How to Improve Your Business’s Cybersecurity on a Budget
Cybersecurity tools and services are essential to protect any modern business from sophisticated cybersecurity threats. However, they’re not the only way businesses can improve their cybersecurity posture. There are many steps you can take to protect the information stored and shared in your business network. The processes outlined in this article can be implemented with minimal cost and provide powerful protection against many types of cyberattacks.
1. Train Your Employees
Even the strongest firewalls and cybersecurity software may not be able to protect your network against user error. Approximately 88% of all data breaches are caused by an employee mistake. When employees open phishing emails, practice unsafe browsing practices, or click on unknown links, they can invite attackers into the network. Such breaches can lead to data theft or other attacks like ransomware.
Without adequate training, employees are unlikely to be aware of the threat. By teaching employees best practices for preventing breaches and protecting sensitive data, you can decrease the frequency of employee errors.
The US Small Business Administration recommends covering these topics.
- How to spot phishing emails
- Good internet browsing practices
- How to avoid suspicious downloads
- Enabling authentication tools
- Protecting sensitive information
2. Enable Multi-Factor Authentication
Stolen credentials are one of the most effective tools for attackers seeking ways to access your network data. In many business networks, the theft of a single password can allow entry into the system. While masquerading as a legitimate user, an attacker can then move through the system and increase user permissions to launch a bigger attack.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a security process that requires users to provide two or more forms of user ID (like password, PIN, verification code, fingerprint, or facial recognition). By requiring a second, lesser-known entry condition, attackers are less likely to breach the system. It’s now widely known that the lack of MFA provided attackers with easy access to carry out the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline.
3. Change Email Default Settings
By nature, email is optimized for convenient communication. Unfortunately, prioritizing convenience can mean sacrificing security. In 2021, 96% of businesses were targeted by an email-related phishing attempt. The following year, 75% of companies experienced an increase in email-based threats.
Still, most businesses fail to make basic protective changes to email defaults. For example, most email accounts have auto-forward features turned on by default. By disabling this one feature, you can prevent attackers from hacking a user’s mailbox and forwarding emails to an outside address to steal information.
4. Implement and Enforce Password Rules
Strong passwords are one of the first lines of defense against breaches. Yet, the password “123456” is currently used by more than 23 million people. With strict password rules in place, you can prevent employees from using hastily entered passwords that are easy to guess.
Educate employees about what makes a strong password (long passwords with a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols). Follow up the learning process by implementing strong password rules for all organizational accounts. Routinely enforce password rules to ensure they’re being used.
5. Apply Updates and Patches Immediately
Hackers are always seeking new ways to breach business networks. To do this efficiently, they target vulnerabilities in commonly used business software applications. However, most vulnerabilities can be fixed before hackers are aware they exist.
Software developers constantly analyze and update software offerings to eliminate bugs and vulnerabilities. Known vulnerabilities are flaws that have already been discovered in a program and for which developers have already released a patch or update. As soon as these updates or patches are applied, the software no longer presents a vulnerability. Unfortunately, many individuals and businesses put off applying upgrades and patches, leaving their systems vulnerable to attack.
Your organization’s cybersecurity posture depends on safe practices by network users. By integrating cybersecurity best practices into daily tasks and workflows, you can identify potential threats and stop attacks before they can damage your system.