The new year is here, which means a lot of people are thinking about their resolutions. They might decide to join a gym, lose weight, or quit smoking to improve their lives in the coming year. Unfortunately, many New Year's resolutions can be challenging to maintain if there isn't an actionable plan to make them happen. In fact, it's not uncommon to simply give up on them altogether if it takes too long to see results. 

One New Year's resolution all small-business owners should commit to is making their organization more cybersecure. This might sound extremely ambitious, but it's actually more doable than you might think. Although there are some long-term initiatives that should be part of your company's cybersecurity plan, there are also smaller actions you can take to improve your company's cybersecurity posture. And, best of all, this New Year's resolution delivers immediate benefits.

Here are three simple ways business owners can get a head start on cybersecurity and help make their organizations more secure in the new year.

1. Implement a password manager for companywide use

Businesses that allow employees to create their own passwords for company accounts are putting their sensitive data at risk. In fact, 90 percent of user-generated passwords are insecure and vulnerable to hackers.

Requiring all employees to use a password manager can help secure company accounts and combat the risk of cyberattacks. A password manager is an automated tool that generates complex, tough-to-crack passwords and stores them for users. Implementing a password manager is a quick, user-friendly process that will immediately boost your company's security. 

It's also important to explain to your employees that reusing passwords can put their accounts at risk and to instruct them to generate different passwords for each one of their company accounts.

2. Provide security awareness training

Some of the most significant cybersecurity threats to businesses come from within the organizations themselves. In fact, employee error plays a role in 60 percent of data breaches. For this reason, it's essential to provide security awareness training to all employees.

Security awareness training is a simple and relatively inexpensive way to educate employees on key cybersecurity principles, such as how to recognize and avoid common threats, the importance of strong passwords, and the risks of unsecured devices (like personal smartphones). In addition, security awareness training is a great way for organizations to provide an overview of important corporate security policies regarding company technology and platforms. This helps ensure employees feel confident using company technology, and also helps instill a culture of cybersecurity preparedness. 

3. Set plug-ins, themes, and platform installations to update automatically

Making sure your business website plug-ins, themes, and platform installations are regularly updated is an essential cybersecurity practice. This is because many of these updates address security vulnerabilities that are putting your website at risk. Since it can be time-consuming to stay on top of these updates, using set-it-and-forget-it cybersecurity measures is an effective way to help you manage this process.

Automated cybersecurity solutions, such as website scanners, require very little time to implement but deliver big payoffs when it comes to cybersecurity. For example, your risk of being infected with malware increases with the number of plug-ins you have. SiteLock research indicates that WordPress websites with 20 or more plug-ins are 5.8 percent more likely to be infected with malware than the average WordPress site. In addition, the most common way for hackers to infiltrate WordPress sites is by taking advantage of out-of-date plug-ins. 

By using website scanning tools and other automated solutions, you won't have to worry about keeping up with your website updates, and you'll be able to secure your digital storefront more effectively. 

Cybersecurity can seem like a complicated and overwhelming topic, but it doesn't require expensive long-term initiatives in order to protect your business. Just taking a few simple steps can greatly benefit organizations of any size. 

Remember that no business is too small to think about cybersecurity, and there are many affordable tools that small-business owners can use to keep their companies safe. After taking a few small steps toward implementing a cybersecurity plan, the larger components will seem far more manageable. By starting small and reaping the benefits, you'll be even more motivated to follow through on your resolution to secure your organization in the new year.  

Published on: Jan 8, 2020
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.