Companies have a lot to lose when their cybersecurity is compromised. Besides profit, they can also lose the trust of the most valuable people they work with, including their customers, partners, and stakeholders.
Data breaches and other Internet security-related incidents can also affect brand reputation, lead to intellectual property theft, and other costly repercussions.
Regardless of the size of the company, cybersecurity is essential, and that’s a well-known fact.
However, many smaller businesses don’t see it as a necessity because they think hackers won’t even think about stealing their data, which explains their lack of cybersecurity protocols. Some even choose not to hire IT service professionals for the job.
But this is a mistake. Whether you’re running a small, medium, or large enterprise, you need to be aware and avoid these five bad habits that can hamper the Internet security of your business:
1. Anything that makes login insecure
The most common mistakes involve insecure login, which would have easily been corrected. However, this particular category is quite broad and can take on many forms, such as:
- Weak or common passwords – A lot of employees unknowingly use weak or common passwords like their personal information (e.g., name or birthday) because they fear that they might forget their login credentials and get locked out of their account.
To remedy this, instruct your employees to use different character combinations, preferably with numbers, small and capital letters, and symbols. For example, instead of using “newyork,” make it into something more challenging to guess like “N3wY0rK!”
- Failing to use multi-factor authentication – Multi-factor authentication requires users to provide two or more verification factors, such as a password and one-time PIN, to access an account and perform critical transactions. Failure to do this weakens login security.
- Using passwords repeatedly – The effort in changing passwords every couple of months would be moot if users use the same ones over and over again. This also applies to multiple accounts with the same login credentials.
- Sharing login credentials, even with coworkers – Login credentials should be kept private. You’ll never know if other people will use your account for malicious activities.
- Writing down credentials in easily accessible places – Recording username-password combinations is much like sharing them with other people, maybe even be worse because you won’t know who will use the information. If there is a need to write these down, keep your notes inside a locked drawer or any container with sufficient physical security.
- Not logging out before leaving your terminal – Leaving a terminal unattended is already a big no-no in cybersecurity. What would make matters worse is failing to log out before vacating your work premises.
The good news is that you can easily avoid most of these bad habits concerning login security. Start by ensuring that all your employees have enough information and are trained about the best practices in handling their login credentials.
Companies can also implement technical security measures, such as automatically ending login sessions during terminal inactivity, multi-step authentication, and the automatic generation of strong passwords.
2. Accessing company data via an insecure public Wi-Fi
Public internet is a public menace, but not everyone seems to see it as such.
Make sure that your employees know that public networks serve as a treasure trove for hackers. Using public networks makes it easier for cybercriminals to install malware and launch other digital attacks to the device, its user, and the company or network it belongs to.
In case you or your employees genuinely need to access the company system through a public network, VPN can help you secure company data while still getting some work done remotely.
3. Opening questionable links or emails
Email is one of the most targeted communication channels because of the important files that are usually sent here. This is why cyberattacks like email phishing and spoofing
Besides hiring business email service providers, here are some tips on what your employees can do in case they spot questionable links or emails:
- Watch out for anything fishy in the email message. If it’s asking for something suspicious and out of character, it’s likely to be spam.
- Verify the sender. If the email address is unfamiliar, research the domain name (the text that follows the “@” symbol) to see if it’s legit.
- When in doubt, send it to the email administrator. They can help verify if it is indeed a spam email.
- Inform the IT administrator of any suspicious-looking email, even if the attachment or links it contains remains unopened. This will help warn other employees who may also be targeted by the same email.
- Never forward the email to anyone else to reduce the chances of a malicious link or attachment being clicked on accidentally.
4. Not attending cybersecurity training
When an employee – or even the owner of the company – is not well-versed with cybersecurity, the odds of an attack being successful increases significantly. So, even if you don’t think it’s necessary, make sure you undergo cybersecurity training with your employees.
This could help you avoid cyber threats such as unsecured links and phishing scams, and ultimately save your company from enormous losses.
Regularly train and re-train all employees – both remote and in-house. This way, they will know how to implement proper security protocols, know what to do in case of lost or stolen devices, avoid haphazard clicking and, ultimately, subvert any attacks on the company.
5. Assuming you won’t be a target
This is probably the biggest mistake any business owner can make in cybersecurity.
Avoid making assumptions that cybercriminals won’t target smaller companies. Even if you’re not running a big enterprise, don’t let your guard down. If you do, cybercriminals will find ways to exploit your lack of cybersecurity plan and end up costing you your business in the process.
Work only with IT experts
Cyberattacks have several consequences that can affect a company’s bottom line, reputation, operations, and valuable assets. This means that everyone is affected and must take part in maintaining a solid IT security.
To achieve this, your company must have clear protocols and policies in ensuring that everyone in your organizational chart knows what to do in case of an attack (and to prevent one). Work with IT experts to ensure that there’s no chink in your cybersecurity armor.