10 Biggest Cybersecurity Mistakes made by Small Businesses

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While cybercriminals are certainly capable of launching sophisticated attacks, it is often neglected or absent cybersecurity practices within organizations that provide the opening for most breaches. Small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) are particularly vulnerable in this regard. Small business owners frequently find themselves consumed by the challenges of growing their companies, and cybersecurity may not always be a top priority, leading to cybersecurity mistakes. Some businesses believe that they are at a lower risk of experiencing a data breach, while others perceive cybersecurity as an expense they cannot afford.

However, it’s essential to recognize that cybersecurity is not exclusive to large corporations. Small businesses are equally susceptible to cyber threats, and they are frequently viewed as attractive targets by cybercriminals. This is mainly due to the perceived vulnerabilities that may exist within SMBs.

Startling statistics reveal that approximately 50% of SMBs have fallen victim to cyberattacks due to common cybersecurity mistakes, and a devastating consequence of these attacks is that over 60% of affected businesses eventually go out of business. It’s important to note that the majority of data breaches result from human error. This, in fact, offers a glimmer of hope. It means that by improving cybersecurity practices, implementing effective and enhancing what can be described as “cyber hygiene,” organizations can significantly reduce their risk of becoming victims of cyberattacks.

By implementing more robust cybersecurity measures, staying informed about the evolving threat landscape, and fostering a culture of security, businesses, regardless of their size, can better shield themselves against the ever-present danger of cyber threats. This proactive approach not only safeguards sensitive data but also helps ensure the long-term sustainability and success of the organization in an increasingly digital world.

Are You Making Any of These Cybersecurity Mistakes?

To address potential issues of cybersecurity, you need to first identify the common problems. Often the teams at SMBs are making cybersecurity mistakes they don’t even realize. Below are some of the biggest reasons small businesses fall victim to cyberattacks and how they could be prevented. Read on to see if any of this sounds familiar around your company.

1. Underestimating the Cyber Threat

A common cybersecurity mistake made by many small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) is underestimating the extent of the cyber threat landscape. Some business owners erroneously assume that their organizations are too small or unknown to be targeted. However, this is a potentially dangerous misconception.

Cybercriminals often perceive small businesses as easy and vulnerable targets. They believe that such companies may lack the financial resources or the expertise to effectively defend against cyberattacks. It is crucial to recognize that no business, regardless of its size, is immune to the attentions of cybercriminals. Proactive engagement in cybersecurity measures is essential to protect against these threats. Small businesses can be found easily by cyber criminals, often by web crawlers and bots that look for vulnerable systems. If you have an online presence, you are vulnerable to cyber attacks.

2. Neglecting Employee Training

Small businesses frequently overlook the importance of cybersecurity training, also known as security awareness training, for their employees. Some business owners assume that their staff members will inherently exercise caution when navigating the digital part of their job. This is one of the most common cybersecurity mistakes made today.

Nevertheless, it’s important to acknowledge that the human element constitutes a significant source of security vulnerabilities. Whether its passwords saved on sticky notes or virtual documents, visiting malicious websites, or viewing emails that are not legitimate, it is possible to fall victim.

Employees may inadvertently engage with malicious links or unwittingly download infected files. Effective staff cybersecurity training can empower individuals to:

  • Recognize and thwart phishing attempts.
  • Grasp the significance of creating and maintaining strong, unique passwords.
  • Become vigilant regarding social engineering tactics frequently employed by cybercriminals.
Cybersecurity Mistakes - Employees may inadvertently engage with malicious links or unwittingly download infected files.
Employees may inadvertently engage with malicious links or unwittingly download infected files. Teaching employees how to navigate potential threats is key.

3. Using Weak Passwords

The use of weak passwords represents a common cybersecurity mistake within small companies. Many employees resort to easily guessable passwords, and they may even reuse the same password across multiple accounts. Staying up to date with password policy recommendations and best-practices is very important, whether you’re a business of 5 or 500.

Such practices can leave a company’s sensitive information exposed to potential hackers. Encourage the use of strong, unique passwords. Additionally, the implementation of multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever feasible can provide an added layer of security. This adds an extra layer of security.

4. Ignoring Software Updates

Failing to maintain current versions of software and operating systems is yet another common cybersecurity mistake and oversight. Cybercriminals frequently capitalize on known vulnerabilities present in outdated software to gain unauthorized access to systems.

Small businesses should establish a routine for regularly updating their software to address and patch known security flaws. This includes updates for operating systems, web browsers, and antivirus programs. If your business does not have in-house IT or anyone managing your systems on a daily basis, finding a reliable and trusted managed service provider (MSP) is a good first step to keeping devices up to date.

Dark Blue Technologies is an MSP that services local businesses throughout our community. Based in Ann Arbor, we have additional offices throughout Michigan serve businesses in the nearby communities. Learn how Dark Blue Technologies can help your business with technology services today by contacting us.

5. Lack of a Data Backup and Recovery Plan

Small companies may operate without formalized data backup and recovery plans, mistakenly believing that data loss will not befall them. However, data loss can stem from a variety of causes, including cyberattacks, hardware failures, or inadvertent human errors.

A prudent practice is to periodically back up a company’s critical data and conduct tests to ascertain the viability of restoring these backups in the event of a data loss incident.

6. No Formal Security Policies

Small businesses often function without clear and enforceable security policies and procedures in place. In the absence of such guidelines, employees may lack essential knowledge on topics like the secure handling of sensitive data, the proper use of company devices, or the appropriate response to security incidents.

It is recommended for small businesses to establish and communicate formal security policies and procedures, encompassing areas such as:

  • Password management
  • Data handling
  • Incident reporting
  • Security measures for remote work
  • And other pertinent security considerations

7. Neglecting Mobile Device Security

With the increasing use of mobile devices for work-related activities, mobile security has gained significance. Yet, small companies occasionally disregard this facet of cybersecurity.

A proactive step involves implementing mobile device management (MDM) solutions, which enforce security policies on both company-owned and employee-owned devices used for business-related purposes.

8. Failing to Regularly Watch Networks

SMBs may not have IT staff to watch their networks for suspicious activities. This can result in delayed detection of security breaches.

Install network monitoring tools. Or consider outsourcing network monitoring services. This can help your business promptly identify and respond to potential threats.

9. Absence of an Incident Response Plan

In the face of a cybersecurity incident, what is your plan? A major cybersecurity mistake that is often not considered by even larger businesses is an effective and updated incident response plan. Small and mid-sized businesses without a formal incident response plan may find themselves ill-prepared and even panicked. This can lead to ineffective responses.

The development of a comprehensive incident response plan, delineating the steps to be taken in the event of a security breach, is paramount. This plan should encompass communication protocols, isolation procedures, and a clear chain of command.

10. Thinking They Don’t Need Managed IT Services

The evolving nature of cyber threats, with new attack techniques continuously emerging, can present a significant challenge for small businesses. Despite this, some may perceive themselves as too modest in scale to invest in managed IT services.

It’s essential to recognize that managed services come in various sizes, including packages tailored to fit SMB budgets. A managed service provider (MSP) can effectively safeguard your business against cyberattacks and, simultaneously, optimize your IT infrastructure, potentially leading to cost savings. Small businesses should consider managed IT services as a proactive and cost-effective solution for addressing evolving cybersecurity threats.

Learn More About Managed IT Services

Don’t risk losing your business because of a cyberattack. Managed IT services can be more affordable for your small business than you think.

Give us a call today to schedule a chat.

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