Data breaches are a common headline maker nowadays. Big names across industries are surprisingly involved in incidents of hacks and security compromises: Yahoo!. Sage, Apple and the IRS are only some of the many data breaches recorded in 2016.
With the proliferation of technology solutions for small and medium-sized businesses (SMB), these small players are not spared from threats of hacks and data breaches. Now, it is proven that businesses, big or small, all face the same threat to their information security. But one thing that they should regularly do is to assess the security risk they have with the technologies, personnel and policies they have.
Why SMBs Should Perform a Security Risk Assessment
Proactively addressing the information security is an essential and obligatory role of every organization. Regulatory requirements for the protection of confidential and personal data as well as SLA requirements both push every organization to meet the minimum information security requisite to operate. While Risk assessment can vary in scope and method the main purpose for which it is undertaken does not vary, that is, to identify risks and hazard, and thereby prevent any information security problems.
5 Guiding Principles in Performing a Security Risk Assessment
As an integral process to secure the organization’s information assets, there should be well defined rationales or principles to guide the method and scope of the assessment. Here are 5
- Productivity. In the long run, risk assessment boosts productivity of IT operations, security and audit by means of formalizing and structuring the review, and implementing self-analysis features.
- Self-Analysis. When implementing a risk assessment, organizations should remember that it should be simple enough to use by even those who know not about information security or IT expertise. It makes security more accommodating to anybody in an organization and helps to integrate security into the organization’s culture.
- Breaking Barriers. Risk Assessment is addressed by both the organizational management as well as the IT staff in order to make it an effective procedure.
- Communication. As this procedure enjoins multiple parts of the organization, open communication is promoted so decision making is hastened.
- Cost Justification. To achieve an effective security risk assessment, the key business managers should be educated about the most critical risks with the use of technology and should be provided with a strong justification for such security investment.
Most Common SMB Security Threats
A well secured IT could be the least concern of most small and medium-sized businesses, for the reason that owners are not enough educated about the risk of neglecting information security and the hefty price it can incur when risks escalate. As a primer, here are the most common failures of SMBs that put their business at risk:
Poor Password Hygiene. Even in the advent of multi-factor Authentication, business owners and employees still fail to keep passwords a top secret. Not to mention, easy-to-guess passwords are still fairly common.
Unrestricted Access Control. Organization’s Data and information should not be available for everyone’s disposal. Access control should be restricted. This, however, is something that many SMBs are likely to overlook.
Outdated Security Software. Meager investment to information security is at the heart of every outdated security software. If even large companies sometimes fail on this, small to medium sized businesses are not spared to fail in allotting money to secure information system.
These are obvious vulnerabilities that can be practically solved with a sound security practice. In the following section, the essential tasks that have to be including in every Security Risk Assessment are discussed.
10 Essential Tasks to Include During Security Risk Assessment
- Look for known external vulnerabilities and audit the firewall configuration
First off, a firewall should be in place. The Bangladesh Central Bank lost about $81 million, and one of the reason behind such vulnerability is the lack of firewall protection. Inbound and outbound firewall configuration should be reviewed or evaluated to eliminate unwanted traffic and leak of confidential information.
- Evaluate the patch management tool in place
It is important to ensure that the patch management tool works effectively and in a timely manner especially for systems needing security patches.
- Review Antivirus Software currently used
This is important to determine whether or not the antivirus works properly or needs update or repair.
- Conduct Administrator and Permission Review
Administrative privileges should be evaluated so that the list of users provided with such permission or privileges are carefully kept under watch.
- Perform a Walk-through security inspection
This checks common practices among employees that can risk information security like flash drives available anywhere and passwords written on post-its.
- Run both external and internal vulnerability scan
Both internal and external vulnerability scan are important to check every possible zero-day vulnerability. Internal vulnerability scan identifies risks and threats inside the business network while the external vulnerability scan identifies holes in your network from outside threat.
- Identify suspicious log-in or login attempts.
Review log-in history so you can be ahead of the curve on the status of your network. This should signal whether a rogue employee or external attacker have tried to attack your system.
- Review the current Security Policy
You should ensure that the security policies governing your organization are all consistent with every provision, and compliant to existing best practices.
- Identify possible defunct or rogue users and systems
Internal threats are also to be identified. Do this by reviewing access control, computers, and network switch details.
- Meet the Minimum Basic Requirement.
HIPAA, PCI and ISO 27001 are only some of the compliances that certify your network is secured. Meet these requirements and you’re sure ready to do your business with least worry.
How Network Operations Center (NOC) Can Help
Growing your business entails larger confidential and personal information that require hiring new IT management staff, technicians and deploying more tools and technology. Adding more personnel and services incur extra cost and add more risk in security.
But you can cut off hiring and deploying new services with a formidable network operations center ready to protect you from threats. INOC provides end-to-end security solutions for network. We respond accordingly with the level of service that your organization needs. You can choose the service-level agreement that suits your budget and need.
Micah de Jesus is a Digital Marketing Professional. She works as the Managing Director of GrowthScout SEO Services, an SEO & digital marketing firm in Quezon City, Philippines. She has a knack for making travel itineraries, writing about network operations center and perfumes.