Don’t believe everything you’ve heard about cybersecurity. Cybercrime is on the rise and the danger to your business may be greater than you realize.
Underestimating the vulnerability within your IT environment and the willingness of malicious hackers to exploit those vulnerabilities is one of the most expensive, even catastrophic, mistakes your small-to-medium-sized business (SMBs) can make. It’s important to sort fact from fiction when considering how best to protect your business from those who are intent on harming it. A good place to start is by debunking some of the most common and costly cybersecurity myths that persist even today.
Myth 1: Cybercriminals Only Target Large Companies
The news is full of stories about major brands like Neiman Marcus, Volkswagen, and Panasonic getting hacked. Even companies that are undeniably tech-savvy, including Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple, have fallen victim to aggressive cybercriminals.
Those high-profile data breaches and the intense news coverage they receive is precisely why the myth that hackers only target large companies is alive and well. What isn’t being widely reported is the truth that SMBs are the preferred target of most hackers.
The explanation for SMBs being targeted by hackers is quite simple: most don’t believe they can afford the “luxury” of a large IT team or sophisticated cybersecurity measures. That leaves those companies vulnerable to cyber criminals looking for easy access to financial records, customer data, and other sensitive material they can steal or ransom.
Of course, the idea that robust network security is an overpriced luxury is itself another myth, as will be covered later in this article. For now, suffice to say that the cost of a single data breach can quickly run into the tens-of-thousands or hundreds-of-thousands of dollars, even for small businesses. Keep in mind that your liability costs will continue to mount well after a breach is resolved if the hackers use data from your company to harm your customers.
So, don’t fool yourself into thinking that your company is too small for hackers to bother with. Your business could be precisely the opportunity they’re looking for, and they’re always looking.
Myth 2: Your IT Team Is Solely Responsible For Cybersecurity
With so much at stake for your business, customers, and employees, it should be clear that every single person in your company has a role to play in cybersecurity. Your IT team, whether in-house or as a managed service provider, will certainly spearhead the effort by maintaining systems, establishing protocols, and monitoring for malicious activity. Never forget, though, that every connected device and every person using those devices is a potential vulnerability in your company’s network security.
It should come as no surprise then, that, according to Stanford University and a top cybersecurity organization, “an overwhelming majority of cybersecurity problems” are the result of human error. Unfortunately, that same Stanford study points out that many companies don’t have the resources to educate every single employee on the best practices to maintain data and network security.
In that case, the best that most companies can hope for is to implement measures to protect well-meaning employees from themselves. That, of course, starts with strong passwords. Which brings us to our next myth.
Myth 3: A Complex Password Keeps Your Account Secure
Strong, complex passwords are essential to data security, but how strong is strong enough? The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recommends the following best practices for choosing and protecting passwords:
- Use different passwords on different systems and accounts.
- Use the longest password or passphrase permissible by each password system.
- Develop mnemonics to remember complex passwords.
- Consider using a password manager program to keep track of your passwords.
- Do not use passwords that are based on personal information that can be easily accessed or guessed.
- Do not use words that can be found in any dictionary of any language.
If we’re being honest, most of our passwords fail on at least one of the above points. However, even if our every password adhered to every best practice, it still might not be enough. Hackers love cracking passwords and have developed powerful tools and applications that do nothing else. Which is why CISA also recommends using multi-factor authentication whenever possible.
Multi-factor authentication, or MFA, requires a user to provide two or more pieces of evidence to verify their identity to use an app or access a network. Think of MFA as your bank asking you to provide a photo ID, account number, and a physical key to access your safe deposit box. Without all three, you’re not getting in, and neither is a criminal who might manage to steal one factor of your multi-factor authentication.
Myth 4: Antivirus Software is All You Need
If you don’t have antivirus software (also know as anti-malware) installed on every single computer in your business, stop reading right now and go install it. It really is that important. But it’s also just the beginning, and far too many companies have been lulled into a false sense of security by believing that the latest version of a big-name anti-malware will keep them protected long-term.
Cybercriminals create new types of malware attacks every day as they continue to find innovative (and increasingly malicious) ways to target SMBs. This is why a Managed Service Provider (MSP) is a great option for many businesses. A MSP provides additional protection against cybercriminals through services like network monitoring, around the clock IT support, data backups, and patch management services, just to name a few. And before you balk at the idea that managed IT services might cost too much, let’s take a look at our final myth.
Myth 5: Cybersecurity is Too Expensive for SMBs
This myth comes from the mistaken belief that a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy requires a full-time, in-house staff of IT specialists to keep it running. Frankly, a lot of big businesses choose not to take on the cost and complexities of finding and retaining high-cost, high-demand IT professionals to manage and protect their systems. Instead, they turn to a Managed Service Provider like Aureon who have the people, programs, hardware, expertise, and redundancies to guarantee a fully-functioning IT support system at all times and under all conditions.
By doing so, they put the responsibility of recruiting, training, and incentivizing IT experts on their provider. This provides constant coverage and also helps to control costs because the MSP can distribute their expenses over multiple clients, so no single company has to bear the burden of sustaining a full team of IT professionals.
MSP teams also include experts in all IT specialties, including networking, servers, workstations, applications, and more. Most SMBs would be lucky to be able to afford just one specialist, much less a full team.
Most importantly, though, is that IT as a Service (ITaaS) is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Solutions are scalable and designed to meet the evolving needs of your business – keeping your company connected, protected, and profitable.
Schedule a Free IT Risk Assessment for Your Company
Aureon is pleased to offer a no-cost, no-obligation IT Risk Assessment, which is the critical first step to understanding and meeting the cybersecurity, connectivity, and network needs of your company. Please follow the link below to submit a pre-assessment questionnaire or to schedule a pre-assessment consult with an Aureon IT expert.