Cloud-related cyber threats pose a tremendous risk to small businesses. The total cost of cybercrime in 2023 is forecasted to reach $8 trillion, and as organizations scramble to move their data to the cloud for additional security, they’re coming to terms with the unfortunate truth that bad actors are growing more sophisticated by the day. Attacks targeting cloud systems nearly doubled in 2022, and that’s only projected to get worse.
This should be of particular concern for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Cybersecurity talent is increasingly expensive and difficult to come by these days. SMBs don’t always have the resources to hire a team of cyber experts, which makes them an easy target for cyberattacks: small businesses are three times more likely to be targeted by cybercriminals than larger enterprises.
As our economic downturn persists, SMBs simply do not have the additional budget to invest in robust cloud cybersecurity strategies. What, then, do SMB leaders need to know about threats to the cloud, and how can they ensure they’re protecting themselves and their data against costly hacks?
Bootstrapping your cybersecurity strategy
As an SMB leader, you can’t wear every hat. But without full-time IT staff on board, the responsibility of developing a strong cyber defense strategy may fall on your shoulders. Believe it or not, designing and implementing a strong security posture doesn’t have to be expensive – but it is crucial to work with experts to familiarize yourself with potential risks and ensure you’re investing your dollars wisely.
Enter: the virtual Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). Outsourcing your cybersecurity leadership can prove to be a competitive differentiator and protect your business (and budget) from omnipresent threats. A virtual CISO works to understand your business, goals, and risk tolerance to design a security posture tailored to your unique needs. They’ll then provide the full knowledge of a full-time CISO – without the full-time costs.
An important caveat here: investing in a virtual CISO won’t be the right move for every business. Enterprises that deal with copious amounts of customer data, for example, may need a more robust security department on staff to adequately manage it. But for SMBs, there are a number of cases wherein a virtual CISO is the right fit, including:
- Your business lacks senior IT security management
- Your business is undergoing a cloud transformation and you need expertise
- Your existing cybersecurity team is overloaded
- Your business is facing regulatory audits and you’re uncertain of your posture
Here are just some of the services a virtual CISO can provide your business.
Conduct a risk assessment
Companies that have recently undergone a cloud transformation need to regularly assess both existing and imminent risks. During a formal security and cloud risk assessment, a virtual CISO will examine your essential security settings, general controls, cyber policies and procedures, and measure against industry best practices. The whole process should take between four and six weeks.
They’ll also identify governance requirements your business must comply with and determine your organization’s overall security awareness. Cybersecurity regulations are constantly changing, both nationally and around the globe, which makes manually keeping up with them a Sisyphean feat. A risk assessment will reveal whether you’ve fallen out of compliance with any legal or regulatory requirements and outline a path to rectification.
After your risk assessment, the virtual CISO will inform you of any issues that need your attention and provide you with a roadmap to your ideal security posture. If they surface any shortcomings, they’ll recommend a course of action to ensure you’re mitigating potential risks. The right partner will even prioritize the severity of any issues so you can determine which to address first.
Tighten your security posture
When your business undergoes a cloud transformation, the process will likely involve adopting new systems like SaaS apps and collaboration tools. These can prove incredibly useful to your workforce, but they may also represent an expanding attack surface for hackers.
In 2022, Deloitte partnered with the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) to conduct the 2022 Cybersecurity Study. The report found that more than half (52%) of respondents cited legacy infrastructure and outdated solutions as the primary barrier preventing them from addressing cybersecurity challenges. That means if you’re switching to the cloud, your legacy, on-premises solutions won’t be able to secure any modern cloud infrastructure, thus leaving your shiny new systems vulnerable to bad actors.
If on-prem solutions are holding you back, it’s well past time to tighten up your security posture. Partnering with a virtual CISO can supplement your cloud transformation efforts to make certain that your risk posture is aligned to your needs as you modernize.
Choosing the right virtual CISO
While there are a multitude of security outsourcing options available, it’s crucial you know what to look for when choosing the right partner. SMBs need a head of cybersecurity strategy who can:
- Build a picture of your risk landscape
- Partner with your management team
- Develop a strategic cybersecurity plan
- Provide a roadmap to mitigate risks
- Train your employees on cybersecurity best practices and put guardrails in place
You don’t need to become a cyber expert to keep your business – and your customers – safe from cloud-related threats. Investing in a virtual CISO will prove a strategic advantage to SMBs looking to bolster their security efforts on a budget.