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Blog Post Feb 20, 2024

Automation in cybersecurity: the importance for small businesses

Unlock the power of cybersecurity automation for SMBs. Streamline tasks, address vulnerabilities, and fortify protection. Explore tailored solutions for small business cybersecurity.

Table of Contents

Cybersecurity automation relies on efficient workflows to streamline manual tasks, which can otherwise be time-consuming and may even overlook key security threats. Advocates believe that automation represents the future of cybersecurity, and already, major enterprises have invested in — and embraced — automated solutions.

Unfortunately, many of today's top cybersecurity systems are built with the needs of larger corporations in mind. These may fail to address concerns surrounding small and medium-sized business cybersecurity. This is a problem because businesses of these sizes are often more vulnerable to breaches, which means they need strong protection.

The good news? There are a variety of options now available for enhancing small business cybersecurity. We will explore these in detail below, and discuss just how much automation can help improve your security operations.

The need for automation in SMB cybersecurity

Small businesses face many unique challenges as they strive to implement robust, yet cost-effective cybersecurity strategies. Unfortunately, if they aren’t able to find and implement the right solutions, it can have devastating results. Data from one of our previous Sectigo studies reveals that half of SMBs have suffered website breaches, with a shocking 40 percent experiencing monthly attacks.

If these findings are any indication, it would be that SMBs are in desperate need of protection. However, many struggle to take the steps needed to enhance cybersecurity. Automation represents the best possible solution: a chance for SMB's to affordably boost security with minimal effort.

Use cases

There are a variety of circumstances in which automation makes sense for security-focused SMBs. Some businesses may need to automate a few specific strategies or solutions, while others may call for more robust cybersecurity services that draw even more so on the power of automation.

We’ve highlighted several of today’s most promising opportunities for building automation into SMB cybersecurity initiatives:

Certificate renewal and management

Manual digital certificate renewal can be a huge liability for SMBs, as it opens the door to unacceptable gaps in website and application protection through expired certificates. These are unfortunately common among small businesses and can be costly. Automation, however, ensures that certificates are renewed on time and properly managed throughout their entire lifecycle.

While some small businesses try to handle the renewal process on their own, this will become more difficult as certificate lifespans shrink. When the SSL certificate lifecycle switches to lasting just 90 days, there is a stronger need for automated support. The goal: to streamline certificate validation, issuance, and renewal, while avoiding delays and outages associated with human errors or staff turnaround.

Threat detection and response

Continuous website threat monitoring is a must, as many issues are easier to deal with when discovered early on. This begins with threat detection: automatic scanning solutions that can quickly find potential security concerns and provide fixes through automated processes. The ideal solution will include several types of scanning: malware scans, application scans, SQL injection scans, and more.

In addition to detecting potential threats, automated security solutions provide quick incident response. Malware removal systems, for example, expedite what could otherwise be a time-consuming manual removal process. As these threats are dealt with systematically, the risk of website attacks (such as SQL injection or cross-site scripting) decreases exponentially.

Firewall and network security

Firewalls play a large role in the effort to fight against threat actors. Responsible for monitoring traffic and blocking it when necessary, a strong firewall can function a lot like a gate, letting in traffic when it meets the right condition, but keeping malicious traffic out of the picture. This is an important component of endpoint security, but many SMBs lack firewall protection.

Through automation, firewalls can be configured and managed more efficiently and effectively. Automation promotes better provisioning and can accomplish everything from bottleneck reductions to improved compliance.

4 benefits of cybersecurity automation

Automated solutions help SMBs provide the secure web environment that customers, clients, and employees deserve. There are many associated benefits, but we have highlighted a few of the top advantages below:

1. Long-term cost savings

SMBs may not have the resources needed to implement comprehensive security strategies on their own. Some attempt to cut costs with manual processes, but this may actually prove more expensive in the long run. After all, manual strategies are more time-consuming, yet less effective than their automated counterparts.

Should manual (and less effective) strategies fail to prevent cyberattacks, the outcomes could be alarming: results from the IBM 2023 Cost of a Data Breach Report suggest that, among organizations with under 500 employees, data breach expenses exceed $3.31 million. These costs relate to extensive downtime (especially when response times are lengthy), although reputational damage can also come into play.

Other savings come about as solutions and services are obtained at scale. Security solutions are available at every price point, and often, several services can be bundled to produce comprehensive protection for a reasonable cost. Add staffing-related savings to the mix, and it’s clear that automated solutions can be highly cost-effective.

2. Reducing human error

Many SMBs lack dedicated cybersecurity or IT teams and instead rely on employees who may not have the proper training to implement and maintain different cybersecurity tools and solutions. Handled incorrectly, these solutions are ineffective and may actually make existing vulnerabilities worse rather than address and resolve them.

Automated security processes are less prone to errors, and therefore, a safer option for SMBs with limited expertise or resources. This can have many benefits. With certificate renewal, for example, employees may struggle to keep up with an ever-changing series of deadlines and expirations, but automated solutions make this easy.

Similarly, manual malware removal presents many opportunities for human mistakes: insufficient scanning, failure to properly back up data, undesirable hard drive changes, and more. With automated systems in place, these mistakes quickly become a thing of the past.

3. Streamlining workflows

Operational efficiency is a must, as today’s competitive business environment requires SMBs to do more with less. Automated solutions streamline workflows so that employees can dedicate less time to security tasks, such as dealing with certificate and firewall issues, and, instead, shift their focus to other concerns.

Certificate management systems, for example, streamline complex deployment by providing one unified platform instead of struggling with managing certificates in different places. Under this approach, numerous digital certificates can be seamlessly integrated with little effort on the employee or business owner’s end.

Automated scanning and malware removal systems further enhance this by completing daily scans that would be very time-consuming if handled manually. Other opportunities for streamlined workflows relate to backup strategies, web application firewalls (WAFs), and content delivery networks (CDNs).

4. Enhancing visibility

Visibility is the key to long-term cybersecurity success. Without a thorough understanding of real-time vulnerabilities, it can be difficult for SMBs to achieve baseline protection.

This is also a must for responding to worst-case scenarios. In the event of a breach or a malware attack, a quick and decisive response can make a world of difference. Swift mitigation limits the damage and the associated costs, but this is not possible unless business leaders and security teams are consistently in the loop about possible concerns.

Automated solutions enable efficient mitigation by providing real-time visibility. This ensures that suspicious activity is observed in the moment and addressed as quickly and decisively as possible. From distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks to blacklisting, a variety of problems can be resolved more effectively with quick detection.

Using the right automation tools and solutions

No one cybersecurity solution is ideal in every situation — and this is rarely more evident than when developing security strategies for small businesses. A lot depends on the goals and concerns of the organization in question.

Personal research can reveal which tools or solutions are best suited based on the situation at hand. This means determining where current cybersecurity vulnerabilities exist or where inefficiencies (or human errors) stand in the way.

For many SMBs, the ideal approach involves some element of automation. This often takes the form of threat intelligence, although automated certificate management is becoming another necessity.

How Sectigo can help

Sectigo offers a variety of cybersecurity services designed to address the unique challenges faced by the small-to-medium sized business community.

We understand the difficulties of keeping up with SSL certificates and other security essentials which is why we created a certificate lifecycle management automation platform specifically with SMBs in mind. Sectigo Certificate Manager (SCM) Pro provides robust protection, along with valuable peace of mind. Contact our team today to learn more about this solution.

Another option worth exploring? SMB-centered packages through SiteLock. These include all the web security essentials: vulnerability management, malware scanning, and malware removal. Web application firewalls (WAFs) and content delivery networks (CDNs) are also provided. Reach out today to learn more about our packages and website security solutions.