A woman sits at a desk in an office and faces two large computer monitors. The monitors both show black screens covered with lines of coding text. The woman wears glasses and a white-and-blue patterned shirt. She has both hands on a computer keyboard. Next to the keyboard on the desk are an open notebook, an open laptop, and a smartphone sitting on a stand.
Endpoint protection is a type of protective monitoring that secures against cybersecurity threats at each point of access, like employees' laptops or mobile phones. — Getty Images/SeventyFour

Small businesses face just as many cybersecurity threats as enterprise companies, but only 14% of small businesses are prepared to deal with them. If you’re looking for ways to prepare your business to deal with cyber threats, protective monitoring tools can help.

[Read more: How to Choose Cyber Insurance]

What is protective monitoring, and how does it work?

Protective monitoring tools analyze your network activity to spot potential threats or address any issues that have already occurred. The goal is identifying and responding to network vulnerabilities that could lead to a data breach.

Protective monitoring tools check things like system logins, file access, and network traffic. By analyzing these events in real time, it’s easier to spot any suspicious activity.

Security information and event management (SIEM) systems are a standard tool used in protective monitoring. A SIEM system is a repository that analyzes security events from different sources, helping your security team gain visibility into potential threats.

[Read more: Top Cybersecurity Tips From Dell]

Benefits of protective monitoring for small businesses

Small businesses store a lot of sensitive information about their customers, vendors, and employees. Protective monitoring tools can keep your data safe from security breaches or minimize the damage if one does occur. Here are the biggest benefits for small businesses:

  • Spot vulnerabilities: Most businesses have system vulnerabilities that they aren’t aware of. Protective monitoring helps you spot and fix these weak points so you can stop security breaches before they occur.
  • Early detection: If a data breach occurs, protective monitoring systems can help you identify them early on before they become a major problem. An immediate response is crucial to prevent data loss or a significant disruption of business activities.
  • Respond quickly to security breaches: When a data breach occurs, you need to be able to investigate and respond quickly. Protective monitoring tools give you the visibility to investigate data breaches, understand the scope, and minimize the damage caused.
  • Ensure compliance: By implementing protective monitoring software, your company demonstrates its commitment to cybersecurity best practices. This is a requirement for companies in certain industries, and can help you avoid potential fines or penalties.

[Read more: Cybersecurity Tips for Remote Workers]

Protective monitoring tools can keep your data safe from security breaches or minimize the damage if one does occur.

The best cybersecurity tools for small businesses

Companies of all sizes need a way to keep their data safe, but bigger companies often have entire IT departments dedicated to cybersecurity. In comparison, small businesses don’t have these kinds of resources available, so cybersecurity often becomes an afterthought.

But nearly 43% of all cyberattacks happen to small businesses, so it isn’t an issue your business can afford to ignore. Here are five cybersecurity tools that are accessible to most small businesses:

  • Firewalls: A firewall is a network security device that serves as a barrier between an internal and external network. It monitors and controls all incoming and outgoing traffic, blocking unauthorized access to sensitive information.
  • DNS protection: Domain name system (DNS) protection provides a barrier between your employees and the internet. It blocks your employees from accessing any harmful websites or questionable content. Since many businesses employ remote workers, you should enable DNS protection on all remote devices.
  • Endpoint protection: Endpoint protection is a security measure that protects devices like laptops, desktop computers, or tablets from various security threats. Endpoint protection secures these devices against unauthorized access, malware, and data breaches.
  • Cloud-based security: Cloud-based security is an effective and affordable option for businesses of all sizes. Cloud-based security systems utilize machine learning and AI to detect potential threats. And there’s no hardware or software to purchase or install, so you can get your system up and running much faster.
  • Email gateway security: Email gateway security implements security measures to filter out any malicious emails from your employees’ inboxes. The email gateway filters all incoming email and reviews the content, sender information, and any attachments.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

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