For most entrepreneurs, starting their business means dealing with startup costs, marketing, getting the infrastructure set up right, and hiring employees. But there’s hardly any business in existence today that doesn’t deal with technology in some way. Which means that cybersecurity has become part of doing business, and startups need to take it into account as well.
The problem is, it’s not just large enterprises that are being targeted by cyber attacks anymore. They still have big targets on their backs, but as the WannaCry ransomware attack proved – anyone can be targeted. And, in fact, there’s a growing trend where small to medium enterprises are the main objective. Therefore, new businesses must take the time to get their cybersecurity defenses in place. Doing it right from the start can deter any mishaps later on, and will help protect the business from major setbacks.
Getting the right tools set up and having the right security systems in place can be tricky. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to cybersecurity. Plus the initial and ongoing costs that come with it can be daunting to any new business owner. But don’t get discouraged. Instead, take a look at these essential security tips that every startup should embrace.
- Exercise Access Control
Every business has a digital infrastructure in some form or another. Depending on the business’s needs, there could be data servers, social accounts, or maybe an intranet, to name a few. It’s important to know who has access to the company infrastructure – especially any parts of it that contain critical information.
There’s often a lot of people coming and going during a startup’s first few years, including temporary employees and freelancers. People working within a startup might not always be as conscious about protecting its digital assets as they should be. So it’s up to the owner to make sure that access control is handled.
Setting up layers or tiers of access is a good idea and most management systems today allow this. Only give people access to the information they need to get the job done and revoke access immediately when they leave. Make sure that employees protect their passwords as well and that they don’t give away any sensitive info.
- Keep the Network Secure
Hundreds of megabytes of data get sent over a startup’s network every day. Whether it’s customer information being uploaded or downloaded, or employees emailing each other. All of that information travels over the business’s network, and it could spell disaster if any outsiders got in.
Unprotected networks are vulnerable to breaches from malicious hackers. Passwords get stolen or guessed, brute force attacks are a problem, and hijacking is commonplace. So one of the first steps in securing the company’s digital assets is securing the network.
First up, make sure to restrict access to the network so only those that should be able to use it will get access. All devices have a unique MAC address, and these can be specified on the router’s admin panel. So only accepted devices will get access to the network and shared resources.
More importantly, take steps to secure the network with encryption. An enterprise-level VPN will be more than sufficient enough to get this done. Once the VPN is installed, people’s connections will always be protected. Do not let any employee go online without a VPN enabled on their devices if it’s not installed on the network’s router.
- Invest in an Endpoint Protection System
A while ago, Digital Guardian asked 27 security experts about companies’ biggest misconceptions about data security. One prominent answer was that many companies thought they were protected because they had an antivirus program installed.
Considering how much more advanced hacker’s techniques are now compared to a few years ago, that just won’t cut it. Cybercriminals know how to find vulnerable endpoints, and those who aren’t protected will be targeted first.
Look for a comprehensive endpoint security system that can be tailored to the business. No one solution that will offer 100% protection. Instead, a layered approach is necessary.
A two-pronged security system is better – both the central management server and individual employee devices should be protected. Every device needs software solutions that will monitor them and make sure they’re safe before connecting to the rest of the network.
It’s important to not think of cybersecurity as another expense but rather an investment in the company. Data breaches and ransomware can seriously cripple any business, and no startup wants to deal with that just as they’re getting off the ground.
Startups need to make cybersecurity a part of their business plan and stay on top of best practices to avoid big losses later on.