept at seamlessly working with specialized third-party vendors, while garnering meaningful information about how best to defend their companies from cyberattacks.

Watch what your partners are doing: In a connected world, no one is isolated. Suppliers, vendors, third-party business services, and anyone with access to your network can act as an easy conduit for cybercriminals to pass through. Build relationships by sharing what you are doing with your partners and expect their participation in protecting the security of all involved stakeholders. 

Cyber resilience: Next steps

One of the biggest challenges for SMBs is finding the time to stay informed about the latest attacks and how to prevent them. Unfortunately, most small business owners lack the resources to hire IT staff, so it often falls on individuals to do the work that’s typically reserved for teams of trained cybersecurity experts.

Avast is a leader in cybersecurity, delivering tailored solutions to fit the growing needs of SMBs. The cloud-based management platform allows owners to set up device protection, manage subscriptions, and add devices, anytime, anywhere. In addition, Avast's award-winning antivirus protects against malware, phishing, ransomware, and other cyberattacks, and secures personal, business, and customer data from theft.

Moving from baseline cybersecurity to a place of cyber resilience is a significant shift for small businesses. Avast delivers cybersecurity that’s simple, powerful, and affordable — a great fit for these organizations looking for protection that keeps them safe, yet allows them to remain efficient with their time, especially if they do not have dedicated IT resources. Furthermore, Avast offers free 30-day trials so that businesses can try our security solutions before buying.

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