Cybersecurity is often considered expensive, and this is why small businesses on tight budgets tend to avoid it altogether. But not making cybersecurity a priority can have a drastic impact on your business.
It can cost you customers. Potentially all of them. About 60% of small companies run out of business within six months after a cyberattack.
According to a study, the average cost of a malware attack on an organization is nearly $2.6 million. Cybersecurity attacks could range from identity theft to completely wiping out all your sensitive data from your cloud storage.
If you’re a small business owner who contemplates how you can improve your company’s cybersecurity on a tight budget, look no further.
Here are a few cost-effective tips for you:
Check if your existing efforts are effective
You may have strong security policies in place and hold regular training sessions to educate your employees about the best security practices.
But that’s not enough.
You need to regularly monitor if those cybersecurity practices are actually being followed and implemented. That means assessing your existing security policies to determine if they are effective.
Here are some simple ways to ensure that your current security efforts are not going to waste:
- Check if employees are following strong password procedures.
- Monitor if data is being stored, handled, and backed up in a safe manner.
- Analyze access management control and determine if individuals have access only to the data that they actually need to perform business functions, daily tasks, etc.
- Check if your employees are equipped with the right set of tools and knowledge to tackle security breaches such as phishing scams, social engineering, malware, trojans, etc.
Early identification of security vulnerabilities helps organizations reduce the costs of remediating the vulnerability.
Limit access control
Monitor how your company’s data is being accessed by employees, clients, customers, and stakeholders.
Ensure that unauthorized people do not have access to sensitive information such as personal data, credentials, financial information, payroll details, or confidential agreements that could lead to identity theft or put your organization at the risk of a security breach.
Even a trusted, well-known person shouldn’t be permitted to access devices or networks that contain sensitive information unless required for their job.
For instance, you shouldn’t allow a client or a third-party vendor to completely access your company’s laptop. Of course, you can give limited control to some of your networks to facilitate a smooth workflow but make sure their access is restricted and monitored.
Moreover, employees with different positions and ranks might have access to different data. Employees should not share credentials or sensitive information with each other.
For instance, an accountant responsible for payroll should not share their accounting software password with another employee.
Limit access control to data that includes personal information such as bank details, credentials, or any sensitive information that could jeopardize the organization’s reputation and pave the way for cybercriminals to carry out attacks.
Keep software up-to-date
Hackers are constantly looking for ways to exploit vulnerabilities in an organization’s software, applications, and networks.
One of the most basic yet effective ways to improve the cybersecurity of your company on a tiny budget is to keep your software up-to-date.
If you have an app that needs an update, do it right away. The longer you wait and keep those applications in an older version, the greater the chances that you’ll become a victim of cybercrime.
Fortunately, many applications can be set to update automatically. Whether it is an operating system or a website plugin, and even your employees’ devices, you should consider setting up automatic updates to save time, effort, and energy.
They are a hassle-free way to ensure that your applications are automatically updated without manual effort as soon as the updates are released.
Keeping your software up-to-date can save a large amount of money that would otherwise be spent on dealing with cyber criminals and security breaches caused by apps running in older versions that may be less secure.
Manage wireless networks securely
Your business’s wireless network could be an easy way to access your data. Hackers might use it to carry out malicious activities such as stealing the credentials of your employees, getting access to sensitive data, or modifying your company’s network.
Creating a secure wireless network is an essential step to ensure better organizational security and keep your valuable intellectual property safe.
For companies that offer remote access to the business’ network, the best way to secure your wireless network is by implementing encryption such as WPA-PSK, which is considered more secure than WEP encryption.
This will only allow people with the encryption key to access your wireless connection.
In addition to this, employees must use a VPN while communicating over an untrusted wireless network as it helps encrypt data so that other users on the network are not able to view it.
Leverage application whitelisting
One of the easiest ways to boost cybersecurity for your business is to perform application whitelisting. It is the process of allowing an index of approved executable files or software applications that can be run a computer system.
Application whitelisting aims to protect your networks and computers from malware attacks by allowing specific trusted and safe applications. It is highly restrictive in nature and does not allow any software or executable file to run unless explicitly granted approval by the administrator. This reduces the chances of a malware infection or ransomware attack.
There are many tools available that provide application whitelisting. However, it is important to understand that some tools are more feature-rich than others.
For instance, Microsoft’s AppLocker, which is a part of the Windows OS, offers minimal whitelisting capabilities that lack the rich alerting and reporting features that are commonly found in third-party tools.
Review and change policies for the use of cloud storage and mobile devices
Businesses tend to underestimate the importance of security in mobile devices and cloud storage. But Google Drive and Dropbox often contain sensitive information that could be used by attackers to target businesses and derive financial data that could be misused against their customers or used for money transactions.
You should monitor, track, and analyze user activities to detect intruders and employees that are misusing their rights to access information on the cloud storage. Real-time monitoring and evaluation will help you identify irregularities that deviate from the usual patterns, for example, a user login from a previously unknown device or IP.
Such unusual activities could indicate a security breach in your network or system, so early identification of potential vulnerabilities will help you fix security issues before they cause damage to your system.
Furthermore, you should provide regular training to your employees about phishing, social engineering attacks, and other cybersecurity threats that could be avoided.
Since many employees have access to sensitive data, you should also consider giving them authorized mobile devices that provide limited access and can be easily monitored to ensure better security.
One of the best options for companies that have small budgets for cybersecurity is to use Virtual Private Networks on remote devices to handle work data, especially if the user needs to frequently access public networks.
Create a cloud backup and disaster recovery plan
There’s no sure-shot way of preventing all kinds of malware or cybersecurity attacks.
But it is important to take preventive measures to avoid such unforeseen events and have a powerful plan-of-action that determines how to tackle security breaches and attackers.
One of the most common results of a cybersecurity attack is that data often gets lost or becomes inaccessible after the breach.
An efficient way to boost your company’s cybersecurity is by creating a solid cloud backup and disaster recovery plan.
Regular cloud storage backups and a recovery plan are crucial elements of end-to-end IT security. You can use automated backups that regularly backup your cloud storage without manual effort.
Restoring data from backups is often the only solution after an intruder has compromised your network.
Some businesses often confuse data backup with disaster recovery, but simply having copies of your data isn’t sufficient to get everything back on track, hence, a disaster recovery plan is also necessary to drive business continuity.
While backups help you recover data from service disruptions or corruption, a disaster recovery plan is oriented towards recovering the entire infrastructure or reestablishing access to data, IT resources, and applications after an outage.
It might involve switching to a redundant set of storage systems and servers until your primary infrastructure is functional again.
The core mechanism of disaster recovery is backup, however, it adds more features to it. With a good disaster recovery strategy, you can protect your data, regardless of where it is stored: the cloud, on-premises, or in multi-cloud or hybrid environments.
Wrapping it up
With the expanding cybersecurity threat landscape, it is imperative for small businesses to be on the lookout for threats and attackers that could target their organizations.
In addition to the tips mentioned above, find affordable ways to tackle industry-specific attacks and understand how you can strengthen the overall cybersecurity of your organization.
If you use other cost-effective security measures to protect your business from attackers or you have any tips to add, drop a comment below and let us know!