Top 10 Cybersecurity Blunders Small Businesses Should Avoid

Nov 14, 2023 | Cybersecurity, Malware, Ransomware, Security | 0 comments

Small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) may not always see cybersecurity as a pressing concern, often consumed with the day-to-day challenges of growing and operating their business. Many believe their risk of a data breach is minimal, or that cybersecurity measures represent an unaffordable luxury. 

However, the reality is starkly different. Cybersecurity is a critical issue that transcends company size, with small businesses increasingly in the crosshairs of cybercriminals who view them as having more vulnerabilities. 

Alarmingly, 50% of SMBs have already suffered cyberattacks, and the aftermath is grim, with over 60% of these businesses shutting down subsequently. 

Fortunately, cybersecurity doesn’t have to be prohibitively costly. Since human error is at the heart of most data breaches, there’s an upside: enhancing cyber hygiene practices is a cost-effective way to significantly lower the chances of a cyberattack. 

Are You Guilty of These Common Cybersecurity Oversights? 

Pinpointing the problem is the first step toward resolution. Teams at small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) frequently commit cybersecurity errors without recognizing them. Here, we outline the primary missteps that leave small businesses vulnerable to cyber threats. Take a moment to review and consider whether any of these scenarios resonate within your organization. 

  1. Misjudging Their Attractiveness to Hackers:  

Small enterprises frequently miscalculate their appeal to cyber attackers, mistakenly believing they’re insignificant targets. And a lot of entrepreneurs believe their company is not a big enough player to attract cybercriminals… unfortunately this is simply not case. 

In reality, cybercriminals frequently view small businesses as low-hanging fruit. The assumption is that these entities don’t have sufficient defenses or knowledge to stave off attacks. It’s vital to acknowledge that every business, regardless of size, can be on a hacker’s radar. Therefore, adopting a proactive stance on cybersecurity is imperative. 

  1. Overlooking the Importance of Cybersecurity Training:  

Businesses sometimes fail to equip their workforce with the necessary knowledge to identify and prevent cyber threats, such as identifying harmful emails or the value of robust password practices. Business owners often trust their employees to instinctively make the write decisions while navigating the digital space. The issue is that without the proper training, they simply don’t have the knowledge to recognize all of the everchanging threats that are out in the wild. 

However, human error remains a substantial security loophole. Team members can mistakenly engage (we’re talking about a simple click) with harmful links or acquire compromised materials. Educating staff on cybersecurity equips them to: 

– Identify and avoid phishing schemes, 

– Grasp the critical need for robust password creation, 

– Stay vigilant against the manipulative strategies employed by cyber adversaries. 

  1. Settling for Easy Passwords:  

A widespread weakness is the tendency of employees to choose passwords that are too simple or to recycle passwords for multiple services. This can leave your company exposed to attacks. 

Employees reuse passwords 64% of the time. 

Promote the creation of robust, distinct passwords and push for the adoption of multi-factor authentication (MFA) across your systems. MFA introduces an additional safeguard, reinforcing your security posture.  

  1. Disregarding Regular Software Updates:  

Not staying current with software updates can leave systems vulnerable to attackers who exploit these security gaps. Cyber attackers commonly take advantage of existing weaknesses in out-of-date software to infiltrate systems. It’s crucial for small businesses to consistently update their software, remedying any identified security gaps. This encompasses updates to operating systems, internet browsers, and antivirus software. 

  1. Not Having a Robust Data Backup Strategy:  

A formalized backup strategy is often absent in small firms, which puts them at risk of significant data loss from cyberattacks and other disasters. Some businesses operate under the false belief that they’re immune to data loss. However, data loss can stem from multiple sources such as cyberattacks, hardware malfunctions, or simple human mistakes. 

It’s vital to routinely back up your organization’s essential data and conduct tests on these backups to confirm that they can be effectively reinstated if a data loss event occurs. 

  1. Operating Without Defined Security Protocols:  

A lack of detailed security protocols can lead to employees mishandling sensitive information or not knowing how to act during security breaches. Many small enterprises lack defined guidelines and protocols. Without specific written and enforceable security measures, employees might be unaware of essential practices. This includes managing sensitive information, securing company devices, and reacting to security breaches. 

To mitigate this, small businesses must develop and institute formal security strategies and communicate them clearly to all team members. These guidelines should encompass password management, data stewardship, reporting procedures for incidents, the security of remote operations, among other pertinent security concerns. 

  1. Overlooking the Security of Mobile Devices:  

With the increase in mobile device usage for business, the security of these devices is critical but often neglected. Implement Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools to uphold security protocols on both company-owned and personal devices that are utilized for work purposes. 

  1. Neglecting Continuous Network Monitoring:  

Small businesses sometimes do not monitor their network traffic for irregularities, which could delay the discovery of security breaches. Incorporate tools for monitoring your network or consider engaging third-party services for network surveillance. These measures can assist your business in quickly detecting and addressing potential security threats. 

  1. Having No Predefined Plan for Cyber Incidents:  

The absence of a contingency plan can lead to disorganized and ineffective responses to cyber incidents, increasing the damage incurred.  

Develop a detailed incident response strategy that delineates the specific actions to follow in the event of a security breach. This plan should clearly define communication protocols, containment processes, and establish a definitive hierarchy of response leadership. 

  1. Assuming They Don’t Need Professional IT Support:  

Some small businesses believe they’re too small for professional IT services, but this can leave them unprepared for the continuously changing cybersecurity threats. Many small businesses struggle to stay abreast of technological advances and often consider themselves “too small” to invest in managed IT services. 

However, managed IT solutions are available in a variety of scales, including options tailored for small business budgets. A Managed Service Provider (MSP) can not only bolster your cybersecurity defenses but also enhance cost efficiency by streamlining your IT operations. 

Simply put, keeping up with the technology that you use within your business is critical to the success of your business.  The problem is, you are an expert at your business, but it’s very unlikely that you’re an expert in the issues related to keeping the technology you use in your business.  That where we come in… don’t hesitate to call us. 

The takeaway is that cybersecurity is crucial for all businesses, regardless of size. Enhancing cybersecurity practices through actions like consistent updates, enforcing complex passwords, and educating employees can significantly mitigate the risk of cyberattacks. Additionally, it is advisable for small businesses to consider professional IT services that can be scaled to fit smaller budgets and provide robust cybersecurity support. If any of these 10 points caught your eye, or caused to take a pause to think about your risks, give BizTek Connection a call.  We can do a risk assessment and give you the details.