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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Scheldt

Understanding the Importance of Threat Intelligence for SMBs

A cat, peering around a wooden gate, keeping a close eye on what is going on.

Threat intelligence is a defense method that can be difficult to understand for many small businesses outside of the security and technology industries. In the past, many small-to-mid-sized businesses (SMBs) have prioritized their physical security protection over cybersecurity. Cybersecurity was often viewed as luxury, not a business necessity. However, numerous small businesses have begun to recognize that cyber incidents happen far more commonly nowadays than they used to. Many of the security threats widely covered in the news today are not limited to multi-million-dollar enterprises, and they can be far more devastating to SMBs. These security threats have prompted small business owners to get more serious about their cyber risks and the role that threat intelligence can play in enhancing their cybersecurity posture successfully. In this post, we’ll cover what threat intelligence is, common attacks that impact SMBs, why it’s important, and more. 


What is threat intelligence?


Before diving more in-depth into the importance of threat intelligence for SMBs, it’s valuable to expand on what it actually is. Threat intelligence is categorized as data that has been “aggregated, transformed, analyzed, interpreted, or enriched to provide the necessary context for decision-making processes”, as defined by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). As a small business owner, that reads clear as mud, doesn’t it? In simpler terms, threat intelligence is information that helps you to be aware of what is going on around you that could pose a risk to your business. It can include news, warnings, alerts, as well as information from your security tools. For instance, endpoint detection and response (EDR), firewalls, and antivirus software are forms of tools that provide threat intelligence information in addition to protecting your business. These are tools that can help SMBs decrease their digital attack surface and increase their security defenses against online threats that can impact business operations or even viability.

Cyber Threats that Can Impact SMBs


National and global media publications have deepened their coverage of cyberattacks in recent years. This greater coverage of ongoing cybersecurity issues has also prompted many small business owners to question what risks they may also face against attacks. The challenge many of them face is that they often come from industries that aren’t IT or cybersecurity. Many SMBs may not fully understand the type of security risks their business and industry may face. 


For example, countless SMBs can be impacted by security threats, such as:

 


However, these are just several examples of the attack methods that criminals will use to attack both enterprises and SMBs. The list is not exhaustive, and threats continue to grow in the amount and complexity often. Common attack methods from cybercriminals will evolve with new technology adoption as well. Learning about new types of attacks that you should be aware of is threat intelligence!


Threat Intelligence Challenges for SMBs 

One of the biggest challenges that SMBs often face is the availability and affordability of appropriate security solutions for their business. They may also experience difficulty in actively sourcing threat intelligence information that is relevant and actionable within their specific business and industry. There are countless cybersecurity tools on the market that work with companies of different sizes and diverse industries, but it can be difficult for small business owners to know which tools to prioritize.


Whether a business has 1 or 1000 employees, the cost of security tools and other advanced measures can limit their availability to the SMB market. For a small business, there needs to be a valid use case to invest in security tools. Without relevant threat intelligence information to support strategic cybersecurity decisions, many small businesses under-invest, or worse, mis-invest and face devastating security incidents.


Why is threat intelligence important to SMBs?


Cybersecurity risks are not just a threat to large enterprises, but also to SMBs. As referenced in Infosecurity Magazine, 73% of small business owners reported a cyberattack in 2023. It’s important to remember that the number of SMBs that experience an attack continues to change yearly. For many, there is an increased need for additional support against security threats through threat intelligence capabilities for SMBs.


Threat intelligence helps small businesses stay informed about current cyber threats, risks, and vulnerabilities. It also enables them to take proactive measures to defend themselves against attacks. As we've discussed, SMBs have limited resources for proactive security measures, which can make them an easier target for attack.


Theat intelligence helps SMBs identify and minimize risks before they escalate into security incidents that affect business operations radically. Small businesses that prioritize threat intelligence and security tools into their business planning offer themselves a competitive advantage against others in their industry. Cybersecurity has garnered more interest from business owners of all sizes, including SMBs. Therefore, SMBs that establish a great security posture can set themselves apart in their industry.


Have you found sources of threat intelligence that have been particularly useful to you in your small business? Use the buttons at the top right corner of the page to connect with us on social media and let us know.


Do you have questions about this topic? You probably aren’t alone! Join us as a caller on a future episode of The Mindful Business Security Show and ask your questions on the podcast!

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