The security of your business is a top priority, and you’re doing everything you can to keep it safe. But are you making the same mistakes that so many other small business owners in Ireland do? If so, it’s time to learn how to avoid them. Here’s a look at some common small business security errors that could put your data at risk:
No Threat Analysis
It’s important to take a look at the threats against your business and identify potential vulnerabilities. This process is called threat analysis, and it may not be as straightforward as it sounds. A threat is anything that could potentially harm your company or its data—a hacker breaking into your network, for example. But a vulnerability is an opportunity for harm—for example, if your network’s firewall isn’t configured properly, it can leave you open to attack from outside entities (or from within).
Threat analysis is even more important when you are moving your business to a new location, changing cloud providers, etc.
Your first step in conducting this kind of analysis should be to understand what types of threats might exist for you:
- External attacks – An outsider who wants to steal sensitive information or destroy parts of your infrastructure by hacking into systems with malicious software (malware)
- Internal attacks – Someone with authorized access who uses their privileges maliciously (like embezzling money)
However, if you are not a security expert, it’s easy to miss a lot of vulnerabilities when conducting a security analysis. However, businesses such as MJ Flood in Ireland and many others conduct security surveys for small businesses.
Lack of Budget
This is a big one. The number one mistake small businesses make when it comes to security is not budgeting for it. If you don’t properly allocate funds for security, your business will be at an increased risk of being hacked or attacked.
To help you figure out how much money you’ll need to spend on security measures and services, think about what kind of data you have and how important that data is to your company’s success. For example, if there are trade secrets stored on company servers, then those servers should be encrypted and backed up regularly (and ideally offsite).
That may cost some money upfront but could save in the long run if a hacker steals any critical information from you—it’s better that they don’t get anything than potentially damaging or destroying something important!
Too Little Employee Security Training
This is a mistake that many small businesses make. Employee security training is more important than ever, and employees should be trained to be aware of phishing attacks, social engineering and other threats.
It’s important for your employees to know what constitutes a threat, what steps they need to take if they suspect one, and how those steps should be reported to the appropriate people in your organization so that action can be taken quickly.
Your policies should cover this information as well as other relevant topics such as:
- The importance of keeping personal devices clean (e.g., by installing antivirus software) and up-to-date with patches from the manufacturer or OS maker;
- How data encryption works;
- Which files should be encrypted;
- Why you shouldn’t reuse passwords across multiple accounts;
- And so on…
Data Leak Oversights
Data leaks can happen in many ways. For example, your employees might accidentally send a customer or third party a sensitive document. Or maybe you’ll be the victim of hackers who infiltrate your systems and steal data.
Data leaks are often caused by oversights, but there’s another reason why they’re so common: human error. In fact, many companies still rely on paper records for important business operations—and this is especially true when it comes to handling sensitive information like customers’ personal details and credit card numbers.
That’s why it’s important not just to protect against potential attacks on your network infrastructure (the hardware and software that keeps everything running smoothly), but also against human errors like accidental data leakage oversights that could expose customer information or other sensitive documents related to company operations.
See our guide to PLI in Ireland.
Failing to Keep Software up to Date
Software updates are important for the security of your business. Software updates can include new features, security patches and bug fixes, but it is also important to keep in mind that software updates can also improve performance.
The only way for you to know if a software update contains changes that impact the performance of your business is by installing it.
To avoid imperceptibly slowing down operations and wasting precious time trying to figure out why your computer feels slower than usual after an update, follow these guidelines:
- Always accept recommended updates from Windows Update or its equivalent on other operating systems (for example MacOS) near-immediately following installation;
- Check the changelogs associated with any other programs that require updating so as not to miss any critical information;
- Make sure automatic updating is enabled at all times so that you don’t forget about manually accepting recommended updates later on down the line;
Relying on Unverified Tools and Solutions
When it comes to your business’s security, you want to know that the tools and solutions you use are safe. That’s why it’s important that you verify any potential tools or solutions before you decide to purchase them.
Tools that haven’t been verified can contain malware or other malicious software, which may put your data at risk of being stolen by hackers who want access to it.
Verifying security tools means looking at their reviews and making sure there aren’t any red flags (such as frequent customer complaints).
You can also look up the company behind the tool itself: check whether they have a good reputation in general, as well as whether they’ve been subject to any lawsuits regarding negligence or breaches.
Security is a complex thing, and there’s no way to avoid making mistakes. But if you’re aware of the most common ones, you can work to avoid them in your own business. And remember: taking action now will help keep your company safe in the future!