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Refusing to Be the Victim: 7 Cyber Security Pitfalls That Business Owners Must Avoid at All Costs

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cyber securityWith technology constantly in flux, staying on top of the latest trends in cybersecurity is essential for all small businesses. While you may seem to be getting by with your outdated security systems, you’ll realize how ineffective your security is when you have a security breach—but by then it may be too late. The following list reveals eight cybersecurity pitfalls that should be avoided at all costs.

1. Never Updating Your Antivirus Software

We’ve all been there. Postponing an antivirus update because we don’t feel like restarting our computers or we’re simply too busy. While this one moment may not seem like a big deal, failing to update your system can result in serious security breaches. Every time you miss an update, the system you use becomes more and more outdated.

Similarly, any problems you may be experiencing with your system might easily be fixed with an update. Alternatively, avoiding these updates only exacerbates these problems, likely creating the perfect opportunity for hackers to make their presence known.

When it comes to using an antivirus as the only method of protection, businesses must understand this is hardly the solution they need to handle their cybersecurity. The reality is that an antivirus offers a minimal amount of protection and should only be a stepping stone in your arsenal against cyber attacks.

If you’ve been relying solely on an antivirus, it’s time to start using more modernized technology. Technologically savvy security solutions use AI, real-time behavioral analysis, and machine learning to create the strongest line of defence for your company.

2. Using Weak Passwords

Passwords are more important than ever in today’s world. As technology advances, so should our methods for protecting our privacy. If you haven’t changed your passwords recently, use weak passwords, or fail to keep your passwords confidential, you’re setting yourself up for a cybersecurity catastrophe.

Passwords must be increasingly complex and cryptic. Modern hackers can crack a password of eight characters in under 18 milliseconds. If you thought your tried and true “password1” would stand a chance, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Are you used to using the same old passwords? Change your point of view here with these password protecting tips:

  • Update passwords every three months
  • Avoid similar passwords
  • Use passphrases or multiple words
  • Passphrases shouldn’t make sense
  • Use different passphrases or passwords on multiple systems
  • Never use default passwords
  • Never email passwords

3. Not Using Multi-Factor Authentication

With multi-factor authentication or MFA, systems require that an individual uses multiple methods for authentication. MFA serves to authenticate a user’s credentials and verify the user’s identity.

Ultimately, MFA systems require a password and a secondary form of information for the login process. Oftentimes this can be a text message or email with a unique code, mobile applications with an authenticator, physical items like smart cards or USB drives, or biometrics using fingering scans, voice recognition, retina scans, and the like.

4. Failure to Engage User Lockdown

In the event of a cyber attack, user lockdown should always be engaged. The reason that so many ransomware and malware attacks are effective is that the compromised user gained unrestricted access to the system. To avoid this scenario, users must be locked down as a way to prevent putting the entire organization at risk.

With user lockdown in place, any breach should be contained to whatever information that specific user has access to. In a working environment, User Access Control should be employed. With UAC, shared content is accessed as needed and otherwise locked down and users cannot gain administrator privileges. While this may seem excessive to some, it may save your company from becoming completely compromised one day.

5. Sharing Networks

In the workplace, it isn’t uncommon to find that certain networks and equipment are shared. For example, some smaller businesses may have their guest WiFi and business WiFi operating on the same network. While this may seem relatively harmless for a smaller company, this sort of practice poses a huge threat.

Networks need to be isolated. A business that has its servers on the same network as free WiFi is setting themselves up for a future cyber attack. This information and equipment must be isolated to a specific network to ensure the highest level of security.

6. Printing Confidential Information

While printing confidential information isn’t inherently dangerous, many businesses fail to take the necessary measures to destroy these copies after they’ve printed them. In an ideal world, no business would ever print out their precious information. In the event that sensitive information does make it to the printed copy, the paper shredder should never be too far away.

Regardless of how much you crumble or tear the paper, shredding is one of the only effective ways to destroy sensitive information. To truly be safe with shredded documents, ensure that they are thrown away in separate bags. This will make it even harder for anyone to try to tape them back together.

7. Easy Access to Backup Data

You can be as careful as you want with your information, but if you don’t have an airtight system in place when backing up your data, you’re putting yourself at risk again. Whether you backup your data to the cloud or you use a hard drive, you need to make sure that this information remains protected.

With the cloud, you should take measures to make sure your information is encrypted and that everything is password or passphrase protected. With a hard drive, you should go the old-fashioned route and store this in a lockbox or safe.

Don’t wait for something to happen to start taking care of your cybersecurity. Take action today by using this guide as inspiration to beef up all aspects of your security.

Stanislaus Okwor is a Web Designer / Developer based in Lagos - Nigeria. He is the Director at Stanrich Online Technologies. He is knowledgeable in Content management System - Wordpress, Joomla and PHP/MySQL etc

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