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SMBs 7 Deadly Cybersecurity Sins

by Cybergal | Last Updated | January 25, 2022
CyberSecurity - SMB

Committing deadly sins, again and again, is unforgivable in digital security. When you transgress security rules, it can bring your business to its knees.

Let us tell you about the seven deadly cybersecurity sins plaguing small businesses. We will also show real world attacks to highlight their deadliness. We hope this will help you develop robust security features and know what to avoid.

1. Using weak passwords

Weak passwords are a recipe for cybersecurity compromise. Think data breaches, account takeovers, and identity theft. Weak passwords are immediate and potential threats. 

What are weak passwords? Weak passwords are those that are common, short, and default-based. They could also be anything that can be easily cracked by hackers using brute force. Long passwords are also weak if they contain common words related to the user. Such words can be family information, birth dates, or phone numbers.

Common examples are: 

Bad Passwords impact Cyber Security

Password mistakes

Related to weak passwords are password mistakes that are equally vulnerable to attacks. Here are some of them:

Some tips: Avoid personal information. Use long and complex strings of alphanumeric characters. Use unique passwords for each account and segregate personal accounts from work accounts. Never recycle passwords. Consider multi factor authentication.

2. Lack of a systematic backup policy

Not having a backup strategy is one of the seven deadly cyber security sins you should avoid. An inadequate backup system leads to data loss. It can also lead to loss of customers, revenue, investors and brand reputation.

These consequences are not guesswork but proven by real-life incidents. Here are a couple of statistics on what is happening on the ground:

Datto: According to a Datto study, the average cost of downtime for large enterprises is $11,600 per minute. More specifically, an hour of downtime costs:

Backblaze: The Drive Stats 2020 reported that 93% of hard drives failed in 2020. A hard drive is a component of your computer that stores all your data, from files to software. Companies without a backup system may lose all their data forever.

Some tips: These are alarming real world attacks that need a solid backup strategy. Before developing your backup system, conduct assessments on pertinent security components including:

Backup Value to Cyber Security

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3. Lack of security training for employees

What is the role of the human factor in cybersecurity? When given the best security training, employees could be the first line of defense. But they could also be the source of the worst vulnerabilities if they lack that training.

4 Different Kinds of insider Attacks

Employees are the biggest source of immediate and potential threats. Axelos’ RESILIA report revealed that 45% of attacks are caused by unintentional errors. The intentional attacks were a little lower at 40%. 

Some tips: Most breaches are caused by human error regardless of a company’s size. Make your training programs effective and meant for real-life situations. Design them to be interactive and engaging for both humans and machines.

Cybersecurity Training Issues

4. Taking cybersecurity for granted

In the past, threat actors preferred to attack enterprise-level businesses. They targeted them for their deeper pockets and the wealth of data they keep. But that preference has shifted to include small businesses in recent years.

Why then are small businesses not taking network security seriously?

SolarWinds published its Public Sector Cybersecurity Survey Report 2020. The report says that 87% of businesses had average or better cyber security defenses. Yet, 71% of those businesses admitted suffering at least one breach in the last year.

There seems to be a gap between policy and application. What businesses say about the state of their cybersecurity is one thing. What’s happening on the ground is another.

The figures are at odds. Why? Most small businesses exhibit one common characteristic – overconfidence. Overconfidence leads to other shortcomings, such as: 

5. Being more reactive than proactive to cybersecurity

Both reactive and proactive cyber security strategies are good. But when your culture is entirely reactive, you’re putting your business at risk.

What is reactive cybersecurity?

Reactive cybersecurity involves responding to an attack during or after it happens. The visible signals that prompt the IT security team might include:

After discovering a data breach or cybersecurity compromise, the security team should:

What is proactive cybersecurity?

Proactive security is what you do to prepare for an attack. It involves:

Some tips: Reactive cybersecurity can be beneficial after an attack. But it must be paired with a proactive strategy. Being proactive helps your organization identify and detect potential threats before they happen. Cyber hunt activities detect risky activities that have evaded detection by existing tools. It also helps you respond and recover from an attack more effectively. It lowers your risk from data breaches.

Cybersecurity Costs and Expenses

6. Being oblivious to uncontrolled data

Many businesses appear to be ignorant of the risks of uncontrolled data. Uncontrolled data can lead to catastrophic data loss and costly lawsuits. Worse, it can bring businesses down. 

The consequences of data loss are not speculation but hard fact proven time after time.

The University of Texas found that:

Some tips: Uncontrolled data could compromise your whole network. Strict physical security of data storage and policies can  help solve the problem. A strong BYOD policy and employee training also help control data.

Hard Cost of Data Breaches

7. Not having a cybersecurity policy in place

Threat actors are becoming relentless in launching cybersecurity breaches. They’re always looking for potential vulnerabilities to exploit in increasingly connected devices. Without a policy, you’re leaving customer data and other sensitive information vulnerable.

Here are the greatest impacts of a weak or non-existent cyber security policy:

Loss of customers and revenue

You can’t blame customers if 57% of them hold you, rather than hackers, responsible for their stolen data. They entrusted their information expecting you will protect it. Once you breach this trust, 78% of them would stop interacting with you online. And 36% would be gone forever, including potential revenue from them.

Loss of intellectual property

A weak cyber security strategy allows cyber criminals to steal your resources. You can’t afford to lose your trade secrets, proprietary resources, designs and more. As a result, your once unique products will lose their value forever.

Damage to your brand reputation

When a data breach occurs, the media goes to work. Large-scale breaches make the national news. Small-scale ones find their way to local newspapers and social media. The news will always reach your stakeholders. This can damage your brand reputation.

Risk of losing your business

Unlike large enterprises, small businesses have limited security resources to repel attacks. Research shows more than a majority of them go out of business within six months of an attack. 

Some tips: Hackers are getting bolder and more sophisticated in their attacks. Businesses must double down in crafting and implementing a resilient cybersecurity policy. Use highly adaptive cybersecurity services to test  high priority IT systems.

All good cybersecurity policies include best practices like: 

If you have committed any of the seven deadly sins we outlined, you’re not hopeless.  Try to repent and atone for those sins. Adhere to cybersecurity best practices and the tips we shared.  

To summarize those tips:

1. Use strong passwords.

A strong password is difficult to guess. It should be at least 8 characters long and include a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols. Never use the same password for more than one account.

2. Adapt a systematic backup policy.

A backup policy must be part of your business continuity and disaster recovery plan. By  backing up all your critical data on schedule, you cut the impact of a data loss event. Schedule regular backups of your data to a secure location, such as an off-site data center.

3. Provide security training for your employees.

Educating employees to identify and respond to potential threats reduces the risk of a breach. Some best practices for providing cybersecurity training for employees include:

4. Create a cybersecurity strategy

A cybersecurity strategy outlines how you will protect your networks and systems. It identifies the risks you face and the steps you need to take to mitigate those risks. It also includes procedures for responding to cyber incidents and for recovering from them.

5. Take control of your data

There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to data. What information do you want to keep private and what do you want to share? What’s the best way to store and back up your data? How can you keep your devices safe from viruses and hackers? Taking control of your data means thinking about these things and more. It means being aware of the risks and taking steps to protect yourself and your information. It also means being choosy about what information you share and with whom.

6. Put a cybersecurity policy in place

A cybersecurity policy includes guidelines for:

It’s important to keep it up-to-date, as the threat landscape changes all the time.

7. Go for adaptive cybersecurity services

One of the most important aspects of cybersecurity is the ability to adapt to new threats as they emerge. This is where adaptive cybersecurity services come in. These services track your network for new threats and adapt your security posture accordingly.

9. Do vulnerability assessments regularly

By identifying vulnerabilities, you can fix them before someone else takes advantage of them. Vulnerabilities are discovered all the time. So you must do assessments regularly to keep up with them.

10. Perform security testing regularly

Security testing must be done periodically to ensure the system remains secure. It’s important to stay up to date with the latest security patches and updates.

11. Check your systems security engineering design

To identify and mitigate vulnerabilities, you need a review of the system design. This includes an analysis of the system architecture and the design of the security features. It also includes a review of the code.

12 Opt for pre-vetted support services to back your security team

Pre-vetted support services can help your security team. They can back up your efforts by providing more manpower, technical expertise, and resources.

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