September 26, 2023


Supportive Business Potential

How Small Businesses Can Assess and Mitigate Their Cloud Security Risk

How Small Businesses Can Assess and Mitigate Their Cloud Security Risk

With the rapid growth of Cloud solutions, cyber hackers can target an expanding user base for data and financial theft. Small businesses now face similar security risks as enterprises with more resources to address those risks. 55% of small and medium-sized businesses have experienced a data breach or a cyber attack. Today, 43% of spear phishing attacks are targeted at small and medium-sized businesses. The data shows that 60% of companies that are victims of cyber attacks are severely affected financially.

Cyber hackers always look for the weakest link in their target’s infrastructure. The Cloud and cloud-based software enables us to share information seamlessly and globally, but this interdependence creates multiple vulnerabilities. Governments and industry organizations have attempted to address the cyber threats to data and personally identifiable information (PII) by developing regulations, levying fines for noncompliance, and establishing best practices for protecting data against cyber threats. Global connectivity requires small businesses to understand the best Cloud technology to use, its security weaknesses, and the compliance regulations they must comply with.

For a small business, the legal fines from state and federal governments can be a death sentence and bankrupt the company. Some small businesses cannot function after an attack that results in the loss of electronically protected health information (ePHI) or other sensitive data. Unlike large companies, small and medium-sized businesses have fewer resources to respond effectively to data breaches. A company that suffers a data breach can permanently damage its reputation in the eyes of customers and prospects, no matter how good its products and services are.

Above, we have painted a grim and dire picture for small businesses adopting Cloud technologies. Our main contention in this article is that security and privacy should not be and is not that complicated. Does that mean you do not need to budget and invest in cybersecurity? No, that is not the case. You can better allocate your cybersecurity budget by better understanding your cyber risk. So how do we determine cloud risk for small businesses? Employ a data-centric approach to security. Some simple steps to protect your Cloud infrastructure are:
1. Identify your data flows and document business use cases that you think may create a risk.
2. Inventory and document the locations of all of your sensitive data.
3. Inventory and document your technology environment (hardware, software, devices).
4. Review and centralize all contracts with vendors and support organizations.
5. Understand compliance requirements, risks, and the costs for non-compliance.
6. Document and develop defensible controls based on standards like NIST, ISO, COBIT, CAIQ, VSA, etc.
7. Educate your employees about your data security, and risk policies. Conduct ongoing cyber awareness training and phishing simulation as new risks emerge.
8. Review the cybersecurity-related services and solutions in the cloud and make decisions based on the business use cases and sensitive data
9. Manage and monitor access to sensitive data in the cloud
10. Develop strong business continuity and disaster. recovery processes in the cloud by using services offered.
11. Incident response is a key aspect of managing risk and responding to events in the cloud/ hybrid environment.

The key to developing good cyber security policies and processes is to use the checklist above to prioritize how and where you focus on cybersecurity risk. Grade your risk based on criticality to your business and overall standards relevant to your business. Focus not only on prevention but detection and business continuity.

Effectively managing security and risk is a team activity – everyone must participate. You may need to evolve your company culture, so everyone participates and is cyber aware of potential security risks.