Biggest Cybersecurity Mistakes by Small Companies

A guy frustrated at his IT and is needing to work on their Digital Transformation & Innovatio

Cybercriminals can launch very sophisticated attacks on your systems, but it’s often weak cybersecurity practices that enable most breaches. This is especially true when it comes to small and medium businesses, although the larger ones aren’t that immune either, as we saw with Boeing late October 2023.

More so, Small business owners often don’t prioritise cybersecurity measures. They may be just fully focused on growing the company, or think they have a lower data breach risk. Or they may think it’s an expense they  just can’t bear.

But cybersecurity is not only a concern for large corporations. It’s a critical issue for small businesses as well as they are often seen as attractive targets for cybercriminals due to many perceived vulnerabilities. 

Fifty percent of SMEs have been victims of cyberattacks. More than 60% of them go out of business afterward.

The good news however, is that Cybersecurity doesn’t need to be expensive. Most data breaches are the result of human error. It means that improving cyber hygiene can reduce the risk of falling victim to a data breach, and the potential for losing your small business you have worked so hard to create. Today I am sharing just a few things that can help improve your IT Security posture, that do not cost the earth.

Are You Making Any of These Cybersecurity Mistakes?

To address the issue, you need to first identify the problem. Often the teams at SME’s are making mistakes that they don’t even realise. Below are some of the biggest reasons small businesses fall victim to cyberattacks. Read on to see if any of this sounds familiar around your company.

1. Underestimating the Risk

One of the biggest cybersecurity mistakes for SME’s to make is to underestimating the threat landscape. Many business owners assume that their company is too small to be a target. But this is a dangerous misconception. 

Cybercriminals often see small businesses as easy targets. They believe the company lacks the resources or expertise to defend against attacks and it is essential to understand that no business is too small for cybercriminals to target. Being proactive in cybersecurity is crucial.

2. Neglecting Employee Training

When was the last time you trained your employees on cybersecurity? Small businesses often neglect cybersecurity training for their employees as owners assume that they will naturally be cautious online.

But the human factor is a significant source of security vulnerabilities. Employees may inadvertently click on malicious links or download seemingly safe, but infected files. Staff cybersecurity training helps them:

  • Recognise phishing attempts
  • Understand the importance of strong passwords
  • Be aware of social engineering tactics used by cybercriminals

If you’re concerned around Employee Training, we work with some of the best Cyber Awareness companies in our region who we can happily recommend.

3. Using Weak Passwords

Weak passwords are a common security vulnerability in small companies. Many employees use easily guessable passwords. They also reuse the same password for several accounts. This can leave your company’s sensitive information exposed to criminals. Anyone who has worked with us knows how much we talk about Cyber Essentials, and how we always follow IT Security best practices. If you’re not sure how you can enforce strong password use in your company, give us a call… it’s easier than you might think.

People reuse passwords 64% of the time.

Encourage the use of strong, unique passwords. Consider implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever possible. This adds an invaluable extra layer of security and again, is easier to implement than you think, and costs nothing! It’s a no brainer!

4. Ignoring Software Updates

Failing to keep software and operating systems up to date is another mistake. Cybercriminals often exploit known vulnerabilities in outdated software to gain access to systems. Small businesses should regularly update their software to patch known security flaws. This includes operating systems, web browsers, and antivirus programs, but also includes all the software programs you have installed, network firewalls, switch and routers, along with any firmware running on industrial automation components.

Keeping an upto date list of what software is out there, what versions are running, and where they are located is your biggest asset in keeping on top of Software Updates.

5. Lacking a Data Backup Plan

Small companies may not have formal data backup and recovery plans. They might mistakenly assume that data loss won’t happen to them. But data loss can occur due to various reasons. This includes cyberattacks, hardware failures, or human errors.

Regularly back up your company’s critical data. Test the backups to ensure they can be successfully restored in case of a data loss incident.

Cloud based File Sync software can also be vulnerable. Just because you have created a copy of your files in OneDrive, your cloud copies of those files are also susceptible to ransomware file encryption, as discussed here.

6. No Formal Security Policies

Small businesses often operate without clear policies and procedures. With no clear and enforceable security policies, employees may not know critical information, such as how to handle sensitive data or how to use company devices securely or responsibly. 

Small businesses should establish formal security policies and procedures. As well as communicate them to all employees. These policies should cover things like:

  • Password management
  • Data handling
  • Incident reporting
  • Remote work security
  • And other security topics

7. Ignoring Mobile Security

As more employees use mobile devices for work, mobile security is increasingly important. Small companies often overlook this aspect of cybersecurity. Putting in place mobile device management (MDM) solutions help enforce security policies on company- and employee-owned devices used for work-related activities.

8. Failing to Regularly Watch Networks

SME’s often don’t have IT staff to watch their networks for suspicious activities which can result in delayed detection of security breaches.

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

9. No Incident Response Plan

In the face of a cybersecurity incident, companies without an incident response plan may panic. They can also respond ineffectively.

Develop a comprehensive incident response plan that outlines the steps to take when a security incident occurs. This should include communication plans, isolation procedures, and a clear chain of command.

10. Thinking They Don’t Need Managed IT Services

Cyber threats are continually evolving. New attack techniques emerge regularly. Small businesses often have a hard time keeping up. Yet, they believe they are “too small” to pay for managed IT services.

Managed services come in all package sizes. This includes those designed for Small business budgets. A managed service provider (MSP) can keep your business safe from cyberattacks. As well as save you money at the same time by optimising your IT and ensure its working for you, and not against you.

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 or simply schedule a chat.

A guy frustrated at his IT and is needing to work on their Digital Transformation & Innovatio