What Does Your Small Business Cybersecurity Budget Need in 2023?by@zacamos
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What Does Your Small Business Cybersecurity Budget Need in 2023?

by Zac AmosDecember 16th, 2022
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Small businesses need to take action to protect their networks and data from cybercrime. When budgeting for 2023, there are five security essentials they should start with: a professional risk assessment, a high-quality wireless router, cybersecurity training for employees, reliable antivirus software, and up-to-date hardware.
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Small business owners may think their business is less of a target to hackers because it isn’t a multi-million-dollar enterprise. However, hackers know that small businesses have less money to spend on cybersecurity, making them easier to hack successfully.

Small businesses need to take action to protect their networks and data from cybercrime, which requires a smart cybersecurity budget.

While small businesses may not have a lot of money to invest in cybersecurity, a few key investments can go a long way toward making their network more resilient.

5 Small Business Cybersecurity Essentials

Where should small business owners direct the funds they have for cybersecurity? With less money to spend compared to a large enterprise, small business owners have to be strategic with their cybersecurity investments. There are five security essentials they should start with.

1. A Professional Risk Assessment

A professional risk assessment should be the first thing in any small business’s cybersecurity budget. Lack of visibility or awareness can be a serious vulnerability for any company.

In order to direct cybersecurity funds effectively, small business owners need to know the current state of their cybersecurity risks.

A professional, third-party risk assessment will deliver an analysis of a few key elements of a business’s cyber profile. These elements include a business’s most valuable assets, the main cyber threats facing the business, a business’s cyber vulnerabilities, the potential consequences of a cyberattack, and the likelihood of a cyberattack.

The results of the risk assessment will allow small businesses to make the most of the cybersecurity funds they have. Small businesses don’t usually have the large security budgets of enterprises, so they have to make sure they’re choosing their security investments wisely.

2. A High-Quality Wireless Router

The wireless router is a commonly overlooked part of a business’s cybersecurity defenses. The router is especially important for small businesses since it acts as the primary line of defense around their network.

Most routers today have the firewall baked in, so a high-quality router is crucial to protecting any small business from cyber threats.

In addition to investing in an up-to-date router, small business owners need to make sure they are setting up their router and network properly. All routers come with a default password, but that password is usually weak and often reused by the manufacturer.

Small businesses need to regularly change their router password and always use something complex with a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols.

Finally, small business owners should set up network segmentation on their routers and wireless networks. Make sure the new router supports this function. Network segmentation allows business owners to isolate high-value assets, devices, and data on a secure branch of their wireless network.

One simple way to do this is to set up a guest network, a feature that most consumer routers have. This open network can be used for higher traffic and less-valuable activities, such as customer Wi-Fi connections.

3. Cybersecurity Training for Employees

Employees are a critical link in any business’s cybersecurity defenses. Small businesses may not have many employees, but that only makes each individual employee that much more important.

Running frequent cybersecurity training sessions for employees is crucial for ensuring they are aware of cyber threats and know how to help keep the business safe.

This is especially important today because phishing attempts are the most common way in which hackers launch ransomware attacks. They specifically target unsuspecting employees, such as with a fake email from their “boss” that contains a malicious link.

The employee opens the link, accidentally allowing the hacker’s malicious code to infect the business’s network.

Regular IT and cybersecurity training will ensure that employees understand the main signs of a phishing attack and the business’s cybersecurity risks. No matter how few employees a small business has, investing in them is crucial for cyber resiliency.

4. Reliable Antivirus Software

Trustworthy antivirus software is a must-have for small businesses. This is an essential tool in any business’s cyber defenses. Some small businesses may skip antivirus software to save some money, opting to use a Mac or simply rely on the minimal cybersecurity of Windows Defender.

However, this is a mistake that small businesses cannot afford to make.

Not all antivirus programs are created equal. Some may receive more frequent updates to protect against emerging threats. Certain developers are known for thoroughly testing their programs against as many known threats as possible.

There are a few top antivirus programs that small businesses should stick to that are known to be trustworthy and effective.

Investing in a good antivirus program is a classic case of “better safe than sorry.” Small businesses can’t afford to risk going without reliable antivirus, which could stop a ransomware attack in its tracks and potentially save thousands of dollars and gigabytes of valuable data.

5. Up-to-Date Hardware

Small business owners often want to get the most value possible out of their devices. Financially, it makes sense to use an old laptop as long as it still works.

Unfortunately, this habit is a serious cybersecurity vulnerability. Small businesses need to consider investing some of their cybersecurity budget in new devices.

While few businesses need to buy new computers every single year, it is important to invest in new hardware every three to five years. Hackers will gladly take advantage of outdated hardware and exploit weaknesses in old operating systems.

There are several major risks to using outdated software and hardware. For example, manufacturers eventually stop releasing updates for old computers and software programs, meaning these devices and programs are using outdated security data.

This also means these devices and programs are not getting patches to fix bugs or weaknesses, which hackers can easily exploit.

Older operating systems that aren’t getting updates anymore are also easier for hackers to master. The OS isn’t changing, so they can learn every weakness it has and reliably leverage that in cyberattacks without worrying about new security updates.

So, small businesses need to keep their software programs up to date as well as their devices. As soon as the manufacturer stops releasing operating system or device updates, it is time to invest in an upgrade.

Set aside some money in the cybersecurity budget every year for replacing devices or programs.

Small Business Cybersecurity Budgeting Tips

Now that small business owners know what they should be investing in, how should they go about actually creating their cybersecurity budget?

The first thing to do is determine exactly how much money is available for investing in cybersecurity. Having a small security budget doesn’t necessarily mean a business is more vulnerable – simply that it needs to be more strategic about how security funds are spent.

Once the total security funds have been determined, identify the highest-priority security investment. This is typically the most glaring cybersecurity weakness the business has. What weakness is leaving the business most vulnerable to a cyberattack?

Small business owners who don’t know the answer should consider prioritizing a risk assessment, which will get them on the right track.

After this number-one priority is identified and accounted for in the budget, work through the next-highest priority item. For instance, a professional risk assessment might be the first thing a small business invests in.

The risk assessment reveals that their server infrastructure is severely outdated and lacks modern security features. Investing in new servers or switching to cloud storage should be the next thing the business budgets for.

Continue selecting security investments by prioritizing the most severe risks until the budget is fully accounted for. While small businesses may not have money for every single cybersecurity tool, this budgeting strategy ensures that they have the most important investments covered.

Easy Cybersecurity Budgeting for Small Businesses

Small businesses are just as big a target for hackers today as large enterprises, so they need to take action to defend themselves. The key investments above should be included in any small business’s cybersecurity budget.

While small businesses may not have millions of dollars to spend on security, they can still build strong defenses around their business network by investing in versatile, tried-and-true cybersecurity tools.