Small missteps in the cybersecurity sector are dangerous; avoid them at all costs
When enacting any cybersecurity policy for your enterprise, it is important to not fall prey to common errors, mistakes, and pitfalls. The vast digital landscape of threats and evolving trends requires a constantly updated security process. Therefore, fine-tuning security is important, and identifying missteps in your network is part of that trial and error.
Not all threats can be stopped. It’s likelier to experience a cyber-attack at some point than not at all. However, the key distinction is whether the attack is the result of internal error or external malicious attempts. Third-party attacks can be prepared for, mitigated, and adapted to. Internal mistakes are harder predict, random, and often the result of human error. To reduce risk across all segments of a network, identifying and applying strategies for risk reduction is recommended.
All organizations are different, however. Not all will observe the same level of risk. But, covering them in this article will provide insight into whether your business is committing several common cybersecurity mistakes.
7 common cybersecurity mistakes
Mistake #1: Outdated password and login policies
In the modern digital threatscape, passwords alone are not effective defense solutions. From unsafe logins to re-used passphrases, staff may use simple passwords within a business network, increasing risk level. Even with the implementation of complex logins, it is not a guarantee of defense against attack. Social engineering and phishing can hijack passwords from important accounts, granting them lateral movement in a network.
Password policies need to remain updated to comply with legislative requirements while also defending against modern attacks. Integrating multi-factor authentication is recommended with comprehensive login requirements. However, it’s also a mistake to assume complex passwords alone warrant a strong cybersecurity defense policy.
Mistake #2: Unsecured Devices
The implementation of internet-facing devices within business networks has rapidly expanded over the past several years. The implementation of remote working also fostered this adoption, creating ecosystems of potential entry points for malicious actors.
Unsecured devices (or devices with limited safeguards) present a serious threat to an organization’s network infrastructure. To best secure a network, cybersecurity and IT teams need visibility into their business network. But the use of unsecured devices adds layers and layers of risk while also creating “blind spots” that are harder to address. When you add unsecured devices into a business WLAN – those lacking substantial protections – it’s a point of entry for malicious entities.
If a device housing business data, logins, or other valuable information is compromised, that enhances risk and threatens a company’s network infrastructure.
Mistake #3: No awareness or recognition of phishing
Phishing and social engineering are devastating in effectiveness. It’s why even with the most complex cybersecurity solutions, it can be undone with human error. Countering phishing presents different challenges. Generally, social engineering is effective because staff and management are not trained to recognize common signs of phishing, or they’re not up-to-date on modern phishing methods.
With AI-generated toolsets growing in use, prompted phishing schemes are a growing security risk too. The agility of attackers is increasing, thus, it’s a misstep to have no or limited familiarity with phishing attacks.
Mistake #4: No backups or data recovery plans
The modern reality of cyber breaches and attacks is they will happen. Millions of people in the US alone are hit with some form of attack. Almost half of people in the United States (47%), for instance, have had personal information exposed due to a breach event.
While an attack’s severity can vary, it doesn’t highlight the inevitability of an attack. However, companies make the grave mistake of not implementing forms of data backup, recovery, and safe storage. Third-party data warehouses or physical backups are recommended, and having a failsafe plan implemented in case of downtime is necessary for long-term survival. Cyber breaches can be costly, and permanent damage caused by data loss is enough to upend most SMBs.
Mistake #5: Limited training or no cybersecurity awareness education
It is not required to possess expert knowledge regarding cybersecurity to maintain safe practices.
Unfortunately, staff are not always trained in good cybersecurity hygiene. This includes recognizing phishing schemes, following PII regulations, safely managing business data, and using repetitive passphrases across multiple devices.
Keeping staff inundated with basic security principles can mitigate severe risks. Common applications are zero-trust policies that only respond to messages or contacts after proper verification.
Mistake #6: Legacy solutions, hardware, and methods
While relying on the old and familiar is tempting, it does present a very serious cybersecurity threat. Legacy infrastructure is prone to failure, slower speeds, and compatibility issues with modern advancements. Businesses are growing more reliant on SaaS suites and dozens of apps to accomplish different company tasks – but when paired with legacy systems, it’s a less safe, slower environment.
Furthermore, outdated legacy policies and safety protocols invite serious risk too. It isn’t enough to simply deploy an anti-virus solution mixed with a firewall. Attackers use complex methods and malware schemes to penetrate and exfiltrate data. Depending on the size and scope of a business, SMBs need to consider agile options to protect their data. Examples might be cloud and virtualized services or hybrid firewalls.
Shifting beyond legacy is not just for safety, either, it can yield powerful productivity benefits and faster performance.
Mistake #7: Lack of security testing and network analysis
To guarantee long-term security health, routine penetration tests and analysis of network behavior are important. But businesses leave this out of their cybersecurity policy, adopting a philosophy of “set it and forget it.” Without conducting penetration tests and applying security health grades, IT teams have no way of understanding where they’re weakest and strongest.
Even the smallest errors can cascade into serious problems. Your staff and IT teams should avoid these common, but serious, mistakes we’ve discussed.