Cybersecurity Mistakes Small Businesses Must Avoid

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We’re now in the era of accelerated e-commerce engagement and market expansion. Modern society had already been moving in this direction; the COVID-19 pandemic only sped things up. So it should be clear by this point that small businesses have a lot to gain from investing in cybersecurity infrastructure and even more to lose if they ignore the need to have one.

Now more than ever, businesses big and small should protect their data, websites, and customers’ information from malicious code (malware) and cyber thieves. Putting up a good defense is just one part of it, though. Businesses also need to be aware of what not to do so that they don’t accidentally undermine their cybersecurity systems.

Take note of these common mistakes by small businesses that could put their website and business data at risk.

Hiring Only One IT Personnel

It’s risky to entrust all IT-related work and data to only one person. For one thing, the heavy workload could cause burnout; and for another, you’ll be sorely crippled if the employee resigns, and no one else in your business knows what they do. That, of course, is under the assumption that the IT in-charge is competent at his or her job.

Hiring Unqualified IT Staff

What if the IT staff knows very little, if not zero, about IT management and cybersecurity? It could be catastrophic. Not only are you wasting money on the person’s salary but also risking exposure of confidential business information and customer data. Moreover, they may not know what to do with the information that your data security systems generate. Poor hiring choices for IT can also harm your revenue. If, for example, your IT doesn’t know how to troubleshoot web application firewalls to stop blocking false positives, your online store can lose out on many potential purchases.

Firewalls and anti-malware software can only do so much to protect your business. If you don’t have people who know how to use them properly, you won’t be able to maximize your cybersecurity tools and software.

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Choosing Weak Passwords

Discretion in selecting six, eight, or more alphanumeric digits can go a long way to protecting your website and cloud-based data. A strong password consists of letters, numbers, and special characters. A long password also offers more security, as does a random character placement (e.g., adding a period in the middle of a syllable, if the password contains words). The key is to be as unpredictable as possible (e.g., using a combination of unrelated words, avoiding in leetspeak) to prevent observers from spotting a pattern.

Speaking of which, forgetting to change passwords can be just as dangerous as using a predictable one. People who once knew about any of the passwords you use (e.g., former employees, former business partners, third-party service providers, guests, and customers) might take advantage of this knowledge. Even worse, they might infiltrate your data systems and harm your business.

Forgetting to Back-Up Data

Many online security companies offer cloud storage as part of their cybersecurity package. Because of this feature, many small businesses become complacent about checking if all crucial business data were uploaded correctly (without bugs and glitches) and entirely (complete uploads).

It is also common for cloud storage services to automatically backup files and data from a few specified sources. So if you keep information in other locations, you need to back them up manually as well. If you forget to do both, you could lose critical data if you upgrade your hardware or OS, run a malware cleanup, or become targeted by hackers.

Just because your business is small or just starting doesn’t mean you won’t be the target of malicious individuals on the Internet. On the contrary, they could assume that you are easy prey. Protect your business and your customers. Invest in robust data security systems and take care not to commit mistakes that will undermine your cybersecurity.

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