Top 10 Common Cybersecurity Mistakes in 2023
March 13, 2023
By Rahul Mahna
In 2023, the cost of cybercrime reached a whopping $8 trillion. Experts expect cybercrime costs to businesses to increase to $10.5 trillion over the next two years.
Cyber breaches cost businesses thousands of dollars each year, often due to common cybersecurity mistakes.
Luckily, preventing these common mistakes is simple. If businesses do not have the skills internally, they can work with an outsourced managed IT service provider to safeguard their networks, applications and other digital assets.
We’ve compiled a list of the top ten most common cyber threats and mistakes impacting businesses in 2023 to give businesses a running start.
1. Relying on Antivirus Software Alone
Antivirus solutions have been the gold standard in cybersecurity for many years. This technology scans company files for known viruses. Some antivirus products also feature malware threat response services.
However, as cyber criminals' tactics have evolved, so have the technologies used to stop them. While they are still helpful for modern businesses, a business’s cybersecurity strategy should not rely on antivirus software alone.
For example, endpoint detection and response (“EDR”) and extended detection and response (“XDR”) are solutions to detect potential threats. They offer an automated response, to protect businesses even after hours.
2. Not Understanding Risk Profiles
Businesses may think an IT breach will not happen to them. In fact, cyberattacks happen all the time. They may not even know that a hack has happened in their workplace until it is too late.
This is why it is so critical for businesses to understand their risk of breaches. Doing a risk analysis can show where their IT security strategy is working and where it needs work.
Understanding risk profiles can help businesses prepare for the unexpected.
A risk analysis is best done by an independent third party. Businesses should select a vendor who is reliable, has extensive knowledge in audits and will perform an analysis that does not just follow a stated framework, but is personalized to the specific circumstances of the business.
3. Over-Reliance on IT Departments
Cybersecurity may be within an IT department's wheelhouse. However, breaches affect everyone in the workplace. As such, a business’s cybersecurity strategy should be all hands on deck.
Often, there is a strong reliance on the IT department, as it relates to threat detection and response to an incident; however, all employees should be actively working to help prevent these breaches from happening in the first place.
Employees need to be trained in cybersecurity basics. Some of the most common cybersecurity mistakes happen when employees use public wi-fi connections, click on phishing links and fail to monitor webcams.
It is also essential to inform employees about the most critical assets of the business. For example, if handling sensitive personal information, employees should be aware of the regulations surrounding it and not fall into common cybersecurity mistakes.
4. Not Seeing Cybersecurity as an Investment
A robust cybersecurity system is an investment in a business's future. Unfortunately, many business owners do not see it that way. Instead, they consider the costs of IT security a financial burden.
With fines for breaches and PR nightmares with customers, businesses need to realize that the benefits of a strong cybersecurity strategy far outweigh the costs. In fact, a sound plan could help them bypass their competitors.
Businesses will remain more competitive to their customers when they know their information will be protected. Prospective employees will prefer those firms as well. They will know their work is secure on a highly protected system.
5. Falling for Cyber Scams
Cyber scams are on the rise and they are more dangerous than ever, because businesses and employees are often unaware of common tactics. Some of the most important scams to look out for are:
Phishing emails; Malware and ransomware scams; and Insider cyber threats.
Phishing attacks are arguably the most common of these. These scams happen when criminals send emails or texts to company devices. The user will be directed to download an attachment or click on a link in the email or text.
These types of criminals can be persuasive. For example, they may use another company's branding or email addresses to make the scam look more authentic.
The COVID-19 pandemic also gave rise to new types of online scams. For example, many scammers have started posing as fake non-profits or health organizations to prey on people's generosity.
6. Not Updating Networks and Software
Did you know that failing to update your systems and applications can increase the risk of a breach? If not, it's no wonder, considering what a headache doing company-wide updates can be.
Yet, products are made by humans, and humans are error prone. Updates to systems help reduce errors by including new updates to close loopholes and protect from vulnerabilities.
With frequent software updates, businesses can stay ahead of cybercriminals. Without them, they could be at risk for coordinated cyberattacks by criminals who target companies that do not update their products regularly.
7. Neglecting Employee Training
Basic cybersecurity training is not enough for employees anymore. Employees are often the first point of contact for hackers. After all, hackers know that employees are the least knowledgeable about cyberattacks.
Part of employee training is also incorporating formal cybersecurity policies. Schedule training sessions to discuss and emphasize these policies during the workday.
Rules to include in a business’s formal policy include using company devices on public wi-fi networks, downloading unauthorized software on company devices and not sharing company devices with non-employees.
Create an employee checklist to make sure businesses hit all the most important subjects. For example, teach workers how to properly dispose of data and equipment. And train employees to back up this data in a way that won't compromise its security.
8. Not Using Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication, also known as 2FA or multi-factor authentication (“MFA”), is a security strategy used to log into systems. 2FA creates an extra layer of security over sensitive data.
To do 2FA, businesses need a password and second login method. For example, some systems may require them to log into a system using an authentication code sent to an employee’s email or phone.
Hackers cannot get the code needed to log in without access to an employee’s email or phone. The more difficult businesses make it for a cybercriminal to get into their systems, the less likely they are to try.
9. Reusing Passwords
Does your business use the same password or passwords for all their systems? If so, two-factor authentication may not be sufficient protection. The same is true of shorter passwords and passwords that are not randomly generated.
When creating passwords, try randomly generated strings of numbers and letters, uppercase and lowercase. Also, avoid using patterns in keywords. That includes patterns like 'abcd' and '1234.'
Other password security best practices include using longer passwords. Experts recommend using passwords with 16 characters or more. Also, consider using password managers to store and retrieve login information securely.
Another thing to consider with passwords is who needs access to them. For example, do all the employees need access to every system at the business? If not, consider creating one-time passwords for situations when non-regular users need access to a particular system.
10. Not Thinking About Prevention
The best way to prevent costly breaches at a workplace is to prevent them from happening in the first place. These tips on our list can help. But what happens if businesses do not have an IT department or CIO to prevent cyberattacks? Learn about what managed cybersecurity solutions for companies are and how businesses can use external services to augment what they have.
Are You Making These Common Cybersecurity Mistakes?
Businesses lose millions of dollars to the above cybersecurity mistakes each year. You do not have to be one of them. It’s important for businesses to train their IT departments and employees and follow basic cybersecurity protocols to shore up their operational cyber plans.