IT networking company Cisco has launched a new cybersecurity assessment tool to enable small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the Asia Pacific to better understand their overall security posture. Cybersecurity has become a key focus area for organisations as they embrace hybrid work, allowing employees to securely work from anywhere and through various devices. This has expanded the attack surface and increased cybersecurity risks beyond the perimeters that companies have traditionally built to protect the business.
The new online assessment tool assesses the "cybersecurity readiness" of each organisation through the lens of "Zero Trust," the concept that all attempts to access an organisation's network architecture are not granted until trust can be verified. When a user accesses an application using a device, both the user and device are verified, with that trust continuously monitored. This helps secure the organization's applications and environments from any user, device, and location.
The tool assesses the organisation's level of maturity in six areas of zero trust, i.e., user and identity, device, networks, workload (applications), data, and security operations. Once the organisation enters details of its security capabilities and policies, the tool assesses its overall security posture based on industry and sector benchmarks. It also offers tailored recommendations on the technologies that can help strengthen the organisation's overall security posture and prepare them in a hybrid work environment.
SMBs in the Asia Pacific are becoming increasingly educated about current cybersecurity risks and are investing more to better prepare for cyber incidents. According to Cisco's Cybersecurity report for SMBs for September 2021, more than half (62%) of SMBs in India suffered cyber incidents in 2021 and said that cyber-attacks cost their business more than ₹30 million.
During the same period, three in four (74%) SMBs in India suffered cyber incidents that resulted in 85% of customer information loss to malicious actors, in addition to a tangible impact on business. The number one reason highlighted as the cause of these incidents was cybersecurity solutions not being adequate to detect or prevent the attack. These attacks have a tangible impact on SMBs – from disruption in operations and loss of revenue to a negative impact on the organisation's reputation.
The mass shift to hybrid working, triggered by the pandemic, has led to a sizable proportion of employees connecting to organisations' networks and accessing information from outside the office, with many using personal devices to do so. The study said, phishing, unsecured laptops, targeted attacks by malicious actors, and the use of personal devices are among the top threats to their overall security.
Emphasising on a well-executed strategy to mitigate these threats, Anand Patil, Senior Director, Systems Engineering, Cisco India & SAARC, said, “With small businesses digitising at speed and scale and the threat landscape becoming far more sophisticated than ever before, securing their business becomes a top priority."
SMBs must ensure end-to-end protection across their workforce, workloads, and the workplace and adopt a zero-trust strategy to manage and strengthen their cybersecurity posture in a cloud-first world, said Patil, adding that this is when they can leverage the new, online self-assessment tool that provides a better understanding of their cybersecurity landscape and the "opportunities and gaps" that require attention.