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Small Businesses: Don’t Fall for These Cyber Security Myths

myths vs reality

Dangerous Cyber Security Myths That SMEs Should Be Aware Of

Small and medium sized businesses must avoid believing myths and misconceptions about cyber security to stay focused and proactive in protecting themselves. Cyber threats are consistently present, meaning proactive measures are essential. This article addresses these SME cyber security myths, and touches on the key security actions that SMEs should be taking.

“I don’t have any data worth stealing.”

Data is one of the most valuable assets a business owns and the importance that you place on it should be extremely high.

As a business owner or IT manager, you must do all you can to stop data loss. Data theft has real consequences for everyone involved and can create dangerous situations for customers and employees.

Every stakeholder deserves to have their data protected. Organisations must take action to prevent breaches and reduce the risk of leaks to fulfill their social responsibility.

You don’t want to be responsible for your customers’ data being in the wrong hands.

Commonly leaked data includes but is not limited to:

  • Employee data and HR records.
  • Payment data information.
  • Credit card.
  • Debit card.
  • Billing address.
  • Customer data.
  • Home addresses.
  • Email addresses.
  • Phone numbers.
  • Software code.
  • Health information.

“My business is too small to be attacked.”

This is simply not true. Many people believe that cyber criminals target big companies because they can steal a lot and cause chaos.

Small businesses are also targeted for cyber attacks because they don’t prioritise cyber security. SMEs have limited resources, meaning it is more difficult to allocate funds, time, or employees to deal with cyber. A target with no defences is an easy target.

 

“Anti-virus software is enough.”

There are many routes of entry or methods of attack that anti-viruses fail to address.

Even with good antivirus, you can still be attacked online in many different ways.

First, it is important to realise that malware payloads can become fully undetectable with strong enough encryption. Whilst a lot will be detectable, there is a strong possibility that some will slip through the gaps.

As well as that, attackers can utilise many different exploits against vulnerabilities and exposures that may be within your system. Approximately 70 new vulnerabilities are found daily, which is why it is key to scan your systems all the time.

 

“Our MSP or IT department handles that”

Cyber, albeit intertwined with general IT, is a separate field that requires different expertise. By relying on an IT department or an MSP, you may be leaving gaps in your security. A professional MSP/MSSP should always recommend a third-party cyber security partner. The global best practice is to not mark your own homework – this is the standard and should be applied regardless of size of business.

Furthermore, by outsourcing cyber security experts you massively reduce the workload on your in-house team, ensuring resource efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

 

“Cyber security is not worth it financially.”

Once upon a time, the majority of a business’ assets were physically tangible. Now, the majority of a business’ assets are digital. Businesses must change how they spend money and invest in cyber security to protect their assets.

It is a frequent occurrence that small, honest businesses are forced to shut down after suffering a data breach. A cyber-attack can harm your business financially and reputationally, so it’s important to consider cyber security options.

Furthermore, improving your cyber security can often win you new tenders with bigger clients. Established organisations check potential partners and avoid working with companies that pose a cyber security threat. This can happen if a cyber-attack affects the supply chain, causing harm to their business through a domino effect.

Getting cyber certifications, like Cyber Essentials Plus, proves your business takes cyber security seriously and helps win larger contracts.

 

“We are safe because we have conducted a penetration test.”

Conducting penetration tests is an effective way to analyse your cyber security. However, what many organisations fail to realise is that between penetration tests, your systems are vulnerable.

Without continuous monitoring, there will always be gaps in your security. Organisations that acknowledge this and use both penetration testing and continuous monitoring have the strongest proactive approach.

 

“My staff wouldn’t do that.”

Are you sure?

A majority of cyber attacks are carried out by insiders. There are often financial incentives involved with incidents like these.

Employees have access to data that an outside hacker would jump for joy to obtain. As a business owner, do not underestimate what a disgruntled employee can do.

 

Summary

Small businesses lack cyber security support, so believing myths and common misconceptions can be extremely risky. Hiring cyber security experts from outside is a good way to protect your business using their expertise.

 

References:

Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2023 (GOV UK)

 

 

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