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5 security bolstering strategies that won't break the bank

Stacy Collett | July 9, 2013
Some are quick, cheap and often free! Others require a little more time and critical thinking. Read on for five ways to plump your security program without going broke

Today's security threats span a broad spectrum of social engineering schemes, international hackers, and insider threats like the recent NSA breach. It's easy to get overwhelmed by all of the potential threats and where money should be spent to keep up, let alone stay ahead of the curve.

"Security functions are getting only 70 percent of the resources that they need to do an adequate job" of securing the business, including hardware, software, services and staff, said Michael Versace, insights director of worldwide risk at IDC. "The hard stuff is in the next 30 percent."

Meanwhile, worldwide spending on security infrastructure, including software, services and network security appliances used to secure enterprise, rose to $60 billion in 2012, up 8.4 percent from $55 billion in 2011, according to Gartner Inc. That number is expected to hit $86 billion by 2016.

Security experts offer five tips for enhancing security that don't cost a lot of cash — and sometimes no money at all — so companies can spend their security dollars on the hard stuff.

1. Patch security holes and identify vulnerabilities
Three of the top 10 botnets reported in February 2013 were more than 8 years old, according to Fortiguard Labs, the threat-researching arm of network security firm Fortinet Inc. in Sunnyvale, Calif. In the most successful attacks, the majority of those threats had been identified and fixed by vendors years earlier, said Derek Manky, global security strategist. Companies need to keep patches up to date.

"We see this time and time again," Manky said. "There are always software security flaws that hackers go after, and that's how they get into systems — through attachments or a link to a website that got somebody infected. That usually happens through search engines like Firefox, Internet Explore, Java, Flash, Adobe Reader and Mozilla. So apply your patches, at least to these top targets."

At a deeper dive, inexpensive vulnerability identification software will probe your systems looking for security holes and will help identify possible solutions.

2. Install your free firewall and antivirus upgrades
A lot of people don't realize their basic support contracts with most vendors for support, firewalls and antivirus include free upgrades, said Andy Hubbard, senior security consultant at Neohapsis, a security services firm in Chicago.

"If you don't have a strategy to revisit what the available technology is that you've already paid for, then you're missing out on a lot of new features and enhancements" that could prevent a security breach, Hubbard said. "It only takes your effort to do the research. Call your vendor and revisit our firewall and antivirus solution contracts."

3. Keep up with BYOD
Personal devices in the business environment are here to stay. Yet 79 percent of businesses had a mobile security incident in the past year, ranging from malicious apps downloaded to a mobile device to unsecure Wi-Fi connections to lack of security patches from services providers, according to a June mobile security report by Check Point Software Technologies. These mobile security incidents cost companies between $100,000 and $500,000 in staff time, legal fees and resolution processes.


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