6 Cybersecurity Mistakes That Small Businesses Make Way Too Often

Cybersecurity Mistakes That Small Businesses

Cyber attacks in 2022 have shown that large corporations aren’t the only targets for hackers. Small businesses are also falling victim to cybercrime every day. They may not sound as lucrative financially, but they often lack the security capabilities of a larger company, making them easier to hack.

Since small businesses rarely have dedicated security staff and procedures, they often make simple cybersecurity mistakes that expose them to various attacks. This article will share some of the most common cybersecurity mistakes small businesses make.

Not taking password security seriously

Even Fortune 500 companies still use easy-to-breach passwords, so you can imagine how things are with small businesses. Businesses continue to use weak passwords, mainly out of laziness and convenience.

Even if it’s the only thing you do security-wise, setting strong passwords will significantly reduce your business’s chances of getting hacked. The reason is simple: hackers will have to be more skilled to find a way to breach your accounts instead of brute-forcing their way to guess your password.

Invest in a password manager if you find it challenging to manage difficult passwords for all your accounts. It’s a much better investment than paying a lot more to recover from a cyber attack. Contrary to popular opinion, a large percentage of cyber attacks happen when VPNs are used. Hackers can find a leaked password and access a company’s IT systems through an old, inactive VPN account. Without proper access controls, there is no way to manage inactive VPN accounts or disable them once an account has expired or is no longer in use. Therefore, if you require an impenetrable layer of protection for work, you can replace your VPN. Some of the most common choices when replacing VPNs are efficient alternatives like identity and access management, privileged access management, third-party security platforms, and Zero Trust network access.

Not installing software updates

Software vulnerabilities are a common way hackers manage to orchestrate attacks successfully. These vulnerabilities are abundant in older versions of software that businesses use. The goal of a software update isn’t just to improve the software’s functionalities but also to address known security bugs and vulnerabilities.

If you’re using old systems and software versions, you’re opening your business up to all sorts of risks and possible ways a hacker can get inside your network.

Make a habit of updating all software you use. This may include:

  • CRM tools;
  • WordPress;
  • Operating systems, etc.

To make it easier, enable automatic updates whenever possible.

Having no security awareness among employees

Social engineering tactics rely on human error to successfully infiltrate an organization. Small business employees often lack security awareness and act irresponsibly when handling emails and sensitive work-related accounts and data.

Real-life cybercrime isn’t what you see in the movies. Advanced malware and exploits exist, but they aren’t the main source of danger, especially for small businesses. Small businesses need to focus on security training for employees that will stop them from making common cybersecurity mistakes.

If an employee can recognize a malicious email and thinks twice before clicking on random links or attachments, the business is much better off security-wise.

Failing to create backups of critical data

All business data related to customers is critical and a prime target for hackers. Small businesses also keep records of customers and other sensitive data on employees, vendors, etc.

So, what happens if some of that data is lost, or even worse, stolen or taken for ransom? Not only will it cost a lot to recover, but it may also cause reputational damage to the business.

That’s why having one or more backups for critical data is vital. You never know if a software malfunction or security breach will delete your data. Instead of keeping your vendor information on software, extract it and have it on a hard drive as well. 

Not having a cyber incident plan

Understandably, a cyber incident plan is far down on the list of a small business owner’s worries. But having no cyber incident plan is irresponsible. Facing a cyber incident without a plan can result in more time to recover – time during which the business may not even be able to function normally.

One of the main priorities is figuring out how to operate despite a breach. After all, if the business is stuck, it isn’t making any money.

Small businesses don’t need to have elaborate plans for every type of cyber incident. Knowing how to prevent a breach from spreading throughout all systems and knowing who to call for assistance can make a huge difference.

Failing to secure their WiFi networks

This is a mistake commonly made by cafes or other public-facing small businesses. They set up a network and open it up to the public without any protection. No matter the business, the internal network where all employees communicate must be properly secured.

The first thing to do is change the default username and password for the router. This will prevent anyone from making changes to the network just by knowing the IP address. Another best practice is to not give the WiFi network the same name as the business so as to not give it away.

The network should be encrypted with the strongest protocol. At the moment, that’s WPA3. Another important aspect of network security is ensuring that all devices connected to it are properly secured as well.

Final thoughts

Cyber attacks can happen to any business, regardless of size. Small businesses are perhaps even more vulnerable because they lack the resources to have all the necessary security measures. 

However, protecting a small business from cyber threats isn’t just about money. It comes down to doing the little things right and having a plan for when things go wrong.

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