5 Low-Cost to No-Cost Cybersecurity Safeguards for Small Businesses

If you think your small business is immune to cyber threats—think again. 

While large corporations typically have robust cybersecurity measures in place, it’s not unusual for small businesses to overlook the significance of safeguarding their sensitive data. Often, this is met with the assumption that hackers only go after big business. But with recent studies showing up to 43% of cyber attacks are targeted at small businesses [Accenture], it’s time for all of us to get up to speed with cybersecurity. 

Many small businesses are faced with the same challenges when it comes to implementing cybersecurity safeguards: lack of in-house expertise, limited resources, and uncertainty when it comes to proactive threat prevention. To bridge the gap, here are a few low-cost to no-cost cybersecurity best practices your small business can get started with: 

1) Understand the Value of Your Information 

Before diving into cybersecurity measures, it's crucial for small business owners to understand what data they have and its value. Identify sensitive data such as customer information, financial records, and intellectual property. Knowing what you need to protect is the first step in creating a solid cybersecurity strategy.

2) Employee Training

One of the weakest links in cybersecurity is often human error. According to Forbes, the most common cybersecurity attacks on small businesses include phishing (57%), stolen devices (33%) and credential theft (30%)—all issues that can be avoided by a trained and careful eye. Teaching your employees to recognize phishing emails, use strong passwords, and avoid clicking on suspicious links is a great place to begin.

3) Regularly Update Software

Outdated software is a common entry point for cybercriminals. In fact, according to a Ponemon Institute study, 57% of cyberattack victims report that their breach could have been avoided by installing an available patch—or in other words, a software update that fixes bugs and vulnerabilities. 

Luckily, when vendors learn of a vulnerability, they typically minimize the threat by rolling out patches, and hopefully in a timely manner. If you have an iPhone, for example, Apple will release operating system (iOS) updates from time to time—and the same goes for all software and applications providers. Ensuring all software, including operating systems, antivirus programs, and applications, are kept up-to-date with the latest security patches is an easy way to avoid a breach. 

4) Strong Passwords and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Set minimum password requirements and require employees to implement MFA, which adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide two or more verification factors before granting access to sensitive information. Most software applications today will offer the option to implement MFA, as it’s one of the best ways to prevent hackers from gaining access to your system should they manage to get ahold of credentials. 

5) Cybersecurity Policies and Incident Response Plan

Develop clear cybersecurity policies and procedures for your organization that include measures like:

  • Acceptable Use — What is considered to be acceptable use of company devices, network and systems? This may include usage guidance for the internet, social media, email and personal devices.
  • Access Control — Define who has access to what level of information in your organization. This may involve assigning administrative privileges to limit access to sensitive information.
  • Data Backups — Describe how data should be regularly backed up and establish procedures for data recovery in the event of data loss or a security incident.
  • Remote Work — If relevant, establish security measures and best practices for employees working remotely, including the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and secure communication tools.
  • Incident Response Plan — Outline the steps to take in case of a security breach, including roles and responsibilities for responding to and reporting incidents. This will help minimize damage and downtime in the event of an attack.

Your cybersecurity policies and procedures will vary based on the nature of your business, but this is a solid place to start—and with the help of a cybersecurity expert, you can build upon this to further build your organization’s defenses. 

In an era where cyber threats are constantly evolving, your small business can’t afford to ignore cybersecurity. By implementing these basic but essential cybersecurity measures, you’ll significantly reduce your risk of data breaches and cyberattacks. Remember that cybersecurity is an ongoing effort—and staying vigilant is key to protecting sensitive data and the reputation of your business.

If you have the basics down, and you’re looking for a more robust approach to cybersecurity, connect with our team of experts today. Together, we’ll build a customized plan to protect your valuable information and business assets. 

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