Is Your Business’s Cybersecurity Haunted by Hidden Skeletons?
Disney has released its latest movie, Haunted Mansion, in time to entertain the kids during the September school holidays. And if you’re like me growing up in Melbourne, going to see a scary movie wasn’t the only haunted experience you could have. For generations, riding the Ghost Train at Luna Park was terrifying when I was younger. This ride with its ghastly ghouls petrified me…but enjoying a chocolate ice cream on Acland Street afterward was always worth the spooky train trip. These days, the only nightmares we experience daily are poor cybersecurity impacting local small-and-medium businesses (SMBs). In this article, we explore the critical aspects of cybersecurity that can impact your business and provide valuable tips to help you stay safe (and keep those skeletons locked away).
Avoid the nightmare, update your software
One of the most common and easily overlooked cybersecurity vulnerabilities for SMBs is outdated software. While keeping your software up-to-date might seem like a chore, it is vital for your business’s security. Software updates often include essential security patches that address vulnerabilities that cybercriminals could exploit. Neglecting these updates is comparable to leaving the doors to your digital fortress unlocked, inviting hackers to wreak havoc.
To protect your business:
- Establish a regular software update schedule to make sure that all your applications and systems are up to date.
- Consider implementing automated update mechanisms to streamline the process and reduce the risk of oversight.
- Educate your employees about the importance of timely software updates and their role in maintaining cybersecurity.
Skeleton key for cybercriminals is weak passwords
Weak passwords are a persistent security risk that companies should not underestimate. Using easily guessable passwords like “123456” or “password” is the equivalent of handing over your office keys to cybercriminals. Hackers regularly employ brute-force attacks and password-cracking techniques to exploit weak passwords, gaining unauthorised access to your business’s sensitive data and systems.
To fortify your defences:
- Encourage strong and unique passwords for all user accounts and devices within your organisation.
- Promote using password managers to generate and securely store complex passwords.
- Implement password policies that mandate a combination of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters.
WiFi: A ghostly gateway to cyber threats
Imagine a cybercriminal parked outside your business premises, exploiting your unsecured Wi-Fi network to intercept sensitive data. This scenario is more common than you might think and can have severe consequences for your business. Unsecured Wi-Fi can serve as a ghostly gateway for hackers to infiltrate your network, compromise devices, and steal valuable information.
To secure your Wi-Fi network:
- Make sure that your Wi-Fi network is protected by a strong, unique password.
- Utilise advanced encryption protocols like WPA2 or WPA3 to safeguard data transmitted over your network.
- Consider implementing a virtual private network (VPN) for critical business tasks to shield your data from prying eyes, especially when connecting to public networks.
Untrained employees unmask a haunting security gap
Your employees can be your business’s greatest defence or its weakest link regarding cybersecurity. Employee error is responsible for approximately 88% of all data breaches. Without proper cybersecurity training, your staff might unknowingly fall victim to phishing scams, inadvertently expose sensitive information, or engage in risky online behaviour.
To enhance employee cybersecurity awareness:
- Regularly educate your team about cybersecurity, best practices threats, and safe online behaviour.
- Provide training on recognising phishing emails, avoiding suspicious websites, and using secure file-sharing methods.
- Establish clear guidelines and policies for reporting security incidents and potential threats.
Data backup neglect: A cryptic catastrophe
Imagine waking up to find your business’s data gone, vanished into the digital abyss. Without proper data backups, this nightmare can become a reality due to hardware failures, ransomware attacks, or unforeseen disasters. Data loss can have catastrophic consequences, including financial losses and damage to your reputation.
To protect your data:
- Embrace the 3-2-1 rule for data backups. To do this, maintain at least three copies of your data on two different media types, with one copy stored securely offsite.
- Regularly test your backups to make sure they are functional and reliable.
- Consider automated backup solutions that simplify the process and continuously protect data.
Gambling on security: No multi-factor authentication (MFA)
Relying solely on passwords to protect your accounts is asking for trouble. Implementing Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of protection. It can require users to provide additional authentication factors, such as a one-time code or passkey. Multi-factor authentication makes it significantly harder for cyber attackers to breach your accounts, even if they have the correct password.
To enhance your account security:
- Enable MFA wherever possible, especially for sensitive accounts and systems.
- Educate your employees about the importance of MFA and guide them through the setup process.
Haunted mobile phones with security risks
Mobile devices have become indispensable work tools, but they can also be haunted by security risks. To protect your business, it’s essential to pay attention to mobile security. Make sure that all company-issued mobile devices have passcodes or biometric locks enabled. Consider implementing mobile device management (MDM) solutions to enforce security policies, remotely, wipe data, and make sure devices stay up to date.
A spooky surprise with shadow IT
Shadow IT refers to using unauthorised applications and services within your business. While it might seem harmless when employees use convenient tools they find online, these unvetted applications can pose serious security risks. They may lack the necessary security measures and expose your business to vulnerabilities.
To mitigate shadow IT risks:
- Develop a clear policy for using software and services within your organisation.
- Regularly audit your systems and networks to uncover any shadow IT lurking beneath the surface.
Failing to plan for a horror event
Even with all preventive measures in place, security incidents can still happen. Without an incident response plan, an attack can leave your business scrambling to recover, leading to further damage and potential data breaches.
To prepare for security incidents:
- Develop a comprehensive incident response plan that outlines key items, including how your team will detect, respond to, and recover from security incidents.
- Regularly test and update the incident response plan to guarantee its effectiveness.
Ghostbusters or ‘Threatbusters’…either way, you probably need to improve your cybersecurity
Don’t allow critical security vulnerabilities to lurk in the shadows of your Melbourne business any longer. We’re here to extinguish cyber threats and help you take proactive action providing a robust security posture. Contact us to schedule a comprehensive cybersecurity assessment and provide a strategy tailored to your business.
About the author
Yener is the founder and Managing Director of Intuitive IT. Prior to running his own business Yener worked for a number of corporate organisations where he gained invaluable experience and skills, as well as an understanding of how IT can complement and improve business outcomes.