By Maricel Tabalba

Cybersecurity is a critical issue for any business owner, and modern businesses face an ever-evolving threat when it comes to keeping themselves and their customers protected. In fact, studies project that cybercrime could cost businesses a staggering two trillion dollars by the year 2019. It’s become a digital epidemic, and businesses that aren’t properly prepared leave themselves open to dire consequences. Fortunately, you don’t need the million-dollar budget of an international corporation in order to stay protected. Implementing the common-sense tips below will go a long way toward boosting your business’ cybersecurity no matter your budget.

Stay Ahead of the Threat
The digital space is constantly growing and evolving, and so too are the risks to your business. For that reason, effective cybersecurity protection requires sustained watchfulness and effort. To keep your data protected, you need to stay ahead of the situation by always striving to identify new threats, seek out both digital and physical vulnerabilities in your security systems and be aware of the various motivations a hacker might have for targeting your business. Studies have indicated that it takes an average of four months for companies to identify and fix security vulnerabilities, which is simply far too long. Keep your company ahead of the curve through constant vigilance.

Budget Wisely
Quality cybersecurity can be an expensive proposition, and many small businesses are tempted to make cuts to their budget in order to save costs. Don’t let your company be one of them. While reducing your security budget may result in a short-term gain, it could put your business and its customers at tremendous risk. Instead, review your budget and seek ways to use the money more efficiently rather than cutting it entirely. Another financial consideration is choosing the right business credit card. Business credit cards are popular targets for criminals, so be sure to look for cards that offer advanced fraud protection features.

Implement Security Protocols
The greatest vulnerability in your cybersecurity system likely has nothing to do with your hardware or software – it’s the people who use them. In order to ensure the highest level of protection, make sure that you’ve developed and implemented a policy of cybersecurity best practices.

By training your employees in security best practices, you’ll give them the tools they need to identify potential threats and respond to them appropriately. Also keep in mind that this needs to be an ongoing effort, with periodic refreshers to help employees stay up to date on the latest threats and security measures.

Use the Cloud
Cloud storage is an excellent way to keep your company’s data safe and secure, and it can also simplify storage and sharing for your employees. If you’re considering a move to the cloud, however, it’s critical that you choose an appropriate platform. Use a solution intended specifically for businesses and ensure that they offer standard features like firewalls, multifactor authentication, and data encryption services. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about where and how your data will be stored, who will have access to it and whether the provider conducts routine security audits. Your data is extremely valuable, so it pays to do your due diligence to make sure you identify the best cloud provider for your needs.

Keep Your Software Updated
From antivirus software to cloud storage apps and web browsers, it’s critical that any software your business uses is kept up to date. Security exploits are being constantly identified and patched, but you won’t be able to take advantage of these protections if your software isn’t routinely updated to the newest stable versions. Automatic updates are useful but may not work quickly enough, so incorporate routine update checks into your security protocols. If support for any of your software is ever discontinued, consider switching to an alternative as quickly as you can. Remember that, when it comes to digital security, time is rarely on your side.

Use the Tools at Your Disposal
If you’re working under a tight cybersecurity budget, one way to improve your security is by making use of all the tools at your disposal. In particular, SSL optimization tools can help you manage your security more effectively without straining your budget or overtaxing yourself. A certificate checker can automatically detect all of the SSL certificates that are active on your network, reviewing them and providing useful reports on their health and status. Similarly, a certificate monitoring tool can allow you or your admin to detect any suspicious activity and prevent unauthorized SSL issuance. Best of all, these tools can often be found for free and are quick and easy to use.

Cybercrime has become one of the primary threats facing today’s businesses, and your company is not immune no matter its size. The threat is constantly evolving, and addressing the problem requires vigilance and active engagement. To keep your business and its customers safe without overextending your security budget, ensure that you’ve implemented the simple, affordable steps above.

About the Author
Maricel Tabalba is a freelance contributor for Credit.com who is interested in writing about personal finance advice for Millennials and college students. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Communication from the University of Illinois at Chicago.