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Unlocking resilience: The business case for cybersecurity automation

One of the best ways to unlock security resilience in the digital era is through cybersecurity automation

Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock
Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock

Opinions expressed by Digital Journal contributors are their own.

When it comes to cybersecurity, it feels like the landscape is ever shifting. Well, it’s a valid sentiment considering cybercriminals refine their tactics regularly and relentlessly probe for holes in defenses across all industries.

The easy, unfortunate targets? Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). They often store valuable customer and financial data, but here’s where the problem starts: they lack the sophisticated security larger corporations have. This creates an undeniably vulnerable combination. The impact of a successful cyberattack can be huge and devastating for these organizations. Lost income. Operational disruptions. Severe reputational harm. Small businesses simply can’t afford a major incident. 

Being aware of the consequences, it’s reasonable to believe that heightened cybersecurity is no longer optional. It’s a glaring need that small businesses can no longer overlook. What should SMBs do, then? Implement robust defenses to stop any threat in its tracks. Too much is at stake in today’s environment to leave systems vulnerable. Continue reading this piece to unlock your helpful tools.

The SMB vulnerability factor   

SMBs are often targeted by cybercriminals; in fact, studies reveal that 43% of cyberattacks are targeted at small businesses. This is because more often than not, their security is weaker than what larger enterprises have in place. Even with some security measures, SMBs frequently would still need bigger companies’ dedicated IT personnel and 24/7 monitoring capabilities. Of course, criminals know about these gaps so they exploit them.

These attacks come in many forms — phishing scams that steal passwords, ransomware that locks down critical data, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that overwhelm a business’s website, and many others. The financial and operational setbacks from a single successful breach can be substantial and, in some cases, may even shut down a small business for good. And that’s the last thing you want to happen.

How automation can unlock resilience 

Cybersecurity automation has emerged as a way to unlock resilience against threats. Here’s a look at automated solutions that could benefit SMBs:  

1. Automated certificate lifecycle management  

One vital area where automation shines for SMBs is managing the lifecycle of digital certificates — specifically, secure sockets layer/transport layer security (SSL/TLS) certificates. They encrypt communication between web browsers and servers, securing online transactions and verifying website authenticity.  

Close-up of a browser window showing lock icon during SSL connection. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock

However, tracking expiration dates, ensuring timely renewals, and coordinating certificate installations with Certificate Authorities are complex tasks that are difficult to handle manually, especially at SMBs with very limited IT security staff. This complexity increases exponentially as new web security standards shift towards requiring shorter certificate validity periods.

Automated certificates as a service solutions alleviate these headaches by automatically monitoring certificate inventories across networks, initiating renewals when needed, and seamlessly managing the certificate lifecycles. This ensures critical encryption doesn’t lapse and prevents websites from being flagged as insecure in browsers, protecting customer trust and day-to-day business operations. 

2. Ongoing threat scanning  

Staying one step ahead of constantly evolving cyber threats demands proactive monitoring. Automated scanning tools are an extra security staffer, tirelessly hunting for possible malware, known software vulnerabilities, and suspicious activity 24/7 across networks and systems.  

They function as an always-alert warning system, quickly alerting SMB security teams to potential threats before they become full-blown breaches. This approach ensures proper risk awareness and mitigation as part of a cybersecurity landscape. 

The tools can also scan continuously on set schedules or in real-time, providing vigilant protection even outside standard 9-to-5 business hours when human staffing may be minimal. By surfacing threats early on, automated detection enables quicker incident response, significantly shrinking the window of opportunity attackers have to gain their first foothold.  

3. Constant software patching 

Unpatched software vulnerabilities? Consider them unlocked doors for cybercriminals looking to sneak in. Yet, with limited budgets and focus, SMB IT teams often must catch up in implementing constant security updates vendors release. Automating patch management helps overcome this common issue that leaves avoidable security gaps. 

Automated patch deployment solutions use available updates to plug these holes as soon as patches become available. By automatically auditing systems to identify pending patches, prioritizing the most critical ones first, and rolling out updates on a set schedule, they take consistency and timeliness out of the equation.

Ongoing automation ensures SMB systems are updated virtually once vendor fixes are published, rather than lingering vulnerable for days or weeks.

Benefits of automated cybersecurity

Here are some of the advantages businesses stand to gain from automating cybersecurity:

1. Increased efficiency and accuracy 

Many SMB owners and managers need help to balance cybersecurity necessities with limited time, budgets, and in-house technical know-how. A recent cybersecurity survey gives a clearer picture: 94% of chief information security officers (CISO) of small security teams say they suffer from barriers such as lack of personnel (40%) and excessive manual analysis (37%).

Automation offers a way to combat this challenge. By using tools that automate repetitive, time-consuming tasks, businesses can streamline their security operations, reduce mistakes by human security staff, and strengthen their overall defenses.  

Automated solutions excel in areas where manual processes are prone to errors. Even small oversights, like a misconfigured firewall rule or overlooking a needed software update, can snowball into major issues and provide openings for attacks. Automation systems continuously enforce security policies and apply patches to close these vulnerable gaps.

2. Driving down costs  

The upfront costs associated with cybersecurity automation is why many SMBs haven’t implemented these types of tools. Generally, companies invest a median of 22% of their IT budget in cybersecurity, which can be considered a high investment for SMBs.  

However, viewing automation spending through a long-term, cost-saving lens is crucial. Investing in robust preventative tools will help avoid the hard dollar costs linked to a potential cyberattack — lost revenue, recovery efforts, fines, and reputational harm. 

To add, automation reduces the overhead associated with manual security processes, improves consistency, and enables understaffed SMB security teams to support more demanding responsibilities cost-effectively.

Over the years, these efficiency and risk reduction benefits add up substantially compared to perpetually reacting to and recovering from breaches.

3. Supporting security staff  

Automation enhances existing IT/security teams by alleviating triage overload. It automatically handles essential tasks which include certificate deployments, vulnerability scanning, and vulnerability patching. 

What happens next? Cybersecurity staff at small businesses can now focus their energy on bigger-picture defense strategy, deep threat analysis, and understanding the ‘why’ behind incidents. This balanced approach blending seamless automation with human insight and adaptability is what ultimately strengthens SMBs’ overall security posture.  

Conclusion 

Cyber threats are getting more and more advanced as days pass. Thankfully, automation tools are quickly becoming available to help in protecting SMBs at all times. By letting software handle repetitive security tasks in the background, these businesses can free up their small IT teams so they can focus on other important matters.

Yes, investing in automation tools requires some upfront costs, but don’t be disheartened. You’re not losing money over nothing. At this point, just think of it as the cost of doing business as securely as possible.

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Written By

Jon Stojan is a professional writer based in Wisconsin. He guides editorial teams consisting of writers across the US to help them become more skilled and diverse writers. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his wife and children.

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