In an ever-evolving cyber threat landscape, hackers are constantly coming up with new ways to bypass businesses' security measures. With data breaches becoming an increasingly common threat for businesses of all sizes, with a cyber attack occurring roughly every 44 seconds, it is important that you take every possible precaution to ensure that your organization's data is secure. Unfortunately, small and medium-sized businesses hold many misconceptions about data security, which can leave them vulnerable to a potentially costly cyber-attack.
To ensure that you are doing everything in your power to protect your business from a cyber attack, it is important that you learn the truth about the cyber threats small businesses face. Keep reading as we dispel seven of the most common misconceptions businesses have about network security and the steps that you should be taking to protect your business from a data breach.
Misconception #1: "My Business is Too Small to be a Target"
Perhaps the biggest misconception about network security is that many businesses believe that they are too small to be a target for hackers. After all, why would hackers target a small business when they have more to gain by going after larger corporations? However, this might be the most dangerous misconception a business can have, as it can cause small businesses to not take proper security precautions, leaving them vulnerable to an attack.
The truth is that while most news stories about cyber attacks focus on major breaches at large corporations, businesses of all sizes can fall prey to a data breach. In fact, over forty percent of cyber attacks specifically target small businesses. Since small businesses often believe that they aren't targets for hackers, this actually makes them prime targets since hackers know these companies likely aren't taking the proper precautions to protect themselves. Fortunately, taking a proactive approach to network security can significantly reduce the likelihood that you will fall prey to a cyber attack.
Misconception #2: "Antivirus Software is Enough to Protect My Business"
This is another common misconception that can make your business vulnerable to a cyber attack. Simply installing antivirus software, and even a firewall, on all company computers is not enough to keep your organization safe from a cyber attack. The fact is that no single security layer will be enough to protect your company from every type of malicious attack.
An effective network security plan should then include multiple layers of protection meant to defend against both internal and external attacks. Your company's IT infrastructure should incorporate multiple defense strategies including a perimeter firewall, antivirus software, two-factor authentication, data-at-rest encryption, and intrusion detection. The more barriers you can put between thieves and your data, the better chances you will have of preventing a cyber attack.
Misconception #3: "We Don't Have Anything Worth Hacking"
Some small businesses believe that they are not a target for hackers simply because they do not work in an industry where they handle a great deal of sensitive data. However, regardless of the size of your organization or the industry you work in, your company holds data that will be valuable to hackers. Even the data that you likely have on file about your employees such as employment records, tax information, banking information, and social security numbers are prime targets for hackers. Additionally, if your business processes customer payments, customer credit card information can also be an extremely valuable target.
Of course, it is also important to remember that not all hackers are looking to steal your data. Some cybercriminals will extort a business by uploading ransomware to their system. This then allows the hacker to encrypt your data, locking you out of your own network. The hackers will then extort you by offering to return your data in exchange for a ransom. Thusly, even if your business does not deal with much sensitive or proprietary data, you still need to take network security seriously, as cyberattacks can take many forms.
Misconception #4: "Network Security is Only an IT Department Concern"
If you aren't in IT, you may believe that you don't need to worry about cyber security, as this is something your IT department will take care of for you. However, the fact is that businesses cannot rely solely on technology to keep their data secure. Network security requires the attention of the entire staff working together to keep data secure. While technology plays a key role in securing your company's data, it is your staff that could prove to be your greatest security risk.
Without proper training requirements and security procedures in place, your staff may inadvertently open a malicious link or use an insecure password that could compromise your organization's cyber security. It is then imperative that every single employee receives training on their role in preventing a cyber attack and the steps that they should be taking to ensure network security, including enabling two-factor authentication and routinely updating their passwords, using a complex, unique password for each account.
Misconception #5: "We Can Handle Network Security Internally"
Many small businesses believe that the best way to handle network security is internally through their IT department. However, this is a huge mistake that can leave you vulnerable to a cyberattack. The fact is that, as a small business, you have limited resources to invest in your IT department, and your limited IT personnel are probably stretched too thin to research and invest in the latest IT infrastructure. This is where small and medium-sized businesses can stand to gain significantly by partnering with an IT managed service provider (MSP) to supplement their IT needs.
Partnering with an MSP for your network security needs can give you access to tools and strategies that you would not have had the resources to implement on your own. MSPs allow small businesses to access the same IT services traditionally only available to major corporations, as the costs of hiring the best technicians as well as researching and implementing the latest technology are spread across the MSP's customers. This ensures that small businesses have access to the network security tools they need at a price they can afford.
Misconception #6: "Our Network is Already Secure"
Complacency is one of the biggest threats to the cybersecurity of small businesses. The fact is that proper network security requires constant monitoring and testing in order to ensure that there are no weaknesses in your network security that have previously gone undetected. If you believe that your network is secure and you are not doing anything to improve or adapt your network security, then you are extremely vulnerable to a cyber attack.
Proper network security requires that you perform regular security assessments and audits to search for weaknesses. The best way to ensure the safety of your organization's data would be to partner with a security company that has the ability to scan your network for weaknesses and inventory all the devices connected to it. An outside company has the knowledge and experience to pinpoint vulnerabilities you may have missed, significantly improving your company's security.
Misconception #7: "We Don't Need Network Security Training"
As we previously mentioned, your staff is actually the greatest threat to your network security. In fact, many network breaches are the result of careless (though usually not malicious) actions taken by staff, such as opening an email from an unknown sender, storing their passwords insecurely, or inadvertently opening malicious links. Investing in continued network security training is then one of the most important things that you can do to protect your company's data.
Do not assume that a one-time training is enough to keep your network safe. The fact is that you should be retraining employees on an annual basis in order to refresh their memories on cyber security best practices, as well as to educate them on the latest threats. Investing in employee awareness training, and creating a cyber-security-conscious culture at your company, empowers employees to identify and report security threats, greatly reducing your company's vulnerability to cyberattacks.
Take Action Today!
There are many network security misconceptions held by small business owners that can leave them vulnerable to cyberattacks. The fact is that no matter how small your business is, or what kind of data you handle, you need a comprehensive multi-layered network security strategy in order to protect your business from a potentially costly cyber-attack. This should include implementing multiple layers of IT infrastructure to protect your data against hackers, as well as regular training in order to ensure that your staff has the tools they need to protect your company's sensitive data.
Taking proactive steps to protect your company's data is critical in order to ensure your business's cyber security. Of course, one of the best things that you can do to protect your company is to seek professional IT support. A managed service provider has access to the tools you need to safeguard your data and prevent your company from becoming another cyberattack statistic.
Feel free to contact our IT company to learn about our network security solutions that can be tailored to your business's needs, ensuring you have access to the most effective network protection.