What’s the biggest cybersecurity mistake new business owners make? It’s a valid question considering the fact that 58% of cyberattacks hit small business owners and 60% of small business owners hit by a data breach are forced to shut down for good. A number of IT managed service owners recently weighed in, offering free expert advice that can help new business owners avoid the pain and expense of dealing with a ransomware attack, data breach, or other forms of malicious cyberactivity.
Most IT managed service experts agree that the biggest mistake a small business owner can make is underestimating the possibility of being attacked. Matt Mercier, Founder and President of Acapella Technologies, has been working in his field since 1996 and he notes that many startup companies tend to skimp on spending on technology when setting up their IT infrastructure. This results in vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers. As a solution to this problem, Mercier recommends that companies partner with an IT managed service and invest in an IT set-up that is not only secure but scalable to meet future needs while still keeping data safe at all times.
Anthony Buonaspina, the CEO and founder of LI Tech Advisors, concurs with Mercier, noting that many start-ups try to save money by reducing expenditures related to network security. It’s a deadly mistake, as a cyberattack can devastate a startup firm by not only compromising personal data and knocking the company offline but also permanently damaging its reputation. Buonaspina advises start-up firms to not only invest in top-tier cybersecurity tools but also employee training for staff members because, as he points out, employees are the number one security concern in companies and they need ongoing training.
Recent statistics back up Buonaspina’s assertions, showing that the main way hackers gain access to a small business network is via a malicious email with a link or attachment. An employee clicks on the link, believing that it’s important or finding the subject matter interesting, and the hacker then has access to all a company’s private information. Will Buchanan, President of Philantech3 Consulting Group, recently reported that more than 90% of all cyberattacks happen because of failure to use best email and password security practices, and he strongly suggests that new companies focus on these two issues to increase cybersecurity at their firms. While these two issues are certainly not the only cybersecurity practices a company should adopt, Buchanan accurately notes that small business owners would be wise to follow the 80/20 rule and start by making the changes that would have the biggest positive impact on company cybersecurity.
Sadly, as Ilan Sredni from Palindrome Consulting points out, many small companies think they simply can’t be a target of a cyberattack even though the statistics make it clear that this is not the case. As Evan Eakin from Elevate Services Group recently found, some startups completely overlook cybersecurity and don’t bother with even a limited cybersecurity program to deter hackers. While this would be understandable if a business had a very limited cash supply, Mike Shelah from Advantage Industries recently noted that even free services that could boost company cybersecurity are ignored as business owners are either too busy to get them up and running or are simply unaware of what these free features are and how to use them. Turning on two-factor authentication with Microsoft 365, for instance, doesn’t cost a cent but it does drastically improve overall cybersecurity. Shelah also recommends that small business owners turn on the VPN feature on their smartphones and invest in a basic firewall.
It’s important to note that it’s impossible to prevent 100% of cyberattacks at all times. However, hackers typically tend to go after easy targets and leave secure business alone. Small business owners are feeling the heat as many of them don’t have the cybersecurity tools and training needed to keep their systems secure and safe at all times. Thankfully, there are some simple yet effective ways that startup owners can protect themselves from attacks. Using basic cybersecurity practices such as choosing strong passwords and setting up two-factor authentication is a must.
Using a VPN as much as possible is also a good idea, especially for small business owners that rely on cloud storage and SaaS platforms to do their work. Partnering with an IT managed service provider may seem unrealistic but small business owners may be surprised to discover that it’s not as expensive as it may seem.
Many IT services specialize in working with startup firms, offering tailored, personalized, scalable services at a very reasonable price. These services often include the employee training and testing services that new companies need to help employees learn how to use the tools and technologies at their disposal without endangering the company and its invaluable data.