It’s not surprising that large financial institutions are frequent targets of cyber crime. According to the 2021 IBM/Ponemon Cost of a Data Breach Report, the financial industry was second only to healthcare, at an average cost of $5.72 million. And while the costs are greater for these large entities, small and midsize firms are not exempt, with the average cost of a breach coming in at $2.98 million for companies with a headcount of 500 or less.
Small and midsize firms are often less protected than their larger counterparts, yet still hold valuable and sensitive customer data. Which according to the same report, was both the most common, and the most costly type of record stolen. This combination makes them attractive, easy targets for hackers.
When it comes to developing a strong security posture, these firms face similar challenges to other small and midsize businesses. These include: resource constraints (both human and financial), leveraging cloud-based applications, and a lack of internal IT/security expertise or a trusted service provider to help them understand what solutions they really need, and how to implement and manage them.
Additionally, many (even pre-pandemic) have a largely distributed workforce who access their work from personal devices, using different versions of software, connecting through networks that may or may not be secure. This model makes security protocols hard to implement and enforce, especially when many of these firms lack IT staff, leaving them even more vulnerable. And without strict protocols in place, team members will often choose convenience over security.
If this applies to your business, the good news is that there are a few simple practices and tools you can leverage to help address vulnerabilities, and put you and your clients at ease when it comes to data security.
Here are 5 simple steps to protect your client data:
Use Strong Passwords
According to the IBM Report, compromised credentials were the most common attack vector in 2021. One of the best ways to combat this is to encourage your team to create strong, unique passwords (or even better, passphrases). The longer and more complex, the longer it will take to hack.
Enable Multi Factor Authentication (MFA)
MFA adds an extra layer of access protection (even if your password is compromised) by asking for at least two forms of evidence including something you know, something you have, or something you are. Most applications allow this to be enabled in the security settings but we highly recommend using a third-party authenticator app as an extra precaution.
Beware of Phishing
Second behind compromised credentials, phishing is an ever present and growing threat against businesses of all sizes. The best defense is to educate employees on what to look for. While smaller firms lack the time and resources to implement complex anti-phishing education programs throughout their organizations, it’s still important to make it a priority by sharing regular reminders like these essential tips, and to encourage team members to report any suspicious emails so others will know what to watch for.
Keep Software and Operating Systems Up-to-Date
Don’t ignore those updates. They often include critical security patches so the longer you wait to install them, the higher the risk to your organization. Make someone on your team the point person to watch for updates and send out reminders to the rest of your team.
Protect your Devices
When all else fails, your best defense against viruses such as malware and ransomware attacks is to have a good endpoint solution in place. Basic antivirus software software can scan for known viruses, while the more advanced versions leverage technologies such as machine learning and AI to monitor your system for any unusual behaviors.
To optimize your security posture, we also recommend implementing Security Implementation and Event Management (SIEM) and leveraging a Security Operations Center (SOC). These tools can help identify and remediate threats, often in real-time, and significantly reduce the likelihood or downtime and associated costs of recovery. These were formerly out of reach to SMBs but there are now automated, less expensive software-as-a-service (SaaS) versions available. We recommend working with a managed service provider (MSP) or a managed security service provider (MSSP) to decide which version is right for you.
AaDya’s all-in-one platform, powered by Judy provides 24/7, enterprise level protection and support, designed to meet the needs and budgets of small and midsize business customers. Judy, an AI and machine-learning powered cybersecurity assistant, leverages a powerful set of business and security tools including: Single Sign On, Password Management, Anti-Phishing, Endpoint Protection, Threat Detection and Automated Remediation, along with access to One-Click compliance mapping to protect your most sensitive customer and company data. Request a demo to learn more by emailing our team at firstname.lastname@example.org