Who is this blog for?
This blog would be the most beneficial for small business professionals responsible for cyber security. It provides a comprehensive overview of the top 10 common cybersecurity mistakes often made, offering practical advice to any non-technical professional on how to avoid these mistakes and strengthen their cyber security measures.
In this blog, we cover various cybersecurity topics, including the significance of regular software updates, strong passwords, employee education and training, and more.
Read time: 4 minutes 50 seconds
Small and medium-sized businesses often overlook cybersecurity, but it’s essential. Cybercriminals are now targeting SMBs more than ever before. In fact, SMBs are now the prime target for cyber attacks because they often have fewer resources to put towards a resilient security infrastructure.
With fewer resources and protections in place, more than half of all cyber attacks are being targeted towards SMBs, and 60% of them unfortunately go out of business within six months of falling victim to a data breach or hack (Esentire Official Cybercrime Report 2022).
Despite these sobering statistics, many SMBs still believe cyber security is too expensive or difficult to implement. The reality is that cyber security doesn’t have to break the bank. With so many affordable and accessible solutions now available, it’s now just a matter of making sure they are implemented and being used correctly.
Unfortunately, businesses of all sizes are making costly missteps when protecting their digital assets from cyber attackers. In this blog, we’ll explore the top 10 most common cyber security-related mistakes made by small businesses, and how avoiding them can help keep your data safer and more secure than ever before. With these tips in mind, you will be able to move forward into the future with greater confidence while managing the rising risks associated with security threats.
Steer Clear of These Top 10 Common Blunders
Navigating cyber security can feel like a daunting task, especially for small and medium-sized businesses just trying to keep their heads above the digital waters. They often face unique cyber security challenges, many of which stem from common missteps.
Each of these mistakes not only increases the risk of a security incident but can also have far-reaching implications for the business. To shed light on these pitfalls and promote effective cyber security practices, these 10 common mistakes are the ones to watch out for:
1. Skipping on Regular Software Updates
Ignoring regular software updates poses a significant risk to system security. Software updates not only introduce new features but also fix known vulnerabilities that criminals can exploit in outdated software. This means that regular software updates should be seen as a cost-effective and straightforward solution for enhancing security infrastructure.
2. Poor Defences with Weak Password Management
Poor password management is another common contributor to the increased risk of a breach. Weak and reused passwords are often exploited by criminals making it a significant security risk. A strong, unique password combined with multi-factor authentication (MFA) significantly enhances account security. In fact, Microsoft’s recent real-world attack data attests to this, stating MFA reduces the risk of compromised credentials by a staggering 99.2% (Microsoft Digital Defense Report 2023).
3. Overlooking Employee Education and Training
Human error often becomes the weakest link in a company’s security chain, making regular employee training programs pivotal. By relaying knowledge on potential threats, safe online practices, identification of scams and phishing attempts, and the creation of robust passwords, businesses can significantly bolster their defence against attacks. Awareness of social engineering tactics is also a crucial element of this training.
4. Delaying Regular Backups and Recovery Plans
Failing to regularly backup data and establish recovery plans can lead to catastrophic data loss. This can result not only from cyber attacks but also from hardware failures and human errors. Implementing a comprehensive disaster recovery plan, including consistent backups and routine testing, is essential to safeguard critical data.
This becomes especially clear when you look at data from Sophos’ recent ransomware report that found that the median recovery cost using backups was half the cost compared to those that decided to pay a ransom (Sophos The State of Ransomware 2023).
5. Trusting Unsecured Network Connections
Using unsecured networks significantly heightens the risk of sensitive data interception and unauthorised access. A common oversight is not knowing the necessity of secure, encrypted connections. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is crucial when operating remotely, providing a critical layer of protection for organisational data and resources.
6. Disregarding Robust Mobile Device Security
As hybrid and remote work become increasingly prevalent, so too has the use of multiple mobile devices for conducting business. This rise necessitates robust security measures, such as mobile device management (MDM) solutions, to protect against data loss and breaches. These solutions streamline the enforcement of security policies across the company, regardless of whether employees use personal or company devices for their work.
7. Winging It with Cyber Security Policies
Regardless of a business’s size, instituting clear, documented security policies and procedures is crucial. These frameworks give employees explicit directions on handling sensitive data, correct device usage, and security incident responses. This ensures all staff members are informed, aligned, and prepared for potential scenarios.
8. Flying Blind Without a Response Plan
Lacking a response plan is a common mistake that can have serious consequences for businesses of any size. Without a plan in place, businesses may be slow to respond when facing an inevitable cyber security incident, which can lead to increased damage and downtime. This makes having a robust response plan critical. This involves swift and decisive action, clear communication channels, and predetermined isolation and restoration procedures. Without such a plan, recovery becomes a slow, uphill battle.
9. Neglecting Extensive Network Monitoring
Neglecting network monitoring can lead to severe security breaches in small-to-medium businesses. Without a dedicated IT team constantly monitoring networks, threat identification and response could be significantly delayed. For SMBs unable to expand their staff, investing in network monitoring tools or outsourcing monitoring services is a practical solution to ensure swift threat detection and response.
10. Being Oblivious to Emerging Threats and Technologies
In the dynamic landscape of cyber threats, complacency is a company’s worst enemy. It’s essential that businesses stay on top of the latest security advancements and potential threats. Being ill-informed leaves a business vulnerable to modern attacks, potentially causing significant financial and reputational damage.
Ultimately, when it comes to cyber security, knowledge is power. Recognising and avoiding common mistakes, like neglecting regular software updates, weak password management, and overlooking employee education, has now become a priority for all businesses. Remember, cyber security is not just an obligation, but a crucial investment in protecting your valuable assets and ensuring the longevity of your business.
Numerous affordable and accessible solutions are readily available, leaving no room for neglecting your business’s security. Start by avoiding these top 10 common mistakes made by small businesses to enhance the security of your establishment.
Stay vigilant, adapt to the evolving landscape, and together, we all can make the digital world a safer place.