Government regulations are part of our businesses whether we like it or not. From big businesses to small institutions, there are many things that they are legally required to have in order to protect their assets and their customers and clients. However, there are plenty of cybersecurity firms out there that can assist with services for small institutions.

There are many people who think that, since their business is small, they don’t really need to worry about information security. It’s big businesses that get hit with these big cyber attacks and get hacked, right? That notion is not only incorrect, but dangerous. Just because a business or company is small does not meant that they aren’t targeted—in fact, the exact opposite has been happening. Small companies are becoming more and more of a prime target for bad actors and hackers.

Over the past few years, there have been quite a few small businesses that have shut down because of a bad cyber attack. Whether it’s ransomware or stealing information, many businesses can’t afford to be hacked. However, unless dealing with finances, the government regulations usually don’t come into play. That doesn’t mean that you should pass it up if you don’t deal with finances, though. Even a ransomware assessment can tell you much about your cybersecurity posture.

What services should a small institution get?

To start off, it’s important to remember that every business is different, so there’s no perfect package that fits everything. A cybersecurity firm will likely help with including or excluding things that are necessary or unnecessary for your company. Either way, there are three specific services that should be considered when getting cybersecurity. These will likely satisfy examiners for government compliance as well.

Risk Assessment

A risk assessment is an evaluation of a system or network and the threats that pose danger to it. It will measure these threats and vulnerabilities, giving you information on how much it will impact your IT environment and how likely it will happen. Many things are evaluated with this assessment, including the controls that are in place to prevent these threats and how effective they are at doing it.

The small institution risk assessment should cover a small number of controls, which range from personnel to technical aspects of an IT group. Any of these can be exploited when it comes to a malicious attack from an outside (or inside) source, so it is important to see what is and isn’t a threat. These risk assessments will usually meet examiner expectations.

IT Audit

An IT audit is similar to a risk assessment, but this is a measure on IT security controls. These controls are measured based on which ones are in place and which ones are actually working to protect you. While risk assessments are usually scans, an IT audit is a more manual and hands-on service where a security analyst will get physical proof of these implemented controls or the lack thereof.

There are many different variations of an IT audit. People sometimes confuse an IT audit with many other things, so it’s important to discuss with the cybersecurity firm what it entails. However, what it boils down to is a verification of security controls. Analysts will collect this evidence of what controls are in place, which can vary from documentation, policies, pictures, and more.

Tabletop Test

Disruptions of all sorts can happen, so it’s important to know what to do whenever these things happen. That’s what a tabletop test is for—it is a test of everything revolving around responses to disasters. These disasters range not only from cybersecurity issues, but natural disasters as well. Anything that can disrupt the business should have a plan or policy in place.

Small institutions can take advantage of this, sitting everyone in a room (or in an online meeting) to go over responses to certain disruptions. If there’s a ransomware attack, a fire, or even a tornado, there should be something in place that lets the business know how to respond. These are discussed in this meeting, and changes are made when necessary.


Small institutions are expected to follow government regulations for cybersecurity. It can be pretty daunting, especially with the price of these services. However, some cybersecurity firms have special packages to consolidate and properly gauge the size of a network. Within these packages, there are three services that should be considered for most small businesses that want to be safe from malicious attacks and compliant with regulations that they may have.

These three services are a risk assessment, an IT audit, and a tabletop test. With these three things in place, a small business should have no issues with bad actors or examiners. Plenty of cybersecurity firms can work with smaller institutions to get them on a roadmap to improve their cybersecurity posture, so always be on top of the game. Technology is always changing, so it’s a good idea to get small institution cybersecurity services.

Eddy Berry, Security Research Analyst

Eddy has been researching cybersecurity for a few years now. Finding specific trends and best practices is something he takes pride in, assisting in finding news and government regulation that are on the rise. He researches topics and writes articles based on current events and important vulnerabilities that are affecting people, always hoping to get the necessary cybersecurity steps to those that need them.