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5 Important Cybersecurity Lessons Learned In 2021

2021 saw a lot of challenges throughout the cybersecurity industry. Many big breaches, from the SolarWinds breach to the pipeline breach, made the news, due in part to the fact that they caused immense inconvenience and/or worry for the average citizen. Smaller businesses saw higher recorded levels of breaches than ever before.

While those challenges have certainly shaken the industry, they have also brought with them a number of lessons that the average business can learn moving forward into 2021 and beyond.

1. Cybersecurity is essential for every business.

It’s no longer a question of “if” a business will suffer a cyberattack. Instead, modern business owners must be braced for “when” that attack will occur.

Nearly half of small businesses suffered a cyberattack within the last year. Many suffered more than one. With cyberattacks on the rise, you must assume that at some point, your business will be attacked or even breached. No cybersecurity protection is perfect. What matters is the plan you have in place for responding to and dealing with those attacks–ideally, a plan that keeps your business as functional as possible even in the event of ransomware or loss of access to your system, that warns and protects your clients and connections as quickly as possible, and that keeps you moving forward.

2. Communication and information-sharing helps protect businesses both large and small.

The cybersecurity community is an essential part of the lawyer of protections wrapped around small businesses across the United States. Free and open communication within the cybersecurity community can help cybersecurity specialists react quickly in the event of a new attack or breach and protect many of the businesses they help cover.

It’s also critical to ensure that those information sources are verified and vetted. Ideally, you want to make sure that you’re getting comprehensive, actionable information from trusted sources. Members of the cybersecurity community who come together on a regular basis trust in each other’s expertise and have learned how to work together in order to broaden their knowledge base.

For business owners, understanding the importance of cybersecurity and the need for free communication means making that possible for their cybersecurity teams. You may want to work with an MSSP that already has strong connections within the cybersecurity field, or you may want to ensure that your internal team members have the means to make those connections through conferences, training, and events–both virtual and in person.

3. Compliance isn’t enough.

In May, the Biden administration firmly recognized the importance of enhancing cybersecurity with an executive order designed to encourage a higher degree of security, not just for federal organizations, but for businesses across the nation. The order fully acknowledges that current industry standards are not growing fast enough to recognize the latest threats impacting businesses and federal organizations alike.

For many years, businesses, particularly small businesses, have maintained only basic cybersecurity standards by focusing primarily on the basic regulations that they had to meet: making sure they kept up with HIPAA requirements or maintained PCI compliance, for example. Modern cybersecurity threats, however, involve a full awareness of modern cybersecurity procedures and everything that goes along with them. Compliance alone will not help protect businesses. Instead, they may need to take action to institute more robust protections, going above and beyond those basic compliance standards to help protect their businesses, their clients, and their connections.

4. Cybersecurity insurance can help provide a vital layer of protection.

An estimated half of small businesses that suffer a cyberattack end up shutting their doors within six months of the attack. Cyberattacks are expensive. Not only does the business have the immediate cost of the direct attack, which could include installing new systems, implementing new solutions, or hiring cybersecurity professionals to close the gap, the business may face the cost of lost customers, restitution to existing customers, and a host of other expenses associated with the impact of the attack. Customers can logically recognize that a business has done everything in its power to prevent a potential breach, but still feel nervous about doing business with that company in the future.

Cybersecurity insurance cannot alleviate the cost of lost customers, but it can provide some financial assistance with many of the immediate costs of dealing with a cyberattack. Many businesses can use that cybersecurity insurance to help them survive following a serious threat or breach.

5. Using the right security provider is critical.

Many managed service providers, noting the cybersecurity talent shortage and the increased need for security measures, have chosen to add cybersecurity to their offerings. Unfortunately, those MSPs may not have the skills or tools they need to offer truly robust cybersecurity protections. Often, they do not have the tools and solutions that their clients really need–or they may not have the staff they need to keep that security running smoothly.

When you contract with a managed security services provider, check the provider’s credentials and experience. Make sure that they have the tools and staff on hand to genuinely implement higher levels of security across your business. The more experience the provider has, the more confident you can feel about the protections put in place for your business. It’s also important that you find a security provider who has experience with the size and type of business that you have: someone who can keep an eye on potential threats and help you address them before they lead to serious problems for your business.

The lessons learned throughout 2021 have started to change the shape of cybersecurity–in many cases, permanently. The need for effective cybersecurity has grown higher than ever for many businesses–and preparing for a breach is essential. If you need a provider who can help you manage your cybersecurity needs and provide a robust level of protection for your business, contact us today to learn more about our services and how they can help protect your business–and make it easier for you to respond swiftly in the event of a threat or breach.