Information technology is critical to modern businesses. For small businesses, it has furnished them with a leverage to compete against much larger rivals. However, most small companies are not taking cyber security as seriously as they should. Here are some of their worst mistakes.

Considering themselves insignificant

Most of us assume that hackers are mainly interested in accessing the cyber structures of big organisations, where the payoff is enormous. While it is true that anyone would prefer to invest their time and energy on something that gives the highest returns, it does not work the same way  when talking about cyber security.

Larger corporations have enough resources to hire a lot of cyber security experts and invest in advanced systems. Since infiltrating these systems is an arduous process, many hackers shift their focus to smaller enterprises where they will likely be met with much less resistance.

Nowadays, even small businesses possess significant amounts of confidential information, including their customers’ payment and bank information. Companies of any size should regard themselves as possible targets of cyber security threats and take the necessary measures to protect themselves accordingly.

Using free software and applications

Startups are usually hard-pressed for funds, so they opt to take advantage of cloud-based applications and free software to minimise expenditures. These free services are not equipped with the degree of protection needed to keep a company’s confidential data safe. Sometimes, they do not even adequately ensure compliance with international and local data protection laws.

The most popular free internet email services are Gmail and Yahoo Mail. Both of them have billions of accounts, so if a business runs into a problem while using them, getting help from a personalised and urgent custom service is very unlikely. Investing on a paid SaaS to host business applications and data provides greater flexibility, discretion and security.

Using illegally procured software

Hacker or illegal activity online

Illegal software is a trap for small businesses. To cut costs, some small enterprises deliberately acquire the software the need through illegal means. They may also do this unwittingly, such as not being able to distinguish between licensing models.

While leading developers, including Microsoft and Adobe, are now aggressively hunting and prosecuting individuals and organisations who use their software without permission, the illegality is not the only problem. Illegal software also tend to have malware infection. Some parties that illegally distribute proprietary software embed the installation files with malware, which will then serve as a backdoor access to the company’s data, applications and network.

Poor handling of portable devices

Relying on smartphones, tablets, laptops, external hard disks, and USB drives allow small businesses to cut costs, while enabling mobility and increasing flexibility at the same time. Although they are convenient, these devices are also prone to loss or theft.

Small businesses rarely have policies and procedures for security and management of portable devices. If they fall into the wrong hands, these gadgets could expose confidential information to malicious people.

Small businesses may not have the resources to keep track of cyber threats and trends, making them vulnerable to cyber security mistakes. However, these mistakes can cost them or even put them out of business. Investing in the proper tools and cyber security services may cost some money, but it can save small businesses from the far greater price of cyber security mistakes.

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