Human error is one of the leading causes of data breaches and cybersecurity failures. It can take many forms, including mistakenly sharing classified information, practicing poor password hygiene, or falling for phishing scams. However, one form of human error that does not get discussed enough is believing cybersecurity myths. 

What makes cybersecurity myths dangerous?

Myths, misconceptions, and assumptions regarding cybersecurity can be just as damaging as cyberthreats because they create vulnerabilities. When businesses lack a clear understanding of cybersecurity realities, they’re less likely to have the right defenses in place to prevent or mitigate the impact of a cyberattack.

7 Dangerous cybersecurity myths

Here are some of the common cybersecurity misconceptions:

Myth 1: Cybercriminals go after only big businesses 

Small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) may think they’re too small to be cybercrime targets, but since 2018, cyberthreats have been the leading risk faced by SMBs across the world. Cybercriminals actually see SMBs as easy targets, as SMBs hold valuable data like customer information and financial records, but often have weaker security measures due to limited resources. 

Believing this myth leads to complacency and underinvestment in cybersecurity, making SMBs easy prey for attackers. Ransomware attacks, for example, specifically target SMBs. Knowing SMBs likely lack strong backup, attackers see them as more likely to pay the ransom. 

Myth 2: Basic antivirus software is enough

The evolving landscape of cyberthreats requires a multilayered security approach. In addition to antivirus software, a robust defense requires firewalls, network monitoring systems, endpoint protection, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and robust backup and disaster recovery plans. These tools form layers of defense that work together to proactively prevent, track, and contain threats, minimizing potential damage.

Myth 3: Complex passwords are effective

Passwords composed of various symbols and numbers are not sufficient protection if they aren’t long enough, as cybercriminals possess the tools to launch brute force attacks to guess the correct combination. In contrast, longer passwords of at least 12 characters or more are exponentially more difficult to crack, even for the most sophisticated hacking tools. Thus, businesses need to encourage their employees to adopt lengthier passwords or even implement password generator applications. 

In addition, businesses can further secure access controls through multifactor authentication (which requests for more than one proof of identity) and role-based permissions (which restrict system and data access based on job role). Such measures make it more difficult for cybercriminals to get into a system or its most critical data, even if they’ve somehow obtained an employee’s login credentials.

Myth 4: Technical security solutions can keep all cyberthreats at bay

While sophisticated antivirus software, firewalls, and other technical security tools form a crucial frontline in cyber defense, they cannot single-handedly guarantee impenetrable security. Effective cybersecurity must extend beyond technical measures and embrace the human element. Employee security awareness training is paramount since it teaches employees good cybersecurity habits, how to recognize phishing scams and other cyberattacks, and what to do in case of a security breach.

Myth 5: Only the experts have to worry about cybersecurity

Thinking that only the IT department needs to worry about cybersecurity is a mistake, leading to other employees’ lack of cybersecurity awareness and engagement. Building a robust defense requires a proactive, company-wide approach that cultivates security awareness and responsible online behavior in all staff. This includes implementing employee training programs, establishing clear security policies, and promoting a culture of vigilance. By taking these steps, organizations can significantly strengthen their defenses against both unintentional and malicious threats.

Myth 6: Cyberthreats are purely external

Don’t underestimate the dangers within. Accidental data leaks by careless employees or malicious insider activity can be just as devastating as external attacks. Mitigate such threats by implementing strong access controls, regular security training that fosters open communication, and whistleblower protection policies.  

Myth 7: Cybersecurity is too expensive

According to IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2023, the average global cost of a data breach is $4.45 million. Investing in security measures is an insurance policy for your digital assets, far outweighing the potential cost of neglecting your defenses. In fact, the same IBM report also found that organizations that invest in extensive security AI and automation saved an average of $1.76 million compared to organizations that chose otherwise. 

Learn how you can strengthen your organization’s cybersecurity preparations by contacting PCA Technology Group