Like a dog with a favorite bone, cybercriminals are fully focused on small business. In 2015, the FBI warned of a potential rise in ransomware attacks by cybercriminals. That year businesses paid out $325 million to ransomware attackers and the volume increased exponentially in 2016. It has proven to be one of the biggest money-makers for these bad actors in the history of cybercrime and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Cybercrime is positioned to be an even bigger money-maker in 2017.
Studies show healthcare, financial, higher education and other smaller organizations are most vulnerable to attacks—mostly because cybercriminals find it easier to break-in to their systems compared to larger enterprises.
According to a 2016 report from the independent research organization, Ponemon Institute, 50 percent of smaller organizations surveyed, experienced a data breach in the previous 12 months.
Healthcare is one example of an industry seeing major increases in breaches. “In the last six years of conducting this study, it’s clear that efforts to safeguard patient data are not improving,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder, of the Ponemon Institute. “New cyber threats, such as ransomware, are exacerbating the problem.
Another 2016 report by Beazley, a large provider of cyber breach insurance, showed a big jump in hacking and malware-related data breaches in banks, credit unions and higher education institutions.
Closing the door on these vulnerabilities has not been easy despite running multiple complex security systems. In fact, it is often these complex systems causing the problem. Attackers are routinely bypassing antivirus, firewall, and IPS to search out and take advantage of vulnerabilities on secondary systems or those considered low risk and left unrepaired. Once inside, they can expand their control of the network and steal valuable data without being discovered.
Vulnerability management helps find the hidden criminals.
As Ponemon, Beasley and many other studies show; personnel, budgets and technologies are insufficient for most smaller organizations to build the muscle required to fend off today’s cyber attackers. So, many smaller organizations are turning to the expertise of managed security providers to support their current IT operations.
Vulnerability management providers are not equal.
What is vulnerability management and what does quality vulnerability management looks like? In short, vulnerability management is a continuous information security risk process that requires management oversight and involvement.
Vulnerability Management includes four high level processes:
- Discovery: Voluminous and repeatable process of gathering data through vulnerability assessments.
- Reporting: Converting the raw data to usable reports on every vulnerability found.
- Prioritization: A management process that ranks the huge amount of vulnerabilities and pulls together a priority list of actions that help determine how to spend resources to fix the problems.
- Response: Determines what action to take with the prioritized vulnerabilities. Those actions fall into three basic categories.
- Remediation: Corrects the discovered flaw such as one caused by a missing patch, and ‘remediating’ by installing the patch.
- Mitigation: Reducing the risk by taking action, usually outside the affected system. For example, rather than mend a system flaw a web application firewall is installed.
- Risk Acceptance: Meaning no action is taken to remediate or mitigate. This is often due to the business impact of remediating or mitigating a known vulnerability.
Effective vulnerability management requires security expertise.
Repetitive vulnerability assessments, done by a team with the capability to track remediation and provide regular hands-on resources to their customers, is a growing option for smaller organizations.
Vulnerability management is most effective when it involves trained experts and a tested set of processes. It’s a holistic team approach designed to leverage security expertise against cybercrime, one of the largest and fastest growing threats to America’s small businesses.
Considering the potential damage to your reputation and company resources, it’s worth a conversation to see if vulnerability management can take cybercrime’s focus off your business.