From script kiddies to nation-state-sponsored groups, modern cybersecurity threats can put both small businesses and big companies at risk. All it takes is a system vulnerability or a single weakness to compromise the integrity of an organization. And what’s worse, business owners and even security experts are unaware of the vulnerabilities that exist in their IT infrastructure. These cyberattacks can be so stealthy that it takes months to detect them and years to figure out the true extent of the damage and impact within the affected networks and systems.
For example, let’s look at the most notorious hack of 2020, where Russian government-backed hackers gained illegal access into the Texas-based SolarWinds systems and added malicious code into the company’s software. The attackers sent out the payload to SolarWinds users disguising it as software updates that included the malicious code (a.k.a., malware). The level of access these hackers have now is so pervasive, it is unknown if they are still “in” the systems, able to spy on its users or secretly modify the targeted IT resources hosting the software.
So, if you want to protect your business from cyber threats big and small, it is important to identify and acknowledge the weaknesses in your security infrastructure and act as soon as possible. Here are some common cybersecurity weaknesses in modern-day business cybersecurity plans.
Failure to cover cybersecurity basics
The most common weaknesses and vulnerabilities used by hackers in the past reveal that many organizations fail to implement even the most basic of cybersecurity measures. Big and small businesses often fail to find and patch their vulnerabilities. These can cause data leaks, resource unavailability, and the loss of critical assets. The motivations and the skillsets of potential cybercriminals are diverse, so are the sophistication levels of their attacks. Hwoever, technology is not the only reason behind security risks. People factor in as a risk as well.
A strong, company-wide security culture and the understanding of simple cybersecurity practices plays a big role in preventing cyber attacks. This is why we should implement basic preventative risk mitigation strategies like educating on password security for business, which starts at secure password creation.
Lack of a cybersecurity policy
Cybersecurity procedures and policies explain how employees, partners, consultants, and end-users access internet resources and online applications. Generally, these policies define the security expectations, responsibilities, and roles in the organization. If you do not make cybersecurity policies in the first place and your employees do not engage with it, then your company may face cybersecurity-related risks and threats. The key here is to “practice what you preach” as a security-minded company.
So, your cybersecurity policy should guarantee that your business will do the following:
- identify cybersecurity risks (with Intrusion Detection Systems)
- protect the organization’s information and network (with Intrusion Prevention Systems)
- establish cybersecurity governance (by implementing a cybersecurity framework)
- detect unauthorized activities (by implementing RBAC, or role-based access & control measures and policies)
- detect and handle risks associated with third parties (by using IT VRM, or Vendor Risk Management, tools)
Confusing compliance with cybersecurity policies
Another reason that can put organizations at risk is that they confuse compliance with cybersecurity policies. Ensuring compliance with the organization’s rules is not like protecting it against cyberattacks unless those rules clearly focus on cybersecurity. A company’s risk management requires that every person in the organization play their role in keeping the security level related to them.
Maintaining security is a company-wide role and responsibility. After seeing the increasing number of cyberattacks, many organizations are still not sufficiently prepared for cybersecurity. Only a few organizations have a cyber incident response plan to protect themselves from cybercriminals.
Use of unsecured resources and outdated systems
If you use an unsecured network in your organization, it is easy for cybercriminals to access your system. Once they infiltrate the network, they can easily access all of your IT infrastructure components and devices connected to that network. Although it is the simplest step towards a secure online environment, many business owners still neglect this aspect of their digital presence. Similarly, using insecure communication channels can put your organization at risk.
Moreover, using an outdated system can potentially harm your IT infrastructure. Most hardware manufacturers and software developers keep on detecting the security threats that can hurt their users. When they detect a problem, they try to eliminate that problem by updating hardware or software. If your organization is using computers and web applications without updating the operating system and software regularly, your business could be at risk.
Almost 90% of data breaches occur due to human error. A tiny mistake made by an employee could provide an opportunity for cybercriminals to access your business data. Therefore, untrained employees are the biggest vulnerabilities in your organization. It is necessary to educate your workers and provide basic cybersecurity training. This could involve teaching them to create unique and strong passwords, identify different types of attacks, or how to use secure networks.
Protecting your business in today’s digital world can be difficult. Unfortunately, facing security risks is the price we pay for staying connected to others in the online world. However, if you are aware of the weaknesses in your IT infrastructure, you can keep yourself protected from cybercriminals or potentially fight against them.
Talk to your employees to ensure they understand the importance of cybersecurity best practices. Help them by providing thought leadership and guidance, as well as cutting-edge tools to detect and prevent vulnerabilities.