Top 10 Cybersecurity Mistakes To Avoid
Running a small business in the suburbs of Melbourne may seem a mile away from the corporate buildings that dominate our CBD skyline. You frequently work long hours, often driving in heavy traffic through endless ‘big builds’ and worrying about cash flow.
It’s understandable to think you are not a target for cyber crooks looking for their next victim. The media is full of stories of large companies like Medibank and Optus being attacked, not Jones Plumbing in Moonee Ponds.
However, lax cybersecurity practices are often the root cause of most breaches. Poor security measures are particularly pronounced when dealing with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Owners of small businesses frequently fail to give due importance to cybersecurity measures for a range of reasons. For many, they are focused on growing their business. Other business owners assume they have a lower risk of data breaches or consider it an expense they cannot afford.
Nonetheless, cybersecurity is not exclusively a concern for large companies but also a critical issue for Melbourne’s small businesses. Due to their vulnerabilities, small companies are appealing targets for cybercriminals.
A staggering 50% of SMEs have fallen victim to cyberattacks, and over 60% have ceased their operations.
The good news is that cybersecurity need not be prohibitively expensive. Most data breaches result from human error, which offers improvement opportunities. Enhancing cyber hygiene can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to an attack.
Is your business making any of these cybersecurity errors?
Let’s highlight some primary reasons small business owners fall prey to cyberattacks.
1. Miscalculating the threat
One of SMEs’ most common cybersecurity errors is underestimating the threat landscape. Many business owners assume their company needs to be more significant to be a target. However, this is a risky misconception.
Cybercriminals frequently view small businesses as vulnerable targets, perceiving them to lack the resources or expertise required to defend against attacks. It is vital to comprehend that your small business is large enough to attract the attention of cybercriminals. Proactive cybersecurity measures are imperative.
2. Ignoring employee training
When was the last time you provided cybersecurity training to your employees? Small businesses often overlook cybersecurity training for their staff. Owners often assume that their employees will naturally exercise caution online.
Nevertheless, the human element represents a substantial source of security vulnerabilities. Employees may accidentally click on malicious links or download infected files. Employee cybersecurity training aids in:
- Recognising phishing attempts;
- Grasping the significance of robust passwords;
- Being aware of the social engineering tactics employed by cybercriminals.
3. Permitting your employees to use poor passwords
Weak passwords are a prevalent security vulnerability in SMEs. Many employees use easily guessable passwords and recycle them for multiple accounts. This can leave your company’s sensitive information exposed to hackers.
Statistics reveal that people reuse passwords 64% of the time. Encourage the adoption of strong, unique passwords and consider implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever feasible, adding an extra layer of security.
4. Failing to execute software updates
Neglecting the maintenance of software and operating systems by keeping them outdated is another oversight. Cybercriminals often exploit known vulnerabilities in obsolete software to gain access to systems. Small businesses should routinely update their software to rectify recognised security flaws, including operating systems, web browsers, and antivirus programs.
5. Ignoring the implementation of a data backup plan
Many small businesses still need to establish formal data backup and recovery plans. Often they believe data loss will not occur to them. However, data loss can transpire for various reasons, encompassing cyberattacks, hardware malfunctions, or human errors.
It is crucial to regularly back up your company’s critical data and conduct tests to verify their successful restoration.
6. Disregarding the need for formal security policies
Small businesses frequently need clear-cut policies and procedures. Devoid of transparent and enforceable security policies, employees may need to be aware of critical guidelines, such as handling sensitive data, utilising company devices securely, or responding to security incidents.
Small businesses should establish and communicate formal security policies and procedures to all employees. These policies should encompass matters such as:
- Password management
- Data handling
- Incident reporting
- Security for remote work
- Other pertinent security topics
7. Ignoring the risk posed by poor mobile device security
As an increasing number of employees use mobile devices for work, SMEs can’t afford to overlook cybersecurity.
Implement mobile device management (MDM) solutions to enforce security policies on company and employee-owned devices utilised for work-related activities.
8. Failure to monitor networks
SMEs might need an in-house IT team to monitor their networks for suspicious activities, potentially leading to delayed detection of security breaches.
Install network monitoring tools or consider outsourcing network monitoring services to enable your business to identify and respond to potential threats promptly.
9. Not planning for a cyber security incident
In the face of a cybersecurity incident, SMEs without an incident plan may experience panic and ineffective responses.
This comprehensive plan should incorporate communication strategies, isolation procedures, and a transparent chain of command.
10. Believing your business can manage IT alone
Cyber threats are perpetually evolving, with new attack techniques emerging regularly. Small businesses often struggle to keep up but may believe they are “too small” to invest in managed IT services.
Managed services are available in various packages and price points to accommodate an SME’s budget. A managed service provider (MSP) can safeguard your business from cyberattacks and optimise your IT, potentially saving you money.
Are you concerned about your Melbourne business’s cybersecurity?
Don’t let security vulnerabilities persist. We can help fortify your business against cyber threats and secure your future. Book a no-obligation discovery call with our IT experts to tailor a protection plan to safeguard 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.