As threat actors develop more advanced techniques, aimed at businesses of all sizes, relying on traditional security tools is no longer adequate. This calls for a strategic, framework-based plan to effectively manage and mitigate these cyber-risks.

1. Threat actors’ tactics are evolving, with an emphasis on speed.

Cyberattacks are rapidly intensifying, with an increasing focus on stealth and speed. SMBs are now witnessing tactics previously reserved for large enterprises. Cybercriminals are:

  • targeting businesses’ critical infrastructure, aiming to cause widespread disruption, significant financial losses, and reputational damage
  • deploying new, fast encryption methods to combat rapid detection capabilities
  • targeting backups and other recovery methods, rendering defensive measures less effective
  • initiating ransomware attacks with increasing ease, due to the collaboration of ransomware groups

Long story short: Cyberattacks on SMBs focus on speed and stealth to cause significant disruption and financial loss, while bypassing traditional security measures.

2. Successful cyberattacks are common, even for enterprise-level organizations.

In recent years, cyberattacks have gained an unprecedented level of cultural prominence, becoming a topic that captures the attention of people worldwide. These attacks have become so ubiquitous that they are now a regular fixture in daily news cycles. Noteworthy incidents like…

  • The Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack in 2021, where a criminal group disrupted fuel distribution along the East Coast of the United States, underscored the crippling consequences of cyberthreats on critical infrastructure and daily life.
  • The summer 2023 cyberattack against Prospect Medical Holdings, which operates 16 hospitals and 165 outpatient facilities in CA, TX, CT, RI, and PA showcased the ruthless nature of cybercriminals, putting patient data and healthcare operations in three of those states at risk.
  • Most recently, in Sept. 2023, the MGM Resorts breach revealed the vulnerability of even well-established corporations. Threat actors exploited social engineering tactics to gain access to MGM’s network, causing an estimated loss of $100M.

As these threats continue to evolve, their prominence in our cultural consciousness serves as a stark reminder of the critical need for robust cybersecurity measures to safeguard our increasingly interconnected world.

Long story short: Recent high-profile cyberattacks highlight the impact on daily life that breaches can have, and showcase the capabilities of threat actors, even when up against the most mature businesses.

3. Threat actors consider small- and medium-sized businesses easy targets.

While those large-scale attacks make headlines, the silent victims of the modern threat landscape are SMBs. The fact that almost half of businesses with fewer than 50 employees lack a dedicated cybersecurity budget, as indicated by Corvus Insurance, paints a concerning picture. This lack of investment is often driven by misconceptions that their smaller size makes them less attractive targets. This couldn’t be further from the truth. SMBs are squarely in the crosshairs: according to Accenture, 43% of cyberattacks target SMBs, but only 14% are prepared to counter these threats.

The ramifications of such breaches can be devastating, with a significant proportion—60% as reported by Verizon—going under within six months of an attack. Their vulnerability isn’t just about scale but also about preparedness. Due to limited access to advanced cybersecurity resources, SMBs often become low-hanging fruit for cybercriminals seeking quick financial exploits, emphasizing the need for these businesses to strengthen their defenses.

Long story short: The lack of security preparedness in SMBs often makes them prime targets for threat actors seeking easy attacks and quick gains.

4. What makes up effective security has changed.

In the shifting landscape of cybersecurity, what was once deemed “good enough” no longer is. Many businesses still rely heavily on automated tools like AV, firewalls, and EDR, alongside email filtering and built-in email alerting, to counter cyberthreats. However, advanced threat actors can outsmart these systems, particularly when using file-less malware, whitelisted tools, or live-off-the-land (LotL) techniques. Managed Detection and Response (MDR) security, which integrates people, technology, and processes, offers a more robust defense. With security analysts continuously monitoring operations, they can discern threats that automated tools may miss altogether or only catch once it’s too late.

As advanced evasion techniques rise—bypassing traditional defense—modern and comprehensive security demands, at a minimum:

These measures are vital to uphold and adapt to ever-changing threat techniques.

Long story short: The increasing sophistication of cyberthreats means traditional automated tools are no longer sufficient, highlighting the need for comprehensive, modern security solutions.

5. Good security is guided by globally recognized frameworks.

Effective and efficient security isn’t merely a reactionary measure but rather a proactive strategy grounded in meticulous planning. At the heart of an effective cybersecurity strategy is alignment to a recognized cybersecurity framework. These frameworks offer structured methodologies and best practices to manage and reduce risks, ensuring that an organization’s security posture is capable, scalable, and adaptive. The Center for Internet Security (CIS) Controls, a widely adopted standard, provides best practices and guidelines for securing computer systems and networks. Additionally, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, for instance, provides guidelines across five core functions: identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover.

Common general requirements across these frameworks include risk assessment, asset management, access control, incident response planning, and regular auditing. At Blackpoint, we take NIST’s five pillars a step further, answering the question, “What does that look like?” more specifically:

  • Asset visibility
  • Network hardening
  • Threat detection
  • Real-time response
  • Incident recovery

Adopting such a framework not only reinforces an organization’s defense mechanisms but also instills confidence among stakeholders that cybersecurity is being treated with the seriousness it demands.

Long story short: Adherence to a widely recognized cybersecurity framework not only guides your business decisions but also increases your stakeholders’ trust in your organization.

In Conclusion

The ever-changing nature of cyberthreats highlights the importance of evolving our cybersecurity strategies. From recognizing the heightened risk to SMBs to understanding the limitations of traditional security measures, it is clear that a comprehensive, modern approach is necessary. Aligning with recognized cybersecurity frameworks and adopting a Managed Detection and Response (MDR) strategy is crucial for staying ahead of sophisticated cybercriminals. In doing so, businesses can not only protect themselves but also build trust with their stakeholders, ensuring a secure and resilient future for their organization and clients.

Thrive, not just survive, in the threat landscape.

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