Cybersecurity is a big issue for modern businesses of all sizes, but especially for small businesses and startups. They often fall prey to the idea that because they’re not a large, established organization, they won’t be a target of cybercrime. However, the opposite is usually true. Without expert guidance, it's easy for small businesses to make mistakes and fall victim to cyber threats.
The best way to avoid making major mistakes in cybersecurity is to be aware of what could happen to your systems and have a plan and process in place to avoid it. Below are some missteps that could be detrimental to your small business and the right moves to prevent them:
1. Not Taking Cyber Threats Seriously
Cyber threats are malicious attempts to damage or disrupt a computer network or system. It also includes the attempt to access files and infiltrate or steal data. According to Cisco, cyber threats and attacks hit businesses every day. Oftentimes they’re looking for large ransom amounts, with 53% of attacks resulting in damages of $500,000 or more.
There are many types of cyber threats, including social engineered trojans, unpatched software (Java, Adobe Reader, Flash), phishing, network traveling worms, and advanced persistent threats. These attacks can come in the form of unsuspicious emails and links, downloaded attachments, and more.
2. Lacking Cybersecurity Strategy
It's vital that small businesses have a cybersecurity plan that protects against the threats that face their systems daily. This allows for all members of the company to be knowledgeable and aware of what to do when they come across cyber threats and attacks. Businesses of all sizes, but specifically small businesses, can be greatly affected by cybersecurity threats.
Train employees in security principles, require strong passwords, establish best Internet use guidelines, and set rules of behavior in handling sensitive information.
Make sure your company’s hardware has the latest security software, web browser, and operating system.
Provide firewall security for your Internet connection to prevent unauthorized access of data on a private network.
Create a mobile device action plan using passwords, encrypted data, and security apps.
Make backup copies of important business data and information.
Create user accounts for each employee.
Secure and hide Wi-Fi networks.
3. Neglecting to Update Your Business Continuity Plan
A business continuity plan is a plan that outlines the prevention of and recovery from cyber attacks and other IT incidents, ensuring members of the company and assets are not only protected but also able to function effectively in the event of a disaster, according to Investopedia.
One example of such a disaster has been the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused several businesses to have to switch to remote networks or even pause services altogether. Such disruptions in business can lead to a drop in profits if not properly planned for, making business continuity plans important for a business of any industry and size to update.
4. Failing to Re-evaluate Your Cybersecurity Budget
Your company should think twice if it’s planning on cutting budgets for cybersecurity. Budgeting for this ensures your business is more equipped to prevent costly attacks. In the long run, cutting corners on cybersecurity will cost your company far more than a cybersecurity investment.
A Business report looking through the small business market shows the average cost of a data breach to a small business can range from $120,000 to $1.24 million. IBM’s 2019 Cost of a Data Breach Report found that the average cost of a data breach was $3.92 million, and they cost smaller businesses more than they cost large businesses.
Many factors—such as your industry and company size, compliance mandates, and the sensitivity of the data you store—tie into how much should be spent on cybersecurity. Most companies pay between 5.6% to 20% of the company’s total IT budget.
5. Using Break/Fix IT Services
Break/fix IT services only benefit with your business when an IT issue arises. It’s reactive and not proactive, resulting in short-term solutions instead of long term solutions. It can end up being more costly for your business because solutions aren’t strategized to improve your overall security infrastructure, but rather to fix an immediate issue.
It’s better to use managed cybersecurity services because you get predictable payments, streamlined servicing, stability, shared ownership, and long-term, strategized solutions.
As your business seeks to improve cybersecurity in a time when digital security is more important than ever, these pitfalls can help you recognize areas that need improvement in your own infrastructure. Following these guidelines can save your business thousands of dollars while also keeping your data safe from threat actors.