10 data security mistakes small and midsized businesses must avoid

Turn on the news and you’re sure to hear about some major data breach, and the victims in those cases always appear to be either big corporations or government institutions. Now, those companies take data security quite seriously and pour tons of resources to keep their defenses up-to-date. If they are at risk, imagine how easy it must be for hackers and other malicious entities to bypass the security protocols in place for small and medium-sized businesses. That’s why you need to investigate gaps in your company’s data security measures and prevent the following data security mistakes from happening:

1. Not knowing where you’re going wrong

Only if you admit to a problem will you move towards a solution. Data security is a continuous process since new threats emerge constantly and perpetrators attempt new ways to access your precious data.

So think beyond the basic security measures like firewalls and antiviruses. Realize the full extent of the harm a data security breach can do to your company and make sure suitable protection is offered to all your data.

2. Taking the wrong approach

Most SMBs go into data security with a compliance-based mindset. But data security is not just about listing compliance requirements and then checking off the entries with the least resources and effort possible. This kind of approach leaves loopholes in the security that crumble under more severe threats.

To become truly effective, companies should safeguard their most valuable assets and employ an approach based on existing threats. Identify the valuable data, examine potential threats and modes of attack and decide how vulnerable your company is to a specific scenario. Use this extensive risk assessment to then complement your compliance requirements and plug any data security gaps.

3. Working with an uninformed staff

Your employees are your greatest asset as well as the most prominent threat to your data security. A single unsafe click by an employee on your network can threaten your entire business. That’s why you need to implement security awareness programs so your staff becomes aware of the best online security practices.

Update your staff about standards and policies, and regularly ask them to review the current security measures. Only when you train and educate your staff properly will you have a strong data security program in place.

4. Avoiding backups

As ransomware attacks grow in number, it’s a fool’s errand to leave anything to chance. That’s why you need to back up your systems and have contingencies in place for hardware failure, theft, and malicious cyber activity. Without a backup, you stand to lose all existing data on your system.

Different types of data backups exist and you should know what works for your business. Also, it’s a good idea to store your backup in a safe offline location. What’s more, backup apps are available that fully or partially automate the process on your behalf. Create a backup strategy, regarding what’s going to be backed up, the frequency and post-attack recovery plans.

5. Underfunding your data security

Data Security

Data security is often expensive, and it’s often the first thing to go when SMBs need to save money. But this underfunding increases the chances of dire cyberattacks. The resulting data leak may not only affect your business’ reputation but also lead to a lawsuit and the loss of clients.

Finalize your security budget only after accounting for all the risks faced by your company. Calculate how much you’ll have to spend on data security, and how much more you stand to lose if you leave this avenue underfunded. Comprehensive security policies and smart planning help you form a reliable IT security for small businesses in an inexpensive way.

6. Underestimating insider threats

SMBs should never disregard the problem of malicious insiders. Instead of focusing all efforts on protecting the digital perimeter, small firms should focus on preventing the theft and misuse of valuable company details from people inside the company.

Take suitable precautions to detect and respond to internal threats in the company. These measures often feature smart access policy, user activity logging, and minimal background checks.

7. Running systems with outdated software

data security mistakes

Company employees often use the same software they know and are comfortable with. The tiniest UI change can often take a month to become accustomed to and disrupt the normal routine of employees considerably. Small businesses should be flexible when adapting or upgrading new solutions.

8. Granting unchecked user privileges

Assigning a certain set of privileges to one user is a great way to establish the scope of access that users must have. This enables them to access apps and data directly while blocking them from other sensitive data. This tool is useful for protecting your data if your account is breached and preventing insider attacks.

Unfortunately, most SMBs don’t use this tool and grant complete privileges to new accounts without restrictions. The right thing to do would be to grant minimum privileges to new users by default. Companies must increase the scope of their access only when it’s absolutely essential.

9. Mishandling your passwords

You must secure access to data properly while establishing your data security strategy. Use passwords whenever possible and manage them carefully. Refrain from using weak or default passwords. It’s also not a good idea for employees to share a single account. Prevent employees from sharing passwords with one another and promote careful password management.

10. Failing to terminate accounts

data security mistakes

Lots of SMBs fail to establish a comprehensive procedure for terminating staff. Once the worker is terminated, their account stays on and companies even hand off these accounts to other staff without altering the credentials. If the account remains unchanged, the former employee may use their access to perform malicious acts like fraud or data theft.

Data security mistakes: Pennywise and pound foolish

SMBs should not always have to think about costs when beefing up their data security strategy. Sure, good security costs quite a bit but you can plug more gaps if you eliminate the common data security mistakes that threaten your organization from within.

Featured image: Pixabay

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