As data becomes an increasingly important component of managing a successful business, data security becomes a bigger priority. Unfortunately, many business owners still haven’t caught up to this reality, and either don’t take data security seriously or don’t invest enough in it.
What do most business owners get wrong about data security?
They Think They Can Handle Everything Internally
Hiring an IT support service can instantly make the problem of data security easier. This external team of professionals can help you examine your business’s unique risks and goals, identify areas of vulnerability, chart out prevention strategies, and provide ongoing monitoring so you can easily respond to threats in progress.
Many business owners are reluctant to hire this type of service because it costs money. They falsely believe they can handle all of these things internally without any external support.
Granted, if you have a team of in-house IT experts with sufficient experience in cybersecurity and data security planning, you may be able to handle all your security needs without hiring additional staff members or experts. But as a data security amateur with limited supporting staff, you should avoid overestimating your abilities.
They Think Data Security Is All About Avoiding Hackers
Movies and TV shows lead us to believe that most data security threats are brute-force hackers: skilled coders who can use sophisticated technical methods to bypass your security infrastructure and gain access to your data and systems.
But in reality, most data security threats are more nuanced and less reliant on technical skill. For example, many threats emerge from social engineering schemes, and many so-called “hackers” have almost no technical skills whatsoever.
They Underestimate the Risk to Small Businesses
Typical small business owners also underestimate the risks they face. They believe that most hackers are interested in going after big companies and organizations, overlooking smaller operations. In reality, 43 percent of all attacks target small- to mid-sized businesses. These businesses are typically lucrative opportunities, but they don’t have many data security strategies in place – making them easy targets.
They Overlook the Most Common Vulnerabilities
Some of the most dangerous and commonly exploited vulnerabilities are also the simplest. As a small business owner, you should pay close attention to these “low-hanging fruit” security strategies.
· Passwords. If a password is weak or easy to guess, it’s going to be trivial for a nefarious individual to access the account. You should make all your passwords unique, with a complex string of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special symbols.
· Failed updates. It’s also important to keep all of your devices and applications up to date, with the latest security patches. Turning on automatic updates is advised.
· Social engineering. You also need to be aware of social engineering scams, which utilizes and manipulation to trick people into giving up sensitive information. Everyone on your team should be familiar with the most common social engineering scams – and they should know to never give out information like account passwords.
They Fully Trust Their VPN and/or Firewall
VPNs and firewalls work differently, but they both exist as security tools designed to mitigate certain types of threats. They’re valuable additions to any cybersecurity strategy, but it’s a mistake to fully trust them or believe they’re foolproof. They can’t protect you from every threat, and even if they could, they can be misused if not handled properly.
They Don’t Provide Education or Training
Data security isn’t just about investing in the best tools or hiring the best IT support team; it’s also about keeping your staff members educated and trained. Your security, as a business, is only as strong as your weakest link. If you don’t properly train and educate your team members, one of them could end up making a devastating mistake.
They Underestimate Internal Threats
Would it surprise you to learn that insider threats affect more than a third of businesses, globally, every year? It’s true. Many of the worst data security threats come from disgruntled or malicious staff members who already have access to your data. If you don’t have a plan for dealing with internal threats, you’re behind the times.
They Have No Backup Plan or Response Strategy
Good data security strategies focus on prevention, minimizing the chances of a data breach. But we can’t ever assume that we are untouchable; we must have backup plans and responsive strategies in place as well. That means backing up your data redundantly and knowing exactly how you’re going to respond to a threat in progress.
As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to take data security seriously. Only with a more robust, focused effort can you keep your organization safe and minimize the worst risks of a data breach.