COVID-19 brought with it an unexpected boom in the number of startups. And if you happen to be one of those individuals beginning a startup, it’s important to know how you can secure your startup.
Proper cybersecurity is important for all businesses, but startups need to focus on their security more than already-established businesses. Statistics show that one data breach can cause the majority of startups to close doors before they truly ever get off the ground.
So today, let’s look at the risks startups face—what they should be protecting themselves against—and then see how you can protect your startup against said threats.
Risks Faced By Modern Startups
1. Malware Infections
Malware is everywhere. Short for malicious software, malware has haunted both individuals and businesses since the early days of the Internet. But the types of malware have grown tenfold. Startups not only need to watch out for viruses, but they also need to defend against ransomware, spyware, worms, and vice versa.
The truth is that malware has become much harder to detect, and if your IT team takes too long to notice the threat, it could spell disaster for your startup.
A common belief between startups is that cybercriminals wouldn’t bother targeting them. The reason why? Because startups are smaller, therefore not as valuable to target as bigger companies and corporations.
This is wishful thinking. According to Inc. Magazine, Cybercriminals target startups all the time, and yours is no less vulnerable.
One well-placed cyber-attack could ruin your startup, or at the very least, financially cripple it for a long period. Remember, the damage done by a cyber-attack can and often is expensive to fix.
3. Data Breaches
Data breaches happen for a variety of reasons. Maybe a network-borne worm found its way onto your network and gave a cybercriminal complete access to your systems. Maybe a group of cybercriminals targeted your network. Whatever the reasons for it are, data breaches can be debilitating to any business. Data breaches not only damage your systems and data, but they can also damage your reputation amongst your customers and users. In other words, a data breach is a quick way to lose business.
4. User Error
You could do everything right and still suffer a data breach or cyber-attack. This is because while your security systems and policies are great, user error can undo all of that. All it takes is an employee downloading an attachment from a random scam email or an employee purposely messing with your network themselves—something that’s known as an “insider threat.”
5 Ways to Protect Your Startup
Perform A Risk Assessment
The first thing you should do to protect your startup performs a risk assessment. During a risk assessment, your hardware, data, systems, network, and vice versa, will be examined for the sole purpose of identifying what factors you should consider, what risks your startup will face, and how you can prevent those risks from becoming a reality.
A risk assessment is the best way of predicting what you should prepare for. Not all startups face the same threats, both in quantity and intensity. Fortunately, performing a risk assessment can be done at any time by knowledgeable cybersecurity experts. And your IT team should perform a risk assessment multiple times a year.
Use a VPN Router to Encrypt Data
Nothing is more dangerous than an exposed network. Take a second to think about how much data travels to-and-from your network, then think about what would happen if a cybercriminal were to hack your network and monitor the data being sent. You’d be exposing your and your users’ data, risking a data breach and a cyber-attack in one fell swoop.
One way to prevent this from happening is by using a VPN router. With a VPN router, every device connected to the network will be able to send data through encrypted channels, preventing cyber criminals from snooping on your data. Check out ExpressVPN for more information on the functions of VPNs.
Allow IT to Monitor Employee Devices
Earlier, it was mentioned that user error accounts for a large portion of data breaches and cyber-attacks. There are two ways to mitigate user error by preventing it altogether.
The first way to prevent user error from affecting your startup is by monitoring your network. There are various ways to do so, and each way will allow you and your IT team to monitor what your employees are doing, what they are putting on their devices, and vice versa.
If an employee begins visiting sketchy sites or starts downloading random files, you will be the first to know. This gives you the bonus of a quicker response time if a threat ever pops up on your network.
Educate Yourself and Your Employees on Cybersecurity
The second way to mitigate user error is to teach your employees about the threats your startup will face and how they can prevent those risks. Many security experts offer seminars that you can pay for to teach employees ways they can protect themselves and mitigate user error.
This does cost some money, but it is a good way to mitigate user error, like mentioned earlier.
Practice Proper Cyber-Resilience
The majority of this article focuses on cybersecurity, but you should also be focused on cyber-resilience as a startup. What is the difference? According to forbes.com, While cybersecurity focuses on preventing cybercrime, cyber-resilience focuses on mitigating the damage a data breach, malware, or cybercriminal can do.
In other words, cyber-resilience focuses on fail-safes, response times, and the ability to get rid of the threat promptly. When discussing what is best for your startup, you need to focus on both cybersecurity and cyber-resilience; having one or the other instead of both would put your startup at great risk.
With the United States entering a startup boom, it’s a good time for startup owners to begin building up their cybersecurity and cyber-resilience. From teaching employees about cybersecurity to installing encryption methods onto your network, there is no shortage of ways to protect your startup.