|Cybersecurity is one of the key challenges in Uganda at the moment, with a reported 10.8% increase in 2022, according to the Annual Crime Report of 2022. This led to a financial loss of UGX. 19 billion. Banks, mobile money agents, and other platforms of the National Payment System have been hit the hardest, with Airtel Mobile Commerce Uganda Limited (AMCUL) suffering the most. Small businesses haven’t been left out of this cybercrime spike as well. The post-COVID era has seen an increase in e-commerce shops and services, which are usually the victims of these cyber crimes. These are some of the common cybersecurity mistakes that make small businesses in Uganda vulnerable to hacking and cyberattacks.
1. Weak Passwords: The use of weak and easily guessable passwords has left many businesses vulnerable to malicious actors. Weak passwords are usually short and guessable, with identifiable information, common words & number sequences. It’s important to use strong passwords with a mix of letters, symbols, and numbers, and most importantly, make them lengthy. It’s highly recommended to use different passwords for different accounts, in addition to changing them regularly and implementing a 2-factor authentication to further secure accounts.
2. Lack of employee training: Your employees are usually the weakest link in your cybersecurity defense line. This is due to the fact that there is little to no training of employees in most businesses in regard to cybersecurity threats. Employees are susceptible to social engineering methods such as phishing and vishing amongst others. Most businesses have employees using personal devices to access business data and networks, which without proper training may inadvertently expose sensitive data to cyber criminals. Some of the ways to prevent them are to do regular cyber security training on how to identify phishing emails and how to respond to them, encourage good cyber security practices such as setting strong passwords and shredding documents before disposing of them, and comply with cyber security practices and procedures.
|3. Insufficient Backups and Lack of Recovery Plans: Without a proper backup system and recovery plan, businesses risk losing critical data and suffering significant downtime in the event of an incident. This also leads to increased recovery costs that can include recovery services, equipment replacement, and lost revenue during the attack. In order to prevent these consequences, businesses should prioritize regular backup schedules, which include updating the backups and testing them to ensure that they are working. Businesses should also ensure that they have a recovery plan that states the procedures for restoring data and communication plans for both employers and clients.
4. Lack of an Incident and Response Plan: Without a proper incident response plan, businesses may struggle to respond effectively to security incidents and events. This leads to slow response times, increased costs, damages, and a negative impact on reputation affecting customer loyalty and trust. Businesses should prioritize making an incident response plan that states what procedures should be taken in case of an incident, similar to a recovery plan.
Unless small businesses or other types of businesses take up measures to curb these common mistakes, they will continue to be havens for malicious actors. With advancements in technology, cybercrimes will only continue to rise and cause enormous financial losses, and it’s up to business owners to carry out the best cybersecurity practices to protect their businesses. if possible (and most recommended), have a cyber security team in-house or outsourced to ensure that your business is cyber-safe.
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