Top 5 Cybersecurity Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

Cybersecurity issues keeps getting worse for companies that rely on data to serve their clients and customers. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, criminals committed 1,862 data breaches in 2021. That’s up significantly from the 1,108 breaches the organization reported in 2020.

Today’s cybercriminals now target all types of organizations, including government agencies, small businesses, and large corporations, like Facebook.

While it’s impossible to prevent every possible attack in a rapidly evolving tech landscape, companies can identify some of the biggest cybersecurity mistakes and learn how to avoid them.

1. Forgetting That All Employees Play a Role in Cybersecurity

A lot of data breaches start when one employee makes a bad decision. They might open an email attachment that unleashes malware throughout your network or choose a password that even a novice hacker can crack; therefore, training is a key element to ensure employees are trained on proper usage.

One survey shows that businesses feel vulnerable because:

  • Employees could share data via mobile devices (47%)
  • Staff members could lose mobile devices that contain sensitive data (46%)
  • Employees might use IT resources inappropriately (44%)

Your non-tech employees represent a significant vulnerability that criminals can exploit. Train them about the importance of cybersecurity, identifying potential hazards, and how to stay as safe as possible. Training should cover topics like:

  • Logging out when leaving the workstation
  • Choosing strong passwords
  • Reporting suspicious emails and phone calls
  • Encrypting data when saving it to the network or a device
  • Following IT policies to avoid dangerous websites, apps, and services


2. Failing To Update Cybersecurity Policies Often

You can write and enforce cybersecurity policies that will help protect your business. For example, you might require passwords that use a combination of numbers, letters, and special characters. You could establish user timeouts that log out employees when they’re inactive for a certain amount of time.

The policies you wrote a few years ago probably still apply. That doesn’t mean they offer all of the protection you need.

Reevaluate your IT ecosystem and research emerging threats at least once a year, and update your policies based on what you learn. It shouldn’t take a lot of time, but it can improve your cybersecurity dramatically. Do not leave the topic of cybersecurity as an afterthought when building networks, software, etc., throughout all phases of strategic planning.

3. Waiting To Update Software

Updating software is often a pain. Your IT staff needs to take time distributing packages to all of the machines on your network, which can cause downtime that hurts productivity. Depending on the depth of the update, you might also need to train staff members to use the new version.

Despite the challenges of updating software, you need to follow a schedule that keeps your network safe.

Hackers spend a great deal of time searching for security vulnerabilities that give them access to accounts and networks. It doesn’t even take a lot of knowledge or skill to execute an attack against a known vulnerability. Dark Web sites and forums make it easy for criminals to trade information and even coordinate large attacks.

When software developers learn about vulnerabilities, they start looking for ways to patch the hole. The patches get released as software updates, and you put yourself at risk if you don’t update your software as soon as the latest patch becomes available. Criminals start taking advantage of compromised code before developers can release patches, so you’re already behind. Every day counts.

4. Letting Users Keep Outdated Privileges

Always follow the principle of least privilege. According to this principle, users should only have access to the data and services that they need to do their jobs. That might seem simple enough, but it requires frequent reevaluations as roles change within your organization.

An HR employee might have needed access to specific employee files last month while researching new health insurance options. Once that project finishes, the HR employee doesn’t need access to those files anymore. The principle of granting each user the least level of access states that you should remove that access.

Why would you worry about whether someone has access to files they don’t need? It might not matter that a specific employee maintains outdated access. It matters quite a bit, though, when a hacker gains control of the user account and uses privilege escalation techniques to gain access to more information. Over time, the hacker could find ways into some of your most sensitive databases and folders.

By giving people the absolute lowest level of privilege, they need to do their jobs, you make it harder for hackers to work their way up the system. You also give your cybersecurity team more time to notice odd behaviors that might suggest an attack.

5. Hiring the Wrong Professionals for Cybersecurity

Your typical IT staff member can probably provide basic cybersecurity services. They’re certainly better than not having anyone oversee your network’s integrity. All too often, though, businesses don’t hire cybersecurity experts with the latest training and tools to prevent sophisticated attacks. Don’t forget that hackers constantly work to find new targets. You need a similarly diligent security specialist to stop them before they can cause serious damage.

Ensure you have at least one employee on staff with excellent cybersecurity credentials. If that doesn’t fit your organizational structure, you can outsource the work to cybersecurity experts willing to monitor your network 24 hours a day.

Get Cybersecurity Assistance From All Points

All Points can help you understand your network’s potential vulnerabilities, develop risk-based remediation plans, detect intrusions, and use the latest toolsets to stay ahead of criminals.

Learn more about All Points and how its cybersecurity specialists can help protect your company.