Top 5 Most Common Cybersecurity Errors (And How To Avoid Them)
In recent years, you may have come across a wide range of cybersecurity incidents that have made a lot of headlines. From data breaches to ransomware threats, the list of online attacks is increasing immensely, and the major contributor to this vulnerability is cybersecurity errors.
Running an organization is no easy task as there is a lot at stake. From communication to shopping to running a business, technology plays a significant part in the contemporary world. No matter how small the task may be, we are largely dependent on the latest technology. However, the more we lean on digital services and products, the more vulnerable we are to cybersecurity threats, especially when we overlook basic security protocols.
Data breaches can damage a company's revenue, intellectual property loss, cause them to incur a huge loss in revenue and a leak of personally identifiable information etc. Cyber threats are a serious issue and due to an unfortunate lack of awareness, we often make mistakes. Cybersecurity errors are no different. They are human errors. Without a proper mechanism to monitor, educate, and implement security protocols, any organization of any size is at risk.
Understanding cybersecurity basics is crucial. Cyber attacks can be of any form. Carelessly clicking an insecure link, downloading a harmful email attachment, a malicious ad that randomly pops up, or even a phishing scam can lure you into sharing personal or confidential information. A malware could attack your system to collect data, compromising your organization's sensitive information or locking you out of your system! The consequences of cyber threats are grave.
Here is a curated list of 5 common cybersecurity errors that you should avoid:
1. Using outdated software and systems
The world is rapidly changing and merely staying on top of current affairs is not enough. One must also keep all digital products up to date.
The intention is simple. Digital products and applications are constantly updated to contend against advanced hacks and cyber threats. Any outdated system, software, or application is prone to new cybersecurity threats that may not have existed before.
What can you do?
- Automating software updates can ensure that no updates are missed.
- Scan for threats and vulnerabilities regularly.
- Ensure that systems involved in storing critical data are secured with the most advanced security protocols.
2. Underestimating Cyber Attacks
A small business is not prone to attacks - is a myth! Organisations of any size are vulnerable. Assuming that you or your business may not come across an online attack is a critical cybersecurity error! Never underestimate cyber attacks.
Here is a brief list of cyber threats to look out for-
- Malware – Viruses, worms, ransomware, trojans, spyware etc., are malicious codes that infect your system to collect, destroy, or modify your data. Ransomware denies access to the system or information unless a ransom is paid.
- Phishing – Disguised as a legitimate email, a message, or even a call, attackers gain sensitive details from unsuspecting victims to help them access the victim’s data – financial or otherwise.
- Man-in-the-middle attack – The perpetrator intercepts two-way communications or data transfers. They could either impersonate one of the parties or eavesdrop on the communication to collect the information.
- Denial of service (DoS) – DoS attacks flood the system with traffic or trigger a crash, shutting down the system or entire network.
- SQL injection – A malicious code is injected into the SQL, resulting in the perpetrator accessing, modifying, or gaining admin rights to the victim’s database.
- Zero-day exploit – This type of attack uses an undetected network vulnerability to exploit the target system.
- Password attack – Another common cyber-attack where the user’s passwords are deciphered to access sensitive information.
What can you do to avoid this?
- Educate yourself on the latest and known cyber attacks.
- Ensure that all safety protocols are in place and followed to avoid vulnerabilities.
3. Ignoring password vulnerabilities
If you think having your high school name combined with your lucky number is your strongest password, then you are wrong! People tend to create passwords with words and numbers that can be easily remembered since most systems expect you to have an alphanumeric password. Unfortunately, an alphanumeric password is not enough to keep you and your information safe. Quite far from it, in fact.
A stronger password is an alphanumerical gibberish. Any words that can be easily guessed phrases, sequential numbers, or words found in the dictionary are completely unsafe. Hackers use brute force attacks, dictionary attacks, or advanced software to crack your password. Weak passwords are easy to guess and are the reason behind most security breaches.
What you can do to protect your passwords:
- Ensure all systems, data, and anything sensitive and confidential are password protected.
- Use randomly generated passwords – a combination of a string of unrelated alphabets, non-sequential numbers and special characters. The longer the password, the better.
- Change passwords at regular intervals to avoid further risk.
4. Lack of cybersecurity awareness among employees
From phishing scams to downloading data from malicious websites, employees are often oblivious to the consequences of their actions. If employees are unaware of a security threat, how can it be recognized? Without the appropriate training, the employees are prone to making mistakes that could compromise an organization's data or lead to a cyber attack.
Therefore, training your employees on cybersecurity basics is vital for the smooth running of your organization. Effective training will educate your staff about the known cyber threats and inform them of the appropriate policies that need to be followed. The security policies will help them cultivate healthy practices while browsing the internet.
How can you create awareness among employees?
- Create an efficient training model for all your employees.
- To cultivate cyber-safe practices, ensure that the training isn’t a one-time event, as new threats are constantly emerging.
- Draft a clear and concise security policy for internet browsing, social media use, email etc.
- Incorporate strong and secure passwords wherever necessary.
5. Relying on self-taught techniques instead of hiring an IT team
You are in for a shock if you believe that you don't need an IT team to care for your business' cybersecurity; this is one of the most common cybersecurity errors. As a business owner, you can't draft a cyber security plan on your own! You need specialized resources who are trained in assessing risks and taking necessary precautions to prevent them. It is essential for every business to have an IT team to monitor, assess and control any security threat or breach.
However, it is important to remember that cybersecurity isn't just an IT team's issue. It's the entire organization's responsibility to ensure that they avoid basic cybersecurity errors and practice cyber-safe behaviour.
What can you do to prevent cyber attacks?
- Employ a dedicated team of cybersecurity professionals.
- Ensure that there are necessary security protocols to safeguard the organization against any cyber threats, and all protocols must be followed efficiently.