The modern IT age is an exciting time for small businesses. The flexibility to work whenever, wherever is within reach, thanks to mobile technology. The ability to work on different devices but the same files is commonplace, thanks to cloud-based storage. But with the good comes the bad, as they say.
With all of the enhancements and benefits that modern technology affords small businesses, the risk and threats to those IT investments are higher now than ever. Among small companies, security must be as highly prized as other buzzworthy technologies because, frankly, the stakes are too high not to prioritize this issue.
According to Symantec’s 2015 Internet Security Threat report, there was a 113 percent rise in ransomware attacks alone in 2014. Point-of-sale devices were a major target last year, and attacks on POS terminals soared by nearly 66 percent, according to TrendMicro’s 2015 Security Roundup.
To better understand where small businesses should place their bets and how the latest and greatest technologies can help beat back the cyber baddies, we spoke with Tim Rains, director of security at Microsoft and a blogger for the company’s Cyber Trust Blog.
Windows 10 is of particular interest because the operating system, which is seeing explosive growth and adoption across the board, offers several notable security features.
BIZTECH: Where should small businesses place their security investments first?
RAINS: Basic security hygiene pays large dividends. Running a firewall, up-to-date anti-malware software from a trusted source and keeping all of your software up-to-date make it much more difficult for attackers to be successful. Using caution when opening email from unknown senders and when opening attachments can help avoid common attacks. Additionally, keeping important files backed up can help reduce damage to the business and the time to recover.
BIZTECH: What unique benefits does Windows 10 offer small businesses in the way of security?
RAINS: Considered the most secure Windows ever, Windows 10 allows organizations to stay up-to-date with new innovations and security updates. This includes:
Windows Hello & Microsoft Passport: Organizations can use this feature to get rid of passwords and choose multiple ways to authenticate employees with biometrics such as face, iris, fingerprint and hardware-based authentication.
Credential Guard: This feature protects corporate identities by containing them in the hardware-based secure execution environment.
Device Guard: This feature gives organizations the ability to lock down devices in a way that provides advanced malware protection against new and unknown malware variants as well as advanced persistent threats. It provides better security against malware and zero days for Windows 10 by blocking anything other than trusted apps — which are apps that are signed by specific software vendors, the Windows Store or even your own organization.
Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection: a new service that will enable enterprises to detect, investigate and respond to advanced attacks on their networks. Building on the existing security features and services Windows 10 offers today, Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection provides a new post-breach layer of protection to the Windows 10 security stack.
BIZTECH: How often should small businesses evaluate and refresh their security solutions and strategies?
RAINS: This is another benefit of leveraging cloud services — small businesses get the benefit of their cloud vendor’s security expertise. This reduces the security planning required to protect a SMB’s on-premises environment. Using Microsoft’s cloud services in conjunction with keeping their systems up-to-date and maintaining basic system hygiene will reduce the amount of time and energy small businesses will have to spend on security strategy.