7 Cybersecurity Mistakes That Could Cost Your SMB Thousands

Building a small business takes a lot of time, money and dedication. But with enough hard work, you can establish a robust team and customer base that will keep your organization growing for years to come.

Then again, there are those unforeseen mishaps that sink even the healthiest SMBs. This could be a bad investment, a juggernaut competitor or even a cybersecurity data breach. Did you know that 60 percent of small companies go out of business in the six months following a cyber attack?

If you want to protect your SMB for digital catastrophe, you’ll want to avoid these common cybersecurity blunders.

Failing to Educate

Believe it or not, employee negligence is the leading cause of data breach. This is not to say that employees are lazy or stupid, but rather that companies aren’t doing enough to educate their employees about the risk of cyberattack. Think about hosting quarterly cybersecurity training sessions to answer questions, tackle problems and update employees about the latest protocols.

Dropping the Safety Net

Face it, stuff happens. Even if you sure up your security across the board an especially crafty hacker could still get through. Does that mean it’s not worth trying to grow your small business? Of course not. It’s just a part of the risk assessment for which every company needs to prepare. Consider investing in cyber insurance to mitigate the costly effects of data breach.

Sticking to a Feeble Password

Weak password protocol is an IT nightmare! Not only are anemic passwords easy enough to break by brute force attack, but they’re often used for multiple sites and services. For example, a hacker might crack your “Debra2012” Facebook password, find your personal email address and use the same password to access that, then use the same password to access your Dropbox account, banking profile, work email… Instead, use a password manager to develop hearty and unique sign-in credentials for all your accounts.

Getting Hooked by Phishers

Phishing emails are a classic tool in the hacker arsenal, and the primary reason they are still used is that they still work. Employees often fall for alarming subject lines, text messages or web link redirects which coax the user into sharing personal or professional information with the hacker. If you want to stay safe online, ignore spam or phishing emails like the plague; and never share sign-in credentials or important files over email.

Risking Public Exposure

Free public Wi-Fi is wonderfully convenient, but there are hidden risks to connecting to an open network. Cyber criminals will sometimes set up a ‘man in the middle’ attack to lure unsuspecting users into joining a bogus hotspot set up by the hacker. Once connected, the hacker can watch all data transfer to or from the user. Legitimate public Wi-Fi isn’t much better, since it still allows digital eavesdropper to monitor online movements. Do yourself a favor and employ a virtual private network when working in public.

Mismanaging a Disgruntled Employee

As mentioned above, employee negligence is a threat to network security; but so is employee malice! If you must fire an employee for any reason, be sure to eliminate any risk of criminal retaliation: reclaim company devices as soon as possible, change password to every business-related account they used (including social media pages) and wipe their device of all data to prevent the proliferation of malware.

Employing Shadow IT

Shadow IT is defined as any software, add-on or application used for work that is not revealed or sanctioned by IT. While it’s true that phony and malicious lurk everywhere, shadow IT isn’t necessary harmful by nature – rather it is simply invisible. This can cause problems for businesses because IT departments are unable to detect incursion or data breach on these programs. Urge your employees to only use IT-approved programs whenever possible, or to at least disclose the applications they are using so IT can prepare itself for any eventuality.

As you can see, each of these security mistakes is routine and commonplace. But even the smallest breach can precipitate into a security nightmare. Do yourself a favor and use extra caution to prevent ruinous data breaches.