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Blog Post Mar 05, 2024

Top 6 SMB cybersecurity best practices for 2024

In a constantly evolving digital landscape, cyber threats like phishing, ransomware, and data breaches pose risks, especially for small businesses. Implementing effective cybersecurity is complex, requiring a layered approach with automated tools. Small to medium-sized businesses may struggle due to time and expertise constraints. However, numerous resources and best practices are available to guide them in addressing cybersecurity challenges and protecting their interests in 2024.

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The digital environment is always changing, and with it, the many threats that can cause extensive damage to businesses and their online reputations. These days, phishing attacks, ransomware attacks, and data breaches feel almost constant, and, while they harm many enterprises, they are especially common among small businesses.

Cybersecurity promises to address and mitigate these issues, but these days, increasing security is far from simple. A layered approach is essential, complete with several tools and automated practices to streamline difficult processes and avoid potentially harmful human errors.

This can be difficult for small to medium-sized businesses to achieve because many lack the time or expertise to implement today's most impactful cybersecurity strategies. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources available.

Not sure where to start or which solutions to try? Below, we have highlighted cybersecurity best practices for small businesses that can make a world of difference. Learn what it takes to address cybersecurity challenges and what you can do to protect your SMB in 2024.

1. SSL certificate management automation

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates create encrypted communications between two machines. Crucial for authenticating website identities, SSL certificates are only given after requesting organizations are vetted by trusted Certificate Authorities (CAs). This process can be confusing and time-consuming, so small businesses are increasingly turning to automated solutions for help.

Without automation, SMBs risk expired certificates, which can be very problematic. When these are manually handled it can be difficult and time-consuming to keep up to date, especially as the digital certificate lifespans are decreasing.

With 90-day certificate lifespans coming, automated certificate management provides the most reliable path to SSL management. This helps businesses avoid outages, and minimizes the cost of time-consuming manual processes.

2. Create a cybersecurity culture

Cybersecurity is more than a checklist, it’s a philosophy that should be built into every part of a small business. This means creating a security-centric culture through careful hiring practices and ongoing training.

All employees need to recognize why small businesses are so vulnerable and how their actions can make a difference. They should be completely on board with important strategies such as strong passwords and multi-factor authentication (MFA) — and also, willing to report suspicious activity.

Training can make a huge difference, but employees also need to receive detailed feedback so they can improve. Often, this means building cybersecurity concerns into evaluations. Encourage employees to ask questions and to get invested in the team effort to fight cyberattacks.

3. Keep software updated

It doesn't take long for cutting-edge software to fall behind, especially where cybersecurity is concerned. Regular patches and antivirus solutions address newly discovered security concerns, but they must actually be implemented to work. Unfortunately, SMBs often fail to keep up with critical updates, leaving their websites and applications vulnerable.

The best solution? Make the most of automatic updates, which streamline the never-ending process of updating software. As updates are rolled out, automated solutions ensure that they are made without the need for confirmation. This results not only in improved security, but often in better functionality.

4. Use a website scanning tool

Website scanning has long played an important role in comprehensive cybersecurity plans, but it is even more important in 2024 — especially as a larger variety of cyber threats enter the picture. Scanning tools can quickly uncover vulnerabilities, making it easier to address these issues before they are exploited.

A good scanning solution will help find a variety of concerns. Malware scanning is particularly important, as this flags suspicious content so that it can be quickly fixed. Today's website scanners also provide SQL scanning, application scanning, and much more. SMBs are a prime target for malware attacks, so the more you know about your site’s current status, the better.

5. Add a web application firewall (WAF)

The web application firewall (WAF) is increasingly viewed as a cornerstone of modern cybersecurity. They are used to filter out and analyze incoming traffic to a site, and then block traffic that is deemed dangerous.

This is an especially valuable strategy for combating common cyberattacks such as cross-site scripting (XSS) and SQL injection. These are among the most common and harmful attacks, so robust protection is needed. A WAF is typically a cost-effective, easy to implement solution.

6. Develop an incident response plan

Even the most secure businesses can be vulnerable to cyberattacks, as seen by the frequent data breaches that strike the most well-protected corporations. Preventative measures are essential, but SMBs should also create response plans to ensure any issues are handled quickly.

In the worst-case scenario, a solid response plan can get critical functions back up and running, limiting costly downtime and reputational damage. This plan should reveal who will be involved in the mitigation effort, how incidents will be classified, and which procedures should be carried out.

Real-time threat intelligence can play heavily into this effort. This provides excellent insight into the early stages of potential attacks, making it easier to fight these efforts before any real damage is done. Real-time threat intelligence also offers a glimpse at the motives and typical behaviors of cybercriminals.

Keep your small business safe with Sectigo

It takes a lot to protect your online presence against today's biggest cyber threats, but remember: you don't need to go it alone. With Sectigo in your corner, you can improve security by maintaining up-to-date digital certificates. Contact us today to learn how we can help with automated SSL certificate lifecycle management.

We also offer a vast lineup of web security products to help further secure your small business website.

Related posts:

Automation in cybersecurity: the importance for small businesses

How certificate lifecycle management helps address the IT skills gap