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IBM reports that threat actors typically target large enterprises, and it should come as no surprise as to why. The bigger the target, the bigger the haul from a potential breach — so cyber criminals, of course, want to aim for organizations that have a lot of data and dollars to lose. Bearing those truths in mind, should small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) even worry about cybersecurity strategies? 

The short answer is yes. SMBs need to keep a keen eye on their security practices because:

  • Cyberattacks (especially against SMBs) are on the rise. According to the 2023 Verizon Data Breach Incident Report, SMBs are 40% more likely to suffer from security incidents than large enterprises. Plus, the National Cybersecurity Alliance found that 60% of SMBs are out of business within six months after a cyber attack. Small and medium-sized organizations have a much higher chance of getting hit with an attack and have much more to lose. That makes choosing the right security tools critical to both SMBs’ security and business priorities
  • Meeting compliance frameworks is a must. Working up to the standards set by compliance bodies (PCI and HIPAA) or cybersecurity frameworks (like NIST) is now a matter of maintaining strong cybersecurity practices. Many of these necessary frameworks require business to meet security components in addition to other standards.
  • Qualifying for cyber insurance is harder than ever. To avoid getting hit too hard by the cost of attacks when they do occur, SMB can acquire some financial protections with cyber insurance. However, many cyber insurers require specific security tools, such as a SIEM, to be in place before providing coverage.

As a result, small and medium-sized businesses must have a heightened eye towards security. Usually, that means acquiring the right cybersecurity tool that can act as their smaller security teams’ MVP.

Types of Tools Commonly Used By SMBs

While the cybersecurity market is flooded with solutions that claim to provide the “best” defense, small to medium-size businesses typically default to two major types of security tools: large enterprise solutions and open-source tools. However, just because a tool is commonly used doesn’t mean that it’s the best solution for every type of organization.

Can Large Enterprise Solutions Work for SMBs?

Enterprise solutions already flood the SIEM market. When it comes to these types of tools, one thing is sure: They weren’t built with SMBs in mind. As such, they come with a litany of challenges for small to medium-sized businesses that end up using them.

For example, enterprise tools typically come with an enterprise price tag. These types of solutions will likely fall outside of a SMBs’ price range — which means it won’t matter if their features fit the bill or not. Plus, many of these solutions require large enterprise-size security teams to utilize and manage them. For SMBs with limited human resources, large enterprise tools can potentially cause bigger headaches because they simply don’t have enough personnel to leverage them.

Plus, these tools can end up exacerbating SMBs’ existing expertise gap. Keep in mind that security teams at SMBs usually consist of traditional network or IT professionals. While well-trained in on-premises or network security, they might face new security challenges (especially with the addition of the cloud and remote work) that they’ve never encountered before due to today’s evolving threat landscape. Large enterprise solutions aren’t designed to educate and train users on the job without sacrificing performance.

What About Open-Source Tools?

Large enterprises (like Cisco and Splunk) aren’t the only options for small and medium-sized businesses pursuing security solutions. Open source tools can be a helpful option for smaller security teams looking to test-drive security strategies. However, many of these open source solutions still require the right staff (both in number and expertise) to run them effectively.  

Additionally, leveraging open source tools runs the risk of working off outdated processes. Today’s threat landscape requires a level of flexibility and adaptability that most open source solutions cannot provide because they may not be as regularly maintained, updated, or tailored toward current security events or trends. As a result, open source options tend to provide limited value to the SMBs that use them.

Do SMBs Even Need Security Tools?

Resoundingly, yes. Without some type of security solution, the smaller security teams that work within SMBs will be left to remediate incidents on their own — often manually and with limited success. 

SMBs Deserve a Solution Built For Them

Rather than trying to make large enterprise tools or open source solutions fit, SMBs should find security tools specifically tailored to their needs. These solutions can be easy to find when small to medium-sized organizations know the primary characteristics to look for, such as:

  • Ease of use. SMBs need a solution that can deploy within hours, not days or months. They also need a tool that can provide them with the right amount of support and documentation needed to swiftly respond to threats — without adding extra strain on already time-strapped security teams.
  • Resource conscious. Smaller organizations need a tool that can provide a high level of security that’s consistently upgraded — where much of the maintenance is handled by that third-party security team. These professionals will handle the heavy lifting (such as threat hunting, creating detections, and prioritizing alerts) while more compact internal teams can handle on-the-ground issues.
  • Efficient without sacrificing cost. Just because an organization is smaller doesn’t mean it should settle for a tool that’s less up-to-task. SMBs should search for security solutions that are built specifically for organizations of their size. That way, they can ensure these tools help meet essential compliance and security frameworks without breaking the budget.

Our Recommended Next Steps

A market oversaturated with enterprise and open-source solutions does not spell doom for SMBs looking for affordable and effective security solutions. Small organizations can advocate for the security they need and find the right tools for them by determining what they can spend, identifying their existing security resources, and researching tools catering to their specific concerns. 

One great place for SMBs to start is by educating themselves on common cybersecurity pitfalls, especially when it comes to the rise of remote work. Read more about how your organization can establish the right work-from-home security policies here


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