6 Easy, Cost-Effective Cybersecurity Solutions
You can’t turn on the news these days without hearing about the latest data breach, ransomware attack, or other cybersecurity threats. The threat landscape seems to change daily.
If you are like many IT and business leaders, you might be tired of hearing about cybersecurity. You may find it worrisome, overwhelming, or frustrating. With so many other business concerns, maybe cybersecurity has gotten lost in the shuffle.
At Kelser, we understand. It's tough to stay on top of cybersecurity when there are so many other things to think about.
You might not have the staff to have someone dedicated to cybersecurity, but please don’t let that stop you from taking proactive steps to protect your organization from becoming the next victim of cybercrime.
In this article, I’ll outline six easy things you can do to dissuade criminals. These steps won’t prevent all malicious activity, but they will go a long way toward putting basic barriers in place. And, the good news is, these six solutions aren’t complicated or expensive.
Why Is Cybersecurity Important?
We all have various ideas about why cybersecurity is important. Just to put it in perspective though, the FBI’s 2021 Internet Crime Report says that in 2021, the agency’s Internet Crime Complaint Center continued to receive a record number of complaints from the American public with a total of 847,376 reported complaints, a 7% increase from 2020.
Potential losses from these crimes exceeded $6.9 billion.
It used to be that large, multinational corporations were the most common target. That has changed and small- to medium-sized businesses are now frequent targets.
Even a single event can cause damage to your organization’s reputation and ability to do business.
Ransomware attacks alone rose by more than 90 percent in 2021.
When thinking about cybersecurity costs, there are two questions to ask yourself: How much will the solutions cost? Can you afford NOT to implement them?
How Much Does Cybersecurity Cost?
There are various levels of cybersecurity protections that you can put in place. The exact cost will be determined by several factors including:
- The size of your organization
- The level of risk your organization faces
- Your industry
- Your organization’s current cybersecurity posture
- Compliance and regulatory requirements
- Budget limitations
- The solutions that match the needs of your organization
Two Approaches To Cybersecurity
Most organizations take one of two approaches to cybersecurity.
Large businesses more frequently have the experts they need on staff for their cybersecurity journey. These experts can have a wide range of certifications, ranging from junior-level, general certifications to highly expert and narrowly defined ones. (One of the most sought-after senior-level certifications is the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification.)
Smaller organizations may consider working with an outside IT provider to either supplement a small in-house staff or to partner with the organization to jointly handle all of their cybersecurity needs.
6 Simple, Low-Cost Cybersecurity Solutions You Can Implement Today
While the most effective cybersecurity solutions are those that are comprehensive and tailored to your particular organization and needs, there are several measures you can easily implement to begin your cybersecurity journey.
1. Limit Access
I can’t think of a more important place for businesses to start than by focusing on system and information access.
Small and medium businesses are often a little looser with access rights. But, should they be? Should everyone in the organization be able to find salary information? Access billing files?
By defining who needs access to different information and limiting the access accordingly, you are putting in another security measure that protects your organization. Yes, the majority of people are trustworthy, but can you afford to take that risk?
2. Require Strong Passwords, Consider Password Managers
Strong passwords have traditionally been those with 12 or more characters that include capital and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers.
That definition has grown to include phrases that have meaning to the user but would be gibberish to someone else (think Dr. Seuss words and phrases).
Remembering multiple strong passwords can be difficult.
Password managers provide a secure way to store multiple electronic passwords in a vault that is accessed by separate login information.
Password managers minimize the risk that users will write down their passwords on a sticky note and keep it “hidden” under their keyboard. (That is one of the oldest tricks in the book and the first place someone with bad intentions would look.)
Several high-quality password managers exist today that are reasonably priced or even free, and these provide another layer of protection.
3. Establish/Review Policies & Procedures
Do you have written cybersecurity policies and procedures in place? Are they being followed? When is the last time you reviewed them? If you expect employees to follow them, make sure they know that they exist and that they reflect the current threats.
4. Implement Basic Built-In Security Features
Since 2009, Microsoft has made noticeable efforts to incorporate security tools as part of its Windows operating system.
Nowadays, you can implement some basic protections just by turning on particular features, such as having basic protection against malware with Windows Defender and blocking access to many known phishing and malware distribution sites with SmartScreen within Microsoft Edge (or using other free browsers like Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome).
These are important starting points that require no financial investment and provide necessary basic protections.
Do you have laptop computers that might have sensitive data on them? Somewhat more difficult to implement, but also free of charge and built into Windows, is BitLocker, which encrypts the hard drive, thus preventing a thief from being able to access data on it should the laptop be stolen.
There’s additional value in purchasing anti-malware or endpoint detection and response (also called EDR) products from highly reputable vendors, but if you aren’t in a position to buy and implement those now, there’s no reason you can’t use everything that’s already available to you to get started.
5. Provide Cybersecurity Awareness Training
Employees can be one of your most effective lines of defense, but only if they know what to look for and how they can avoid cyber threats.
For a small investment, you can make sure that cybersecurity issues and solutions stay front and center for your users by providing ongoing cybersecurity awareness training. (If you aren't sure where to start, check out this article: 3 Topics Every Cybersecurity Awareness Training Must Include.)
6. Update & Patch Software
Be sure to install all software updates. The updates often include patches that protect against newly identified vulnerabilities and weaknesses in software that hackers can exploit to gain access and cause damage to your critical business data.
What Is The Next Step In Your Cybersecurity Journey?
We’ve talked about why cybersecurity is important and two approaches most organizations take to cybersecurity.
We’ve outlined 6 easy steps you can take now:
- limiting access
- requiring strong passwords and considering password managers
- establishing and reviewing policies and procedures
- implementing basic built-in security features
- providing cybersecurity awareness training, and
- updating and patching software.
Nothing that I’ve said here is rocket science, but it bears repeating. While these steps are just the beginning, they are steps worth taking.
At this point, you may be ready to take the next step. You may be wondering how to develop a cybersecurity plan or whether your plan includes the right things. Read this article to find out: Does My Business Need A Cybersecurity Plan? 4 Things You Must Do.
Cybersecurity is a journey. While we will never be done, it’s important to keep things in perspective and remember that even simple solutions are better than nothing. And, when you’re ready or your business demands it, more layers of security can be added.