The Cash Drawer Lock Box And SMB Security

Since information security first sprouted into its own industry, the small business market has been the red-headed stepchild of the newfound art.
Since information security first sprouted into its own industry, the small business market has been the red-headed stepchild of the newfound art.For years, SMBs have fallen through the cracks of good security practices, mostly due to an industry focus on big corporations, highly regulated markets, and high-risk organizations with management teams who understood the risk and could quantify the value of security solutions. Few qualified security professionals are both qualified and interested in helping these little gems of our democratic society.

When I was first approached about writing content for SMB security, my initial reaction was to say no. Why? They don't get it. I said to myself, "SMBs don't understand the value of security, and they don't have a way to pick apart the threats that apply to them and make smart decisions about the technology." While that's true in most cases, I then had a different thought: "OK, so let's change that. Let's give them the information they're missing and help." So, my friends, here I am, on Dark Reading's new SMB Security Tech Center.

If SMBs don't think about security the way enterprises do, then let's start with what these small business owners do understand about security. Take a look around a small office -- of any type -- and see what security is in place. You'll see locked exterior doors, possibly an alarm system, maybe remotely accessible cameras, and GPS tracking in company vehicles. Certainly the cash drawer is locked and counted regularly. Some offices might have gone so far as to have secured guest wireless and strong domain authentication on their servers. In the South, you may even find a firearm or two in the main office -- you know, just in case. But they'll always have that cash drawer locked.

When you ask small business owners what they're worried about and protecting against, they'll talk about burglary, vandalism, and theft of various things, including cash, electronics, materials, and vehicles. The more IT savvy of them may even note customer data. Several may also have fears of disgruntled employees. But what you probably won't hear about are worries about botnets, malware, remote attacks on their data, and compromises of their financial resources. You won't hear those concerns until something bad happens, however. I've personally been involved in consulting more than a handful of SMBs who have been the victims of massive compromises that almost put each of them out of business.

This difference between the big security mentality and the small business mentality is easy to explain. Larger organizations and SMBs differ greatly in their resources, regulations, obligations, transactions, policy, and overall mindset. I guarantee you almost all SMB owners or management teams would declare that nothing will ever happen to them because they're not big enough to target.

Enterprises with more resources better understand the risks and quite frankly, even if they don't, they're big enough fish to get caught in the nets of compliance, regulations, and audits. As far as obligations go, the larger the enterprise is, the more customers, partners, and automation it has and the bigger the threat landscape. That doesn't mean SMBs aren't susceptible to the same types of threats and attacks. The delivery method may be slightly different, but the results can be the same: devastating.

There are many great solutions for small businesses wanting to take the first steps in securing the infrastructure inside and out. For now, just keep those cash boxes locked.

Jennifer Jabbusch is a CISO and infrastructure security specialist at Carolina Advanced Digital. By day she architects enterprise security solutions and by night, well, she does the same thing. For Dark Reading, she melds her enterprise experience and intimate knowledge of small business operations to deliver relevant security guidance for SMBs everywhere.