The term "hacker" gets thrown around a lot when discussing data and network security, creating a great deal of confusion about who, exactly, these nefarious actors are. Those misconceptions could put your organization at risk if you allow them to guide your data security strategy and determine what to prioritize.
Small and medium-sized businesses can't afford any missteps when it comes to implementing a data breach prevention and incident response plan. The best place to get started is to get to know your enemy – and that means correcting some of the most common myths about hackers.
1. Only experts can hack
Hollywood depictions would leave you to believe hackers sit behind massive, multi-monitor computer terminals, frantically typing code as security messages flash across the screen. The truth is you don't need to be a computer prodigy to be an effective hacker.
Malware tools are plentiful on the deep web and can often be purchased for a low price. With a pretty small upfront investment, even someone with rudimentary computer skills can get control of a botnet capable of wreaking havoc on businesses of all sizes.
"SMBs are easy targets for hackers to hit."
2. Hackers target the "big score"
For years, many SMBs have operated under the mistaken belief that hackers are only focused on targeting larger enterprises with more lucrative data to steal. That's simply not the case, though.
A 2017 Ponemon Institute survey of more than 1000 SMB IT employees revealed that roughly 61 percent experienced a data breach at some point during the previous 12 months. Ransomware was an especially worrisome threat, hitting approximately half of all respondents.
SMBs may not offer the potentially enormous payout that a large corporation might, but they are far easier targets for hackers to hit. Data and network security measures are typically far easier to crack with an SMB, giving cybercriminals a better chance for success.
3. The only threats come from outside your organization
If you exclusively focus on external actors like hackers, you will overlook threats lurking within your organization that can cause just as much damage. According to the Ponemon Institute, negligent employees were the number one cause for data breaches across both the United States and United Kingdom last year.
Businesses need to train their staff on the latest data security best practices, like practicing good password hygiene and being able to recognize phishing attempts. Beyond that, SMBs must create a data and network security plan that goes beyond antivirus software and firewalls. Monitoring software is a prerequisite to catch threats that slip through network defenses undetected and gain access to sensitive data.
Also, take care to update patches on a regular basis to fix security vulnerabilities before hackers take advantage of them.
Today's best data and network security strategies have a lot of moving parts, so work with a trusted IT solutions partner to find out what's worth the investment and how to manage every component. TEKConn is the premier New York IT services provider and can map out the perfect security plan for any organization.