October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which means that companies are once again surveying the threat landscape. They can’t like what they see.
By July 2021, threat actors attempted more than 304 million ransomware attacks, surpassing the 2020 total just halfway through the year. At the same time, the number of phishing scams is soaring, and the cost of a data breach is more expensive than ever before, reaching $4.24 million, according to the most recent industry study.
Of course, companies are facing these challenges even as they navigate continued economic uncertainty and newly hybrid teams, both of which make cybersecurity more challenging.
This year’s annual Cybersecurity Awareness Month encourages companies to #BeCyberSmart by developing awareness and defensive capacity to respond to the most pressing cybersecurity challenges facing today’s companies and communities.
For leaders looking to enhance their cybersecurity capacity without making an enormous financial investment, here are four cost-effective cybersecurity solutions to enhance your defensive posture today.
#1 Employee Monitoring Software
While cybersecurity often conjures images of nefarious threat actors operating from disparate locations on the other side of the world, one of the most significant threats is often lurking in the next cubicle. Employees, vendors, contractors, and suppliers with access to an organization’s IT infrastructure are classified as insiders, and they pose an increasingly prominent threat to cybersecurity.
According to Verizon’s most recent industry report, 85 percent of data breaches involve a “human element,” as company insiders compromise data integrity with frightening regularity. The human element often includes careless or unaware insider actions, but malicious insider attacks have increased by more than 45 percent since 2018.
Employee monitoring software, which nearly 80 percent of companies offering remote work adopted during the pandemic, can mitigate the risk of an insider causing a significant cybersecurity incident. By harnessing existing employee monitoring software to improve cybersecurity security capabilities, companies can address a significant risk without increasing spending.
#2 Staff Awareness & Prevention Training
Today’s expansive threat landscape makes cybersecurity an all-in priority at every company. In other words, businesses need to do more than just hire a cybersecurity specialist or install security software. They need to train employees in threat awareness and prevention best practices.
For instance, it’s estimated that 97 percent of people can’t identify a sophisticated phishing attack. Meanwhile, one industry survey found that nearly 80 percent of respondents admitted to engaging in at least one risk activity in the past year. In addition, employees are notoriously bad at updating or randomizing their account passwords, and many struggle to differentiate between personal and professional technologies.
These behaviors put cybersecurity at risk, and staff awareness and prevention training is a low-cost way to immediately strengthen in-house cybersecurity protocols.
#3 Two-factor Authentication
Billions of account credentials were stolen and distributed in the past several years, and each one threatens a company’s IT integrity. Microsoft alone reports more than 300 million fraudulent sign-in attempts to its cloud services every day. Fortunately, the company notes, 99.9 percent of those attacks are thwarted by a single, simple cybersecurity feature: two-factor authentication.
This account setting requires employees to verify their identity using an authenticator app or other connection point before accessing their account. It’s an effective cybersecurity solution that keeps accounts secure, even when login credentials are stolen or misused.
It also doesn’t require any investment to access and implement. In most cases, two-factor authentication is an account setting that just needs to be activated, something businesses should make mandatory on all company-facing accounts.
#4 Regularly Updating Software
In a rapidly shifting threat landscape, software developers are constantly updating their products in response to newly-discovered vulnerabilities or new attack methodologies. Unfortunately, many organizations fail to prioritize software updates, leaving their systems vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks.
It doesn’t cost anything for companies to update their software, but it’s an essential part of maintaining good digital hygiene that keeps their digital infrastructure secure. Enable automatic updates whenever possible, and encourage employees to manually check for updates with regularity.
This Cybersecurity Awareness Month, companies will work to #BeCyberSmart. That doesn’t mean they have to exhaust their financial resources to meet the urgent need to protect their digital environment. These cost-effective cybersecurity solutions can significantly enhance an organization’s defensive capabilities at a time when their viability and sustainability depend on it.