Cybersecurity had a global market size of $202.72 billion in 2022 and it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.3% between 2023 and 2030. The amount of money lost annually due to cybercrime-related damages was $8 trillion in 2022. The annual losses are projected to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025. These numbers indicate that the cost of a security breach heavily outweighs the cost of implementing robust security measures.
Cybersecurity has to be prioritized regardless of a business’s size or niche. Small businesses and startups are especially susceptible to cyber attacks since only 42% of SMBs have cyber security measures in place. The notion that small businesses do not attract hackers is unfounded.
Targeted attacks tailored for specific victims make up a small portion of all the cyber attacks taking place every day. Startups and SMBs are way more likely to fall prey to untargeted mass attacks where hackers send malware and phishing emails to hundreds of thousands of stolen contacts.
The size of a business is immaterial to mass attacks. Startups need a well-crafted security strategy backed by the right set of tools to thwart these attacks and maintain compliance as well as peace of mind.
We have discussed how to set up cybersecurity for a startup in this step-by-step guide. In this post, we will discuss choosing the right cybersecurity tools and solutions for your business based on the NIST framework for cybersecurity.
5 Categories of cybersecurity activities as per NIST Framework
The National Institute of Standards and Technology divided security activities into five broad categories.
|Phase||Description||Key Security Functions|
|Identify||Identify the assets and resources that are foundational to an organization’s functionality and assess the risk associated with these assets and resources.||Asset Management, Governance, Risk Assessment|
|Protect||Implement strategies and measures to contain the impact of a cybersecurity incident on critical assets.||Identity Management and Access Control, Awareness and Training, Data Security, Maintenance, Protective Technology|
|Detect||Discover and detect cybersecurity incidents and exploitable vulnerabilities.||Intrusion detection, attack surface monitoring, vulnerability scans, continuous monitoring|
|Respond||Implement incident response plans, mitigation strategies, and containment protocols.||Incident Response, Mitigation Strategies, Containment Protocols|
|Recover||Restore operations after a cybersecurity incident.||Salvaging Assets, Recovering Processes, Communications|
This article will limit its scope to the first three categories of cybersecurity functions – identify, protect, and detect. We will look at security tools that cover one or more of these categories and discuss the key features to look for while choosing cybersecurity solutions for your business.
Types of cybersecurity tools and how to evaluate them
As a startup grows, its attack surfaces expand, attracting malicious actors. The startup owners and/or the IT department are responsible for implementing adequate security measures to thwart attacks and protect the systems and cloud-based appliances from data breaches, ransomware attacks, denial of service, and distributed denial of service, among other kinds of cyber threats.
1. Asset Discovery tools
Startups trying to build an efficient minimum viable product as fast as possible are bound to use a host of third-party applications for product management, communications, documentation, and whatnot.
The number of apps, devices, and other assets running on the company network grows with the startup to a point when it becomes very difficult to locate all assets.
The IT department cannot secure what it cannot see; hence vulnerabilities crop up in invisible assets. That’s where asset discovery tools come into play.
An IT asset discovery tool creates a comprehensive and accurate overview of all assets – hardware, software, and users – in a network or environment. This enables visibility and control.
Features to look for in an asset discovery tool
- The asset discovery tool should not have too much overhead traffic so that it does not affect the day-to-day functionalities of an organization’s network. The asset discovery process should not cause any business downtime.
- The scope of discovery should be aligned with the length and breadth of the organization. The scans should be easily scalable.
- Startups need to look for a robust reporting feature in an asset discovery tool so that knowledge workers do not have to invest time in converting data from the tool into easily understandable reports.
It is often hard to discover and keep track of all the cloud services used by a startup’s employees. The unbridled use of third-party applications to get tasks done faster gives birth to shadow IT.
A cybersecurity tool like Uniqkey can remedy this situation with its shadow IT monitoring dashboard. The dashboard creates visibility into all cloud-based applications run by the employees of an organization along with granular details of usage.
2. Attack surface monitoring tools
An organization’s attack surface is the sum of its assets exposed to cyber-attacks. The attack surface consists of OS-level, third-party, and cloud-hosted assets. Every entry point to the IT environment is part of the attack surface.
Attack surface monitoring involves the identification of high-risk data flows and network communications that might expose an IT environment to threats, and detecting anomalies.
In modern DevOps environments, attack surface monitoring systems are usually integrated with the CI/CD pipeline. This allows the company to assess and mitigate risks while a software version is still under development.
Features to look for in an attack surface monitoring (ASM) tool
- The ASM tool should keep a log of all data access requests.
- It should be able to detect unusual behavior early and raise alerts when there are anomalies in network traffic.
- ASM tools that come with a continuous vulnerability scanning feature are surely more useful.
Firewalls are part of the “Protect” category of security activities. A firewall acts like a filter that tracks what data comes into a network and prevents any suspicious data packets from entering the network.
Firewalls use methods like packet filtering, proxy service, and stateful inspection to match data packets with a database of malicious code. It discards data packets that showcase malicious features.
Features to look for in a firewall
- Look for a firewall with customizable security rules.
- Finding a software suite that combines a firewall and a malware scanner can be cost-effective.
- Next-generation firewalls (NGFW) combine packet filtering with intrusion prevention and web scanning.
- Look for a solution that supports the protection of remote assets
- A firewall with easy threat visibility and a firewall management console is always preferable.
4. Application security testing tools
Growing up, a startup requires a variety of application security tests. A combination of point-in-time static application security testing (SAST) and continuous dynamic application security testing (DAST) can yield the most comprehensive picture of a startup’s security posture.
What to look for in an AppSec testing tool?
- A combination of manual penetration testing and automated vulnerability scanning.
- Detailed point-in-time code reviews
- Continuous vulnerability scanning integrated with the company’s CI/CD pipeline
- The ability to test various types of software – progressive web apps, single page apps, and smart contracts, among others.
- Cloud configuration reviews
- Ability to provide mitigation guidelines to your developers when vulnerabilities are detected
5. Intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS)
An intrusion detection system sits in a computer or resides in a network and monitors network traffic to detect and record anomalies and raise alerts. Intrusion prevention systems do what an intrusion detection system does, but they are also programmed to take actions such as blocking IP addresses and shutting down access to restricted resources.
An IDPS combines the features of an IDS and an IPS to create a better-rounded system that detects anomalies in network traffic that were missed by the firewall and takes action to prevent them.
Key capabilities to seek in an IDPS
- A user-friendly interface that assists employees in managing system security
- An easy way of understanding and organizing OS audit trails
- Enablement of endpoint security
- An extensive attack signature database to reference while monitoring network traffic for anomalies
- Recognizing and reporting when restricted files have been altered
- Customizable rulesets for the intrusion prevention protocols
6. Password management tools
Almost 80% of all cyber attacks in 2022 were carried out via phishing. This highlights the role of strong authentication protocols, access controls, and password policies in protecting critical assets. A good password manager can drastically reduce the impact of human error on an organization.
A password management tool generates, stores, and auto-fills logins and passwords, making the authentication process hassle-free for individual employees and teams.
Here’s what to look for in a password management solution
- AES 256-bit + SHA 3 encryption for all passwords in the password vault
- Role-based access to passwords for individuals using master passwords
- Auto-fill credential plus 2FA information
- Protection from phishing sites
- Access logs and shadow IT monitoring
- Seamless onboarding and offboarding of employees
- Auto generation and reset of passwords
The browser-based password manager is not the best option for enterprise-level password management or any business password management use case. Organizations need enhanced features, better security, and all-priority support.
How to ensure your cybersecurity posture with the right tools
The right tools for your organization will depend on your specific needs and budget. However, by choosing the right tools and using them correctly, you can help to ensure your cybersecurity posture.
Prioritize the user experience
Tools that are hard to use are hardly used. Look for tools that offer visibility through simple and easy-to-navigate interfaces. Your developers shouldn’t have to wade through information clutter to reach important information.
Invest in tools that cater to your startup’s specific cybersecurity needs
Some businesses may need better attack surface monitoring, while others may need a more robust compliance management system. Needs vary based on a company’s size, vertical, and nature of business. These specific needs should be considered.
Go towards zero-knowledge tools
Some tools will need to access sensitive information to detect anomalies. For instance, a SAST tool may require a company’s codebase access. But the general idea should be to strive for zero-knowledge tools that function without accessing unencrypted data wherever possible.
If a tool sounds too expensive, it probably is
Adopt tools that provide the best value for money regarding functionality, security, and scalability. And a little negotiation can go a long way when buying third-party licenses.
Why businesses need to choose the right cybersecurity tool early
The wrong set of cybersecurity tools can make a startup suffer dearly. Cybersecurity for enterprises is a different ball game when compared to cybersecurity for individuals. Setting up the best cybersecurity solutions for organizations can be expensive and effort-intensive. A lot of things can go wrong
- Security tools that do not integrate well with a startup’s infrastructure can disrupt the security posture
- Cybersecurity solutions that teams find hard to use or understand are extremely counterintuitive
- Tools that cannot cope with the continuous deployment models adopted by startups can leave room for vulnerabilities.
It is vital to quickly identify tools that do not serve the organisation’s best interest and replace them with the necessary tools.
For instance, if you start using a password manager that doesn’t make it easy for employees to access their accounts without compromising security, they will eventually stop using the password manager. They will try to save passwords in plaintext, leading to security weaknesses.
Uniqkey creates a seamless flow of credentials, enabling auto-logins and eliminating the need for employees to access credentials. Since the password manager makes life easier for employees, they’re less likely to bypass it. Dive in with Uniqkey’s FREE trial for your startup today!