7 Common Cybersecurity Mistakes SMBs Make and How to Avoid Them

7 Ways SMBs Shoot Themselves in the Foot with Shoddy Cybersecurity

There are mistakes you can afford to make and then there are the mistakes you can’t – the cybersecurity-related mistakes invariably fall in the latter category. Cyber-attacks on small businesses shot up by 424 percent last year, reports Hacked, with insider-related incidents costing an eye-watering $7.68 million in damages on average!

Needless to say, not all SMBs can afford to lose a few million bucks. And, indeed, 60 percent of companies go bust within six months of a data breach. If you’d like to avoid this fate, you need to learn from other people’s goof-ups – it’s a survival imperative at this point.

In this mini-guide, Keetria presents the most damaging mistakes SMBs make with their cybersecurity, and how you can avoid them:

#1 Not educating employees

Security breaches are caused by human errors 88 percent of the time, says SHRM. Even the best security setup on the planet can’t save you if the people manning the stations don’t understand basic threats and how to avoid them. Invest in your employees, educate them on threats, and make clear your expectations regarding do’s and don’ts.

  • Research common attack vectors like phishing, keylogging, and click-baiting.
  • Understand common attack targets like data, money, identity info, and infrastructure.
  • Instruct on and implement best practices like authentication.

#2 Only using basic antivirus software

Relying on Microsoft Defender (a pre-installed program on Windows) to keep your individual systems safe is not a bad idea – to an extent. It needs to be backed up by other security measures. Good cybersecurity works in layers. If one layer fails, the others can pick up the slack. Some other layers to implement are multi-factor authentication, firewall, networking monitoring, private WiFi, and active monitoring solutions.

#3 Not testing your security setup

You may think your security setup is airtight – but is it really? The only way to be sure is to perform penetration testing. Pen testing is a simulated cyber-attack by a white-hat hacker that identifies weak links in your armor. You can patch up any holes found, essentially, to make your security truly airtight. Doing pen testing routinely is best.

#4 Giving employees too much power

If you owned a building, would you give your employees the keys to every room and door? Unfortunately, too many do just that when it comes to their virtual setup. The security best practice is to give your employees only the level of access they need to do their jobs, no more. Even if you trust them, they’re only human and may leave their keys lying around somewhere.

#5 Being slow to update

Even the biggest companies have trouble keeping their systems updated, for various reasons. Not unexpectedly, this provides hackers a window of opportunity to infiltrate their systems. Frequent patching is necessary if you want to eliminate newfound weaknesses in your security setup. To help, create an online calendar so your team can keep track of when systems have been updated. When looking into an option to create a calendar planner, find one that allows you to easily leave sticky notes or comments to members of your team in case you need to leave any special instructions.

#6 Believing you’re not vulnerable

Don’t fool yourself into thinking bad things only happen to other people, and your business will just happen to fly under the hackers’ radar. Vulnerability attracts hackers, like soon-to-be carrion does vultures. Safeguard yourself and prepare for the worst for the best outcome.

#7 Not having a recovery plan in place

A cyber-attack is not a possibility, but an eventuality. Your business will likely be attacked at least once in the course of its lifetime. Not having a recovery plan in place to do with it is asking for trouble. Not only could it cost you productivity, but it can and will destroy your reputation. No customer wants to do business with a company that doesn’t protect their data.

An effective data recovery plan allows you to quickly remove threats and resume operations. The plan should identify which applications you’ll need to recover first, define time objectives, and appoint individuals to be involved in the recovery efforts. PR management to protect your reputation is also a good idea. “Disaster recovery” is a key cyber security data protection best practice.


Hackers are getting more intelligent and technologically capable by the minute. Prevention is the best cure – the only way to stay ahead of them is to invest time and energy in learning about the latest countermeasures and continuously shore up your cybersecurity setup. Be prepared and stay safe.

Keetria is an entrepreneur, wellness advocate, and brand strategy coach for creatives & entrepreneurs with 16 years of public relations expertise working with some of the world’s leading brands, startups, media personalities, and entertainers. If you would like to work together, don’t hesitate to reach out!

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