10 Biggest Cybersecurity Mistakes of Australian Small Businesses


It is often lax cybersecurity practices that enable cybercriminals to breach companies. This is especially true when it comes to SMBs (small and mid-sized businesses) as they often don’t prioritise cybersecurity measures. They may be just fully focused on growing the company and they think they have a lower data breach risk. Cybersecurity is not only a concern for large corporations and is a critical issue for small businesses as well. Small businesses are often seen as attractive targets for cybercriminals as they don’t spend the time to implement proper cyber security defensive methods.

Over fifty percent of SMBs have been victims of cyberattacks with more than 60% of them going out of business afterward. Cybersecurity does not need to be expensive. as most data breaches are the result of human error and user training is fairly straight forward.

Do not let your business become an easy target! Learn from the top 10 cybersecurity mistakes listed below and fortify your digital defences

Are You Making Any of These Cybersecurity Mistakes?

To address the issue, you need to first identify the problem and SMBs are making mistakes they don’t even realise. Listed below are some of the biggest reasons small businesses fall victim to cyberattacks and see if you are making similar mistakes.

1. Underestimating the Threat

The biggest cybersecurity mistake for SMBs, is underestimating the threat. Many business owners assume that their company is too small to be a target. This is a very dangerous misconception as cybercriminals see small businesses as easy targets.

The bad guys know that small businesses lack the resources or expertise to defend against attacks so deliberately target them. Therefore it is essential to understand that no business is too small for cybercriminals to target and being proactive in cybersecurity is crucial.

2. Neglecting Employee Training

The human factor is a significant source of security issues but business owners usually neglect cybersecurity training their employees as they assume they will be naturally cautious online.

Employees though can be stressed or in a rush and can inadvertently click on malicious links or download infected files. This is where cybersecurity training greatly benefits companies as it helps the employees:

  • Understand the importance of strong passwords.
  • Recognise phishing attempts.
  • Be aware of social engineering tactics used by cybercriminals.
  • Understand the latest tricks cybercriminals use.

3. Ignoring Software Updates

Businesses failing to keep software and operating systems up to date is another big mistake as cybercriminals exploit known vulnerabilities in outdated software to gain access to systems.

All businesses owners should not use old software and also need to regularly update their current software to patch and fix known security flaws. This includes all software including operating systems, web browsers, line of business software, MS Office software, security software etc.

4. Using Weak Passwords

Weak passwords are a common security vulnerability in both small and medium sized companies. To help ease their workloads, many employees use easily remembered (and therefore easily guessable) passwords across multiple accounts.

Stats show that people reuse the same passwords 64% of the time. This can leave your company vulnerable and your sensitive information exposed to hackers. Encourage the use of strong and unique passwords / passphrases and implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever possible. MFA adds an extra layer of security so if a password is compromised the account is secured but the 2nd level of authorisation.

5. Lacking a Data Backup Plan

As with a lot of things, small businesses often think things won’t happen to them. Data loss is another of these “things” and most small companies do not have a formal data backup and recovery plan.

Data loss can occur due to various reasons including: human error, hardware failure and cyberattacks. You need to regularly back up your company’s critical data and also test the backups to ensure they can be successfully restored in case of a data loss incident.

6. Ignoring Mobile Devices

As more employees use mobile devices for work, mobile security is increasingly important and small businesses often overlook this aspect of cybersecurity. Put in place mobile device management (MDM) solutions that enforce security policies on company- and employee-owned devices used for work-related activities.

7. No Formal Security Policies

Small businesses often operate without clear policies and procedures in a number of areas. With no clear and enforceable security policies, employees may not know critical information such as:

  • how to handle sensitive data.
  • use company devices securely
  • respond to security incidents.
  • what to do when something amiss crops up.

Small businesses need to establish formal security policies and procedures and communicate them to all employees. These security policies need to cover things areas like:

  • password complexity.
  • password management.
  • data handling.
  • incident reporting.
  • email phishing.
  • remote work security.
  • plus many other security topics.

8. Failing to Regularly Watch Networks

Bigger companies have IT staff to watch their networks for suspicious activities. Smaller companies do not have this luxury which can then result in a delayed detection of security breaches. Smaller companies need to consider installing firewalls, network monitoring tools and / or outsourcing network monitoring services. This can help your business promptly identify and respond to potential threats.

9. No Incident Response Plan

In the face of a cybersecurity incident, SMBs without an incident response plan tend to panic and thus they respond ineffectively. Develop a comprehensive incident response plan that outlines the steps to take when a security incident occurs. This should include communication plans, isolation procedures and a clear chain of command and of who needs to be contacted.

10. Thinking They Don’t Need to Outsource IT Support

Cyber threats are continually evolving with new attack techniques emerging regularly. As such, small businesses often have a hard time keeping up but some also believe they are “too small” to pay for a proactive support or managed IT service provider (MSP). IT support providers come in all package sizes and they should include packages designed for all budgets.

Learn More About IT Service Providers

Don’t risk losing your business because of a cyberattack. IT service providers can be more affordable for your small business than you think. If you are in Australia and don’t currently have a provider or looking to move, please contact us a call today to schedule a chat.