The three most common errors business owners make in cybersecurity

Every day, an increasing amount of our business is carried out online. Entrepreneurs across the globe are taking advantage of the ease of an internet-connected world to innovate. Today, consumers are largely relying on the internet to inform and complete their purchases. For small and medium-sized businesses, the message is clear: You aren’t a truly competitive force in the market unless you have an online presence.

However, there is a darker side to all of these connections in an online world. As we do business online, we leave ourselves and our customers open to the numerous risks, such as identity theft, security breaches, and computer viruses. Unfortunately, a lack of online security awareness has been detrimental to many SMEs, with repercussions that can completely shutter business.

Fortunately, modern business owners can learn from the mistakes of others. You can take measures to help protect your business (and customers) across the board. As more and more security information and skill becomes available, we can develop a digital space that is safer for business. Here are the three most common errors business owners in regards to cybersecurity, as well as what you can do to avoid them:

1. Failing to protect your business online

It seems like nearly every week we hear of a new data breach that has left the personal information of employees or customers in the hands of cybercriminals. Accidental errors or negligence on the part of employees can make this task all too easy for those with malicious intent. Although, there have been improvements aimed at making data more secure, data breaches seem to be an increasing trend.

There are certainly multiple things that small to large businesses can do in order to help better protect their private information. For instance, things such as document redaction or data backups can help reduce the amount of information available to steal. Controlling the number of people who have access to information as well as encrypting files can also make a huge difference in better protecting data.

In addition to controlling the number of people who have access to certain information, it can also be useful to limit the ability of employees to access private information on personal devices. It is extremely difficult for companies to ensure that personal devices are properly secured, and if they are lost or go missing, shared data can become available to anyone. In-house computers, tablets, and cell phones rather than personal devices are easier for IT departments to maintain and protect. 

2. A lack of cybersecurity awareness

Employees must also be taught proper security awareness. Although providing and installing protective measures is a great start, it does not help much if the people using the technology are not actively working to protect information as well. Security awareness training and company knowledge are critical components to protecting private information. These types of trainings can help reduce the likelihood of people falling into well-known traps set up by hackers to obtain information.

Surprisingly, this type of training is not always taken as seriously as it should be. One U.K. report indicated that nearly 55 percent of workers were not sure if they had been a part of a cybersecurity training program. Of those, nearly 20 percent were not sure they’d be able to correctly identify a phishing email if they were to receive one. There is clearly significant room for improvement.

Beyond security awareness, an increasing number of companies are taking measures to create better digital citizens by advocating for improved security awareness in their customers. Digital citizenship involves working to create a better, safer online space through the development of a general knowledge base and online norms for behavior. Discussing your company’s strong security measures in your marketing material, proactively outreaching customers regarding best practices for making purchases online, and answering questions via FAQs and blog posts can establish your brand as a leader in your niche in regards to security and ensure that your customers’ information is kept safe.

3. Not hiring cybersecurity experts

To meet the demand of all of these cybersecurity needs across the realm of technology, the number of cybersecurity-based careers is skyrocketing, and entrepreneurs must take note in order to stay competitive. One report indicated that Europe faces a projected skills gap in cubersecurity skills of 350,000 workers by 2022. Small businesses might only need to hire contractors to meet their cybersecurity needs, but larger enterprises may be better off hiring full-time employees to fill these roles.

One of these positions is the security analyst. This position largely entails planning and implementing security measures in order to protect private information. Day-to-day work may include things such as identifying vulnerabilities within a security system and working to strengthen them by reverse-engineering attacks. At this point, most companies employ directly or indirectly at least one security analyst.

Beyond guarding the system, there are also numerous positions to consider filling when it comes to building your workplace’s digital infrastructure. Job titles such as security architect or cybersecurity engineer involve designing security systems that are more difficult for hackers to breach. Furthermore, the person in this position will likely work directly with company executives to determine what information is available and who exactly has access to it.

The field of cybersecurity is growing at a breakneck pace. In order to keep up, there are numerous things that businesses can do to keep their information safe, such as encrypting data, limiting information access, and providing security awareness training. Are you doing enough to stay competitive and protect your data in this shifting digital landscape?

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