Why SMBs Should Explore MDR

SMBs face a daunting cybersecurity challenge on several fronts. Smaller budgets versus those of larger companies result in difficult decisions about what tools or services to invest in. Combined with chronic cyber talent shortages, these budget limitations often mean missing out on proactive forms of cybersecurity, such as continuous threat detection and response.

Managed detection and response (MDR) services help companies identify and mitigate threats without any need for additional staffing. But there is a perception that MDR services only really suit enterprises. This article outlines why choosing MDR services for SMBs is the right option to improve their cybersecurity postures.

Increased Cyberattack Risks for SMBs

With media headlines regularly focusing on cyberattacks impacting huge companies (see Uber’s 2022 breach as a recent example), it’s understandable that SMB owners and decision-makers may somewhat downplay the risk of cyberattacks. In deciding how to use whatever budget is available, the focus often revolves around standard perimeter-focused tools that aim to keep malicious actors out. These perimeter-based tools include antivirus solutions and firewalls, and many smaller companies opt for free versions of these tools.

In one 2020 survey, 57% of small business owners reported that they didn’t think their business would be targeted by cyber criminals. This statistic belies the fact that 43 percent of data breaches involve SMBs.

It’s important for SMB owners and decision-makers to understand that just because attacks on dentists’ offices, local digital marketing agencies and small law firms don’t get reported in the media, that doesn’t mean threat actors aren’t actively seeking to compromise their IT environments and access valuable data or systems.

With a slew of tactics and techniques to deploy, it’s almost an inevitability that a threat actor will bypass the rudimentary, reactive cyber defenses deployed by SMBs. Hunting for signs of bad actors traversing around IT environments and managing the response plays a central role in dealing with cyber risk.

But where do MDR services come into play here? By understanding the actual risks they face in today’s threat landscape, SMBs can start to see that existing approaches aren’t enough. Proactively monitoring your environment and detecting and responding to threats are the capabilities required, no matter what size your business is. MDR provides these important functions using an outsourced model so that you can combat cyber threats 24/7/365.

Affordable Security Expertise

In recognizing the need for continuous threat detection and monitoring, SMB decision-makers then need to decide how to get what’s needed. One tempting path is to procure a detection and response solution, such as endpoint detection and response (EDR), and ask the in-house IT team (or IT guy) to use that tool as part of ongoing security operations.

The problem with keeping things in-house is that detection and response solutions require effective configuring and high levels of experience to get the most from them. And while threat actors don’t stick to a 9-5 schedule, it’s unlikely most small businesses have enough staff in place to run security operations 24/7. Existing staff are likely overburdened already from managing alerts from existing cybersecurity tools.

Well, why not just hire one or two full-time security experts for detection and response? In a world where even enterprises struggle to attract and retain cybersecurity talent, it’s extremely difficult (and expensive) to bring genuine security experts in for full-time positions. This difficulty becomes more pronounced for SMBs that can’t pay the salaries cybersecurity talent demands.

A huge lure of MDR services for SMBs is the availability of affordable security expertise. MDR service providers pool resources, orchestrate processes, leverage large volumes of threat data, and have their own internal teams of security experts who know exactly how to fine-tune detection and response processes for maximum protection and minimum confusion. These teams often work collaboratively from all corners of the globe to ensure constant protection for clients’ IT environments.

While enterprises might seek to use MDR services to augment existing security operations, smaller businesses can outsource the entire detection and response function at a cost-effective price.

Dealing with Increased Attack Surfaces

The ever-expanding attack surface of applications, networks and systems is another factor in why SMBs should explore MDR services. If you consider endpoints alone, employees working remotely and on-premises likely access business resources from at least three endpoints—their on-premise workstation, a personal laptop or computer at home, and a smartphone device. Maintaining visibility over these devices and the threats to them quickly becomes complicated for any small IT team.

Added to the complexity of securing all these endpoints is the fact that business resources are accessible in a multitude of different ways. Increased cloud adoption by SMBs led one 2022 industry report to predict that 63% of SMB workloads and 62% of SMB data will reside in a public cloud over the next 12 months. Digital transformation initiatives bring more business assets into the digital realm.

In this increasingly borderless IT environment, there are more potential points for unauthorized users to access systems and extract valuable resources. MDR services for small businesses empower these companies to cope with the complexity and growing nature of modern attack surfaces. Outsourced security experts can efficiently monitor for and respond to cyber threats wherever they occur.

What SMBs Should Look For in MDR

Knowing about the threats that penetrate your layers of cybersecurity defenses at any time of the day—that is the essence of what MDR services for small businesses offer. With a variety of MDR offerings available, here are some basic pointers on what to look for:

  • MDR vendors with passionate security analysts who stay current with the latest threat vectors and with any advancements in how threat actors operate.
  • Smooth and swift communication about threats along with actionable and clear remediation steps to speed up rather than slow down response.
  • The ability to thwart attacks on the cloud, in your network and on endpoints because SMBs also have complex IT infrastructures.
  • Cybersecurity experts who also have the ability to fine-tune detection and response processes with customized playbooks of workflows, procedures and analytics.
  • Services that go beyond merely alerting and notifying about threats to providing actionable recommended remediation steps.

If MDR sounds like something you’d like to explore for your business, check out this downloadable MDR buyer’s guide to help you find the right partner for you.

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