Cybersecurity is equally as crucial for small and growing businesses as it is for larger, more established enterprises. This is because cybercriminals can train advanced attacks designed for larger businesses on smaller enterprises’ relatively less mature cyberdefenses. Reputational and direct losses from cybercrime can stall growth for any startup. Securing the IT infrastructure of an organization can help position you for protected prosperity at scale.
The Best IT Infrastructure for Startups and Small Businesses
Startups and small businesses rely on many of the same IT infrastructure foundations as their larger counterparts:
- Security and management tools for maximizing visibility into and control over users and assets
- Threat, vulnerability, and risk management
- Incident response
As businesses grow and become more complex, these cybersecurity measures must scale so that the implemented protections match the IT infrastructure of an organization.
Inventory, Account, and Behavior Management for Startups
The first component of cybersecurity architecture implementation for startups is maximizing visibility and control. In particular, growing businesses need to monitor all IT assets—hardware and software—along with user activity. File integrity monitoring (FIM) or security information and event management (SIEM) tools assist with the former. Both functionalities emphasize monitoring individual resources and reporting on changes or events.
For the latter, companies may opt for an identity and access management (IAM) solution. An IAM program oversees individual users and governs their activity via strict authentication processes and authorizations. Authentication failures can trigger account lockouts and other, broader threat mitigation strategies. User authorizations are commonly configured according to roles (e.g., position title) or attributes (e.g., employment location).
On another level, visibility and control mechanisms for assets and users also need to ensure that all applicable legal or regulatory compliance requirements are being met or surpassed.
Threat, Vulnerability, and Risk Management for Startups
The next essential component of IT infrastructure for startups concerns risk management. In particular, companies need to account for risks and address them before they materialize into full-blown attacks or other cybersecurity incidents, which can devastate a growing company.
The most basic approach to risk is threat and vulnerability management. These programs seek to identify and mitigate all external threats, internal vulnerabilities, and other risk factors through passive scanning of all assets or accounts, similar to the FIM or SIEM tools touched on above.
Another, more active approach is managed detection and response (MDR), which includes:
- Detection – Systems constantly scanning for all possible threats and vulnerabilities, reporting on them as they appear, and setting response plans into action in real-time
- Response – Dedicated response protocols designed to minimize the spread of an attack, reduce the extent of short and long term loss, and ensure swift, full recovery
- Analysis – Deep investigative capabilities focused on uncovering root causes of vulnerabilities, threats, or attacks to then seek and eliminate them, company-wide
- Compliance – Continuous monitoring for any threats involving potential compliance infractions, such as lapses in required updates or improper data access procedures
Whatever methods a company chooses, it is critical to minimize the number and severity of cybersecurity events. However, it is never possible to completely eliminate risks.
Incident Response and Management for Startups
Finally, the last essential component all growing companies need to consider for their IT infrastructure is incident response and, more broadly, incident management. Attacks, leaks, breaches, and other cybersecurity events are bound to happen, no matter how secure a company is. Therefore, predefined plans must be established and documented for managing these incidents when they occur, including:
- Identification – Incidents need to be detected and identified as soon as they occur; this includes distinguishing between irregularities and anomalies and actual cyberattacks.
- Inventory – Upon identification, incidents must be logged and immediately indexed against all existing threat and risk intelligence from past events and external sources.
- Investigation – Once properly identified and logged, incidents must be investigated, leading to a diagnosis that will inform the initial notifications and mitigation strategizing.
- Assignment – When diagnosis is complete and a strategy is developed, it needs to be deployed—resources and personnel must be assigned, then escalated (if necessary).
- Resolution – Mitigation will continue until the incident reaches a state of complete resolution, with no traces of the attack left save those needed for evidence.
- Continuity – Finally, companies must strategize for long-term business continuity and customer satisfaction, including working with customers to avoid reputational damage.
One way to prepare all stakeholders for incident response is to conduct regular live-action training sessions, such as tabletop exercises. These provide a low-stakes environment to work through high-stakes protocols to prepare staff to respond appropriately to an actual event.
Why the IT Infrastructure of an Organization Matters
Growing companies need to ensure their physical and digital assets are safe from cybercrime and compliant with any applicable regulations. The most essential IT infrastructure for small businesses and startups alike includes mechanisms for visibility over all assets and individuals, monitoring for and dealing with risks before they turn into incidents, and recovering from events that do occur.