The internet has provided us with immense convenience. However, as the number of malicious attackers today has increased, there is a growing need for cybersecurity measures. Many small business owners might make cybersecurity mistakes. And this is dangerous because hackers are always looking to capitalize on security mistakes and loopholes.
Cybersecurity has become a growing concern for small business owners because they usually have minimal infrastructure making them more vulnerable.
A vulnerability can result in the loss of sensitive data and a devastating effect on the business. These small businesses need to be very aware of cybersecurity mistakes and ways of avoiding them. This post discusses eight cybersecurity mistakes that a small business owner can avoid.
Ignoring Existing Cybersecurity Threats
The first mistake that most business owners make is ignoring or underestimating the cyber threats at hand. You cannot fully prepare for something you are not knowledgeable about. That is why it is essential to know what kind of threats exist and to what extent they can harm your business.
Here are some of the most common types of cyber threats today:
- Phishing – this scheme is done by extracting information from unknowing victims through legitimate-looking attachments such as links. The attackers usually go after the victim’s personal information, including names and bank account details
- Malware – aka malicious software. It causes infected devices to slow down or completely stop working.
- Data breaches happen when a set of sensitive data is stolen without authorization. This type of attack can usually be on to business POS systems or business networks.
Aside from these examples, other forms of cyber threats can cause business operations to be affected. When one is knowledgeable about the different threats, it is also best to be equipped with the proper preventive measures.
Not Using VPN, Firewalls, and Proxies
These three are the most common preventive measures a small business should know. Virtual private networks are protected networks that encrypt internet traffic and disguise the online identity. Small businesses can use VPNs to hide their internal networks from intruders.
Firewalls can also filter and block traffic from unwanted IP addresses. At the same time, a proxy server is an intermediary between client requests and destinations. Blazing SEO residential proxies allow businesses to mask their current browsing location. It helps companies to navigate the internet with anonymity, lessening the chances of being compromised.
Passwords are like keys to online lockers for small businesses. Almost everything online is protected by a password, including a business’s mail, bank accounts, social media, computers, servers, etc. Small businesses can make the mistake of keeping weak passwords that are very easy to crack.
Weak passwords include birthdays, names, dates, and everyday words. Using the same passwords for multiple sites or platforms is also not advisable.
A simple way to avoid such mistakes is to keep the passwords complicated by using special characters, making them very difficult to crack. Another piece of advice is to use a two-factor authentication method that adds another password layer like ensuring verification with a mobile phone number.
Another cybersecurity mistake that small business owners make is connecting to unsecured networks, and this can happen when a business employee connects to any public Wi-Fi.
The problem is that the web can be traced, and sensitive business credentials can be exposed. Also, some public Wi-Fi networks are disguised hackers’ networks, which gives the hacker access to your device.
A simple way for small businesses to solve this problem is to ensure a secure connection from a trusted internet service provider (ISP) and implement a zero trust architecture. They can also advise employees against connecting to public Wi-Fi to expose sensitive information.
Not Updating and Upgrading Software Regularly
Small business owners make the cybersecurity mistake of not updating software regularly. Outdated security software leaves the system susceptible to failures, disruptions, and malware attacks. It also gives attackers a back door into your system, impacting the business operations.
Software updates usually contain security patches, so it is always advisable to update security software regularly. It is also recommended to store secret files like budget reports, bank details, and income statements.
Not Encrypting Confidential Data
Small business owners also overlook encryption of data which is a big cybersecurity mistake. Encryption is one of the leading solutions for protecting businesses from data loss, malware, and hacking. Implementing full-disk encryption is something that every business should be doing.
Encrypting data and backups helps prevent intruders from using and interpreting the data. Data encryption mechanisms that can be used are the Advanced encryption standard (AES) which uses 128-bit encryption.
Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA) and Triple Data Encryption Standard (DES). Most operating systems like windows have built-in hardware encryption software such as 7-zip and Bitlocker.
Another mistake commonly made by small business owners is not providing cybersecurity training for employees. Even if the business network is well secured, an employee error can compromise this. These employee errors often cause data security incidents that are costly to fix.
Some of the few threats business employees can cause using weak passwords, opening phishing emails, visiting cloned websites, and improper handling of sensitive data.
A few tips that should be provided to these employees are to ensure best security practices like using strong passwords, not opening phishing emails, using secure Wi-Fi, plugging suspicious USBs, installing security updates, and verifying legitimate software.
Exposing Credentials Online and Failure to Back Up
Another cybersecurity mistake business owners often make sending out their credentials online to business associates. It is advisable not to share credentials on social media because anyone can log in and pretend to be a business owner. Also, business owners should not give out credentials to anyone, no matter how trustworthy.
Most business owners fail to use backups for their files. This is a big cybersecurity mistake because it is recommended to provide a backup of the business data so that even if a system gets corrupted, it can easily be wiped clean and loaded with the backup data; if this backup is not provided, it could be very disastrous for the owner. So it is much recommended to provide backup for data.
Major Cybersecurity Mistakes: Conclusion
Cybersecurity should be taken seriously by businesses. Small businesses have tough competition in the market and cannot afford to make cybersecurity mistakes that can jeopardize the business. Therefore small businesses should make sure not to make the mistakes mentioned above when operating the business.