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Cyber-criminals are smart. And they’re getting smarter. Gone are the days when all you needed to do to stay safe was to ignore the emails offering you millions of euro and member enhancements. Now Maltese businesses are increasingly realizing that criminals have noticed them and know where they are vulnerable.

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New stats paint a bleak picture of Malta’s Security Posture, with CyberSecurity Malta reporting over 40% of Maltese businesses have been victim of cyber security breaches.

But here’s the good news: you don’t have to be an easy mark. You can make changes right now to reduce the likelihood of a successful attack.

Here are six common cybersecurity mistakes and how to fix them:

Mistake 01

Piecemeal approach

As threats emerge, many companies take a reactive approach to their security. It’s tempting to stack new security measures on top of existing ones as new problems arise, but this results in too many products and not enough integration. Every product has its own dashboard, controls, and alerts. And someone has to stay on top of it all.

This lack of integration between security products makes it difficult to see threats holistically, and even harder to respond quickly and effectively. Even worse, they will give you a false sense of security by leaving uncovered gaps that you are not aware of, even though individual point solutions may be excellent. Instead, look for products designed to work together, and partner with companies that actively seek collaboration with the security industry.

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Mistake 02

Insufficient security expertise

Cyberthreats continue to increase every day, and 43% of cyberattacks target small businesses, which usually have limited IT resources in-house. Everyone else is focused on running the business, not security. You need help.

Consider automated, software-based processes that can monitor your systems continuously and even take action when a threat is detected. Smart automation can save you time and energy, allowing you to focus on other priorities. Also, consider partnering with a specialized security provider. And finally, invest in educating your employees on security awareness so everyone can be part of the solution, and not your biggest risk.

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Mistake 03

Unsecured personal devices

How many ways do you access your business data? Even small businesses may have multiple computers, laptops in remote locations, personal smart phones, and tablets. A determined hacker can attempt access through many possible endpoints. In fact, 60% of breaches stem from a compromised endpoint, such as a personal device.

Identity and access management (IAM) eliminates the complexity of multiple user credentials by giving each employee a single, secure identity to access all your network resources. And multi-factor authentication (MFA) offers another layer of protection, requiring a user to present a password plus secondary authentication such as a fingerprint or code sent via SMS.
Even better, invest in Mobile Device Management (MDM) to ensure that you can manage the devices themselves, wherever in the world they end up.

Mistake 04

“I’m too small to be a target”

As Malta has found out in the past two years, Cybercriminals increasingly target smaller businesses, rightly assuming that many are complacent and unprepared. A recent study by Cyber Security Malta found that a whole 40% of Maltese businesses reported having been the target of a cyberattack (and those are the ones that admitted it), and the overall annual average loss for smaller businesses from these attacks is estimated to be €71,960.

Make sure to invest in security, but realize that no program is 100% fool proof. Assume that you can be attacked and breached. Prepare an incident response plan, ensure continuous monitoring for suspicious activity, and organize the resources needed for a quick response to reduce the damage to your business.

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Mistake 05

Overlooking the security of the cloud

Security is complex, and even well-funded enterprise IT departments struggle to stay on top of it. The right cloud partner can do much of the heavy lifting for you and provide smart ways to encrypt and backup your data.

Moving to the cloud doesn’t have to mean starting over from scratch. Evaluate your needs, and make the move in stages. Or even employ a long-term hybrid strategy where some of your systems remain on-premises. Be sure to evaluate cloud service providers using international standards and look for vendors that publish detailed information about their security and compliance measures.

Mistake 06

Leaving data unprotected

Data travels outside your control when it’s shared by employees, partners, and customers. But trying to lock down everything discourages productivity and innovation, and eventually leads to employee workarounds if the inconvenience proves too great. Balance protection with productivity by focusing on security at the data level.

Categorize your data based on how sensitive and critical it is to your business. Better yet, automate your data classification so the appropriate protections and monitoring are in place when the data is created. Protect what’s most important with the strongest measures, such as restricted access, limited sharing privileges, and encryption.