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Cybersecurity 101 for SMBs

There’s a common misconception that small and medium organizations are less likely to be targeted by cybercriminals. The reality is just the opposite: SMBs often present a much easier target than large enterprises, making them even more likely to be attacked. Here’s where to start for SMB owners.

Why Threat Actors Target SMBs

Contrary to popular belief, studies show that malicious actors target SMBs more often than multi-billion dollar organizations, particularly if they’re in high-risk industries like healthcare. Larger companies can afford to spend more on cybersecurity and, thus, have become more difficult to attack than their SMB counterparts.

Plus, cybersecurity attacks continue to grow in variety and sophistication. They include the following, in addition to others:

  • Malware
  • Data collection and exfiltration
  • Password breaches
  • Insider threats
  • Endpoint-delivered
  • Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks
  • Denial-of-service (DoS)
  • SQL injections
  • Zero-day exploits
  • DNS tunneling

Critical Components for an SMB Cybersecurity Plan

When developing your cybersecurity plan, focus on being proactive rather than reactive, starting with measures that evaluate your current state.

Security Assessments

Understanding a business’s current cybersecurity state is critical – how else can you determine where to start? A security assessment uncovers vulnerabilities that could expose valuable data to malicious actors within your operations, network, and software. Once an initial evaluation is performed to determine a baseline for what cybersecurity measures to prioritize, regular assessments should follow to keep up with emerging weaknesses.


“Patches” fix security issues and bugs in software and operating systems. Vendors release them to improve performance and security. According to ZDNet, 33% of breaches result from unpatched vulnerabilities. Staying on top of security patching is crucial as a preventive measure. Regularly maintaining your security will also improve the overall functionality of your hardware and software and remove any existing bugs you may not have found otherwise. Patches are released either in bulk on a schedule or as needed by developers, but the key is to keep them regular and up to date.

In addition to the business’s proprietary software, any hardware or software updates from third-party providers should also be maintained. Examples include anything from Google’s latest Chrome update to installing the latest version of Microsoft 365. Even applications on employees’ personal devices are potential threats to a network, and patches should be automatically downloaded as often as possible.

Endpoint Security

An endpoint is any device connected to the network, such as a desktop, laptop, mobile device, or any Internet of Things (IoT) tool. Where these connections exist, so too does a weakness that could be used for exploitation. Endpoint security mitigates these attacks by constantly examining devices within your network to protect against viruses and malware.

Employee Training

Employees are some of the most effective mitigators against cybersecurity threats – and are also most likely to accidentally introduce a threat to your network. An estimated 90% of successful breaches were caused by human error. Therefore, all employees should be required to undergo regular security awareness training to empower them to take an active role against cybercrime.

User Security: MFA, Passwords, VPN

Organization-wide security is essential, but so is security at the employee level. Three of the best types of user security are:

  • Password policies – Implement a policy that requires passwords to be complex, updated regularly, and difficult to guess. Ideally, take it a step further with passphrases.
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA) – Multi-factor authentication is a verification process that requires multiple credentials to log in to a system or perform a secure transaction. While simple authentication methods require just one factor (or evidence of a user’s identity), typically a password, MFA requires the use of at least two. Even if, for example, a cybercriminal obtains a password to access an account, MFA adds an additional barrier to prevent access.
  • Virtual private networks (VPNs)— A VPN connection creates a safe link between you and the internet. Through the VPN, all your data is sent through a protected virtual tunnel. Because today’s workplace includes remote employees and employees across locations, VPNs are especially important.


A firewall monitors all traffic coming in and out of a network and can prevent unauthorized users from gaining access to anything they don’t have rights to. Next-generation firewalls are particularly effective and can be managed by a third-party managed services provider (MSP) to ensure they are properly installed, configured, and maintained.


Backups are crucial to keeping business operational. Outages are inevitable, and backups offer protection that ensures your data is not lost during a natural disaster, sudden network downtime, or other unforeseen issue. Should an attack or outage occur, an effective hybrid backup strategy (including both physical backups somewhere off-site and cloud backups) allows businesses to get up-and-running more quickly.

Physical Access

Physical access may seem obvious, but protecting access to your machines is as critical as any other component of cybersecurity. Keep a close eye on who is accessing computers and take it one step further with monitoring that encompasses your digital files to keep a log of who has accessed what.

Fight Back with Help from TPx

Cybersecurity is overwhelming. TPx understands the unique challenges of securing your SMB and can support you with managed security services designed specifically for SMBs. Get in touch with us to start your cybersecurity journey.

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