A New List of Ways You're Making Yourself Vulnerable Online As a Business

Businesses are increasingly transitioning online – although that number might be smaller than you think. In the US, 29.7% of business is done online. Globally, the number is only 18%.

That’s not to say that brands aren’t online – 71% have an online presence, but they’re not necessarily making sales online.¬†Still, all must harness the power of the internet to reach broader audiences and streamline operations, there’s no denying that. Attack surface management will show you there are tons of vulnerabilities.

From weak cybersecurity protocols to overlooking employee training, numerous factors contribute to making a business susceptible to online threats. Let’s explore ways brands might unknowingly expose themselves to risks and outline the steps to mitigate these vulnerabilities. 

Lack of Regular Software Updates

Software updates, or lack of them, are a big problem. They’re critical security patches that protect against newly discovered vulnerabilities – not everyone is patching.

Businesses procrastinate and ignore software updates, exposing their systems to potential cyber-attacks. It no doubt contributed to the 114 publicly disclosed security incidents in October 2023 alone.

Ensuring that all business software, including antivirus programs and operating systems, are regularly updated is a simple yet effective way to shield your business from unnecessary risks. 

These updates often contain improvements in performance and compatibility to enhance the overall functionality and resilience of business systems. The figures for the entire year still aren’t out.

Weak Password Policies

One of the most fundamental yet often overlooked aspects of online security is the strength of passwords – yes, it’s annoying when you have to make a complex password that you’ll never remember, but there’s a reason. 

Businesses that do not enforce robust password policies essentially leave their front door unlocked for cybercriminals. Simple or reused passwords across multiple platforms can easily be breached, granting unauthorized access to sensitive business data. 

Luckily, the number of brands making it compulsory for staff and consumers to have strong passwords is growing. A secure password policy is not just a technical requirement. It’s a cultural shift towards a more secure and conscious approach to safeguarding your business’s digital assets.

Inadequate Employee Training

Employees are often the first line of defense against cyber threats – or the reason for the attack.

Businesses that don’t invest in regular cybersecurity training for their staff are making themselves vulnerable to attacks. And according to research, one-third of brands don’t offer cybersecurity training.¬†

Yet, it’s as simple as interactive training sessions, real-life simulations, and continuous refreshers. If employees understand their critical role in maintaining the company’s digital security, they transform from potential security risks. 

Ignoring the Importance of Data Backups

A recent business data backup is the difference between a minor setback and a catastrophic loss. Businesses that do not regularly backup their data are risking data loss and the trust of consumers. But again. research shows that 40% of SMEs aren’t backing up their data, and even when they do, 40-50% of the data isn’t fully recoverable.

Having a well-structured data recovery plan in place can significantly expedite restoring normal operations, minimizing downtime and the associated financial and reputational damages. And the statistics for loss of money from downtime are crazy.

Fortune 1,000 companies could lose up to $1 million per hour of downtime. Sure, the number won’t be as high for SMEs, but the figure is eye-opening. It’s not just about having backups. It’s about having an actionable plan to implement those backups effectively, should the need arise.

Overlooking Endpoint Security

Remote work is becoming increasingly prevalent, making endpoint security more essential than ever. Each device that connects to your business network, be it a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, is a potential entry point for cyber threats.

Businesses that don’t secure these endpoints open numerous avenues for attackers to infiltrate their systems. Investing in comprehensive endpoint security solutions and ensuring that remote devices adhere to the same security standards as in-house equipment is vital.

Neglecting Regular Security Audits

Tactics used by cybercriminals are always evolving. Businesses that don’t conduct regular security audits operate with a false sense of security. Regular security assessments – conducted internally or by third-party experts – are essential in identifying potential vulnerabilities and rectifying them. 

These audits provide a comprehensive review of the business’s security infrastructure, policies, and practices. They ensure that all aspects of cybersecurity are up-to-date and effective. Regular audits can help brands stay compliant with industry standards and regulations, protecting them from cyber threats and legal and financial repercussions. 

By making security audits a routine part of their risk management strategy, businesses can proactively safeguard their digital assets and maintain the trust of their customers and partners. But it’s not always routine – something that must change in 2024.

Brands need to understand the importance of cybersecurity and the methods of protecting assets and consumers – well, consumers are the biggest asset. Once a year won’t cut it.

By implementing strong password policies, ensuring regular software updates, investing in employee training, backing up data, securing endpoints, and conducting regular security audits, businesses can significantly reduce their online vulnerabilities. And that has to be constantly ongoing.