The 7 Deadly Cyber Sins of Small Business Owners

The 7 Deadly Cyber Sins of Small Business Owners

Each day, we work with many small business owners and decision makers on a variety of security and resiliency issues. While they remain worried about building fires, COVID-19, and hurricanes, they don’t quite realize that one of the greatest threats to their business is that 2 x 4 inch screen that spends most of the day in their pocket … or the 1 x 1.5 foot slab of circuits and wires that sits beside their desk all day.

It is infinitely easier for a hacker or identity thief to steal money or destroy a business than it is for an old-school thief to break in to a brick-and-mortor shop and raid the cash drawer.

Cyberthieves set themselves apart from typical thieves in several different ways:

  • They can do it from thousands of miles away
  • They only need to use their fingers and their laptops
  • They rarely get caught

If you have a store-front business, would you leave the entrance door wide open for anyone to walk through anytime … even after closing hours?  Would you use the lock or not?  If you have an alarm system, do you arm it all the time or just some of the time?  Would you bother to connect the security cameras have been installed for years in your store?

Most people don’t realize that spending thousands of dollars on fancy cybersecurity software to be protected is really unnecessary.  In fact, most people don’t use the tools that THEY ALREADY HAVE!!  Just like not bothering to lock your car door or setting the alarm to your home, by not using these tools, you are inviting someone to take advantage of you, and it is a huge mistake.

Here are 7 deadly cybersecurity sins that most individuals and small business owners commit daily, leaving themselves wide open to be destroyed:

Sin #1:  Using simple passwords or using the same password EVERYWHERE

Your atonement: Create long passwords - 14 characters or longer - The longer the password, the harder it is to guess (exponentially harder).  Make sure that every account has a unique password (even Facebook and Instagram).

Sin #2:  Not taking the time to configure multi-factor authentication

Your atonement: Enable MFA wherever you can - Email, social media, bank accounts, etc.  Most providers allow for the configuration of MFA … so configure it, and use it!

Sin #3:  Conducting business on an open public WiFi

Your atonement: Don’t! Conducting business using an open public WiFi (such as at your local coffee shop or McDonalds), especially if you are handling sensitive information, is like having your credit card number printed on a hat and wearing it wherever you go.

Sin #4:  Skipping the antivirus option (hint … it’s not an option)

Your atonement: Make sure you have a current antivirus program installed and functional on your computer.

Sin #5:  Failing to keep your computer or phone updated with the latest updates or updated to the most recent version

Your atonement: This is for those of you who still think Netflix only mails DVDs, or that Amazon only sells books.  Software and computer manufacturers are required to provide security patches at no charge to their customers, so there is no excuse not to do this. Ensure that your phone, your computers, and your software (including phone apps) are patched regularly. Also make sure that the programs on your computer (as well as the operating system itself) are still supported. If you don’t want to enable auto-update, set a monthly reminder on your calendar and block off the time to review the available updates and run them.

Sin #6:  Failing to back up your important data

Your atonement: Back up your data - You can get a file-level cloud backup for a fairly cheap price. When all else fails, at least your data isn’t lost for all eternity.  YOU SHOULD ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS HAVE A CURRENT BACKUP OF YOUR DATA!!

Sin #7: Responding to the Nigerian prince

Your atonement: The most important thing that end-users need to know is that “awareness is key.”  Phishing emails are still the #1 vector for cyberattacks.  Good ol’ social engineering. To recognize the threat, “hover” over the URL links with your mouse to see where that click will take you if you click it.  If something doesn’t look, sound, or smell right, DON’T CLICK IT!!!

Avoid business damnation by these 7 deadly sins and revel in the heavenly joy of cybersecurity!

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