Based on the kind of high-profile cyberattacks dominating news cycles, you’d be forgiven for thinking these are large enterprise or government-scale crimes. But if you operate a small business, cybersecurity may be more important than you think. Most smaller businesses lack adequate cybersecurity systems, with many small business owners unaware that solutions as simple as DNS-layer security can have a massive impact on their security posture. Of course, this makes small businesses – which have access to money and sensitive data – an easy target for cybercriminals. After all, why bother bypassing the complex cybersecurity system of a big business when you infiltrate dozens of small businesses without breaking a sweat?
At Cisco Umbrella, we provide cybersecurity solutions tailored to fit into how our customers operate. That’s why we published our eBook 2021 Security Outcomes Study for Small-to-Midsize Businesses, which serves as a tool to help small business owners create a cybersecurity strategy that meets their needs while maximizing their budget. Included in this strategy should be solutions like DNS-layer security, which offers broad-spectrum protection without increasing latency or requiring a labor-intensive rollout from small businesses owners.
In this article, we dig into how cybersecurity solutions that secure your network at the DNS layer fit into the bigger-picture strategies discussed in the 2021 Security Outcomes Study mentioned above. By coupling cybersecurity solutions and strategies designed for small businesses, you can help ensure your organization doesn’t fall prey to the kinds of cyberattacks you hear about on the evening news.
The Cybersecurity Landscape for Small Business Owners
Oftentimes, small business owners assume that the modest size of their organization will help it stay under the radar when it comes to cyberattacks. But while an individual small business owner may be able to count their employees on their fingers, small businesses collectively make up a massive part of the economy. In fact, data gathered by the U.S. Small Business Administration in early 2020 suggested that 99% of companies in the United States alone count as small businesses.1 And while the COVID-19 pandemic may have affected this statistic, it certainly hasn’t eliminated small businesses entirely.
Unfortunately, the large quantity of small businesses worldwide doesn’t mean that individual small businesses owners have plenty of resources to work with when it comes to cybersecurity. In fact, the opposite is true – 75% of small business owners say they don’t have the personnel to address IT security, and 47% acknowledge that they have no understanding of how to protect themselves against cyberattacks.2 What’s more, small business owners find themselves facing a bounty of setbacks that keep them from enhancing their cybersecurity posture,3 as shown in the figure below. As you can imagine, this startling lack of cybersecurity makes a small business into a juicy target for bad actors.
The Ponemon Institute estimated that 66% of small companies have experienced a cyberattack, while 63% have experienced a data breach4 – figures which have only risen during the COVID-19 pandemic. The types of attacks that plague these organizations vary – when studying threat trends in 2021, we found that small businesses experienced everything from phishing attacks to ransomware and cryptomining. The one thing that remains consistent is the cost of these attacks: 40% of small businesses experienced 8 or more hours of downtime after a cyberattack, accounting for an average of $1.56 million in losses.2
So, how can a small business enhance cybersecurity despite limited resources and a lack of technical expertise?
DNS-Layer Security Meets Cybersecurity Needs for Small Businesses
By necessity, small businesses tend towards efficiency when it comes to implementing and managing resources. Cybersecurity solutions are no exception to this rule – small businesses owners need a product that provides measurable, broad-spectrum protection. While we go into detail on how a small business can plot out long-term cybersecurity strategies based on these principles in our 2021 Security Outcomes Study for Small-to-Midsize Businesses, those looking to get a jump-start on preventing cyberattacks might start with DNS-layer security.
The domain name system (DNS) plays an integral role in internet architecture, enabling users to connect to websites or internet applications without having to memorize a collection of IP addresses. Despite its prevalence, however, very few organizations secure the DNS layer in their networks. This makes it easy for bad actors to infiltrate businesses of all sizes using DNS. In fact, a 2020 Cisco Security Report revealed that 91% of malware uses DNS for command and control, data exfiltration, or web traffic redirection activity.5 This makes DNS-layer security a no-brainer for small businesses owners looking to enhance cybersecurity in a quick, tangible way.
If you aren’t quite sure what DNS is or how to secure it, don’t worry – we’ve put together a helpful guide on the domain name system that you can review. But for the sake of understanding how securing DNS can help improve the overall cybersecurity of your small business, here’s what you need to know:
- DNS-layer security operates at the foundation of the internet – the DNS and IP layers – stopping malware, ransomware, phishing, and botnets before bad actors can even establish a connection to your network
- Secure DNS solutions provide visibility and protection that isn’t limited by device or location, allowing you to protect on-premises and roaming employees who use laptops, iOS, and Android devices
- Cloud-native DNS-layer security – like that offered by Cisco Umbrella – doesn’t require hardware installation or software maintenance, allowing you to roll out your new cybersecurity solution across your small business in minutes
- By investing in a single solution – DNS-layer security – as opposed to a complicated network of products, you can streamline cybersecurity management while maximizing your budget
As more and more SASE vendors work towards integrating secure DNS solutions with other cybersecurity products, you may even find that your DNS-layer security package comes with additional functionality that enhances network protection. For example, the Cisco Umbrella DNS Security Advantage package includes some cloud access security broker (CASB) and secure web gateway (SWG) functionality. This functionality allows users to enjoy additional threat investigation capabilities, enhancing web security overall and providing more visibility into the kinds of malicious indicators prompting your security system to block access to a domain.
Start Enhancing Cybersecurity for Your Small Business
Your journey towards a reliable and efficient cybersecurity in your small business doesn’t need to be complicated. Download our report 2021 Security Outcomes Study for Small-to-Midsize Businesses to get the information you need to develop a solid cybersecurity strategy today, and learn more about the benefits of DNS-layer security by signing up for the Cisco Umbrella free trial!
1 U.S. Small Business Administration, 2020 Small Business Profile. 2020.
2 Fundera, 30 Surprising Small Business Cyber Security Statistics. Maddie Shepherd, 2021.
3 Ponemon Institute, 2019 Global State of Cybersecurity in Small and Medium-Sized Businesses. 2019.
4 Cisco, Small Businesses Deserve Big Protection. 2020.
5Cisco, The Modern Cybersecurity Landscape: Scaling for Threats in Motion. November 2020.