Top 5 cybersecurity tips for start-ups

Image by Darwin Laganzon from Pixabay

By Matthew Stern

Start-up owners face many challenges in their everyday business, and dealing with cybersecurity can be pretty daunting. A common misconception is that small firms tend to be more resilient to hacker attacks than big companies. According to Verizon Data Breach Report, 43 percent of all cyberattacks in 2019 involved small businesses. Therefore, no business is small enough to bypass the deathtrap of vicious cyber-attacks.

The biggest threats to start-ups

– Phishing

According to CSO research, more than 80 percent of all reported security incidents are attributed to phishing. These social engineering attacks are designed to lure users into opening emails or SMS messages and clicking on malicious links resulting in a ransomware attack or malware installation. Over the years, phishing attacks have become more sophisticated, and many of them are targeting specific companies. While classic phishing strikes a big pool of random users, spear phishing involves prior research and exploits the weak spots in one’s security strategy.

Malware

Malicious software has many faces, but the start-ups’ biggest enemies are ransomware attacks where hackers hold the data as a hostage and demand a ransom to grant you access to your files. Most attackers require payment in cryptocurrencies since these transactions are almost impossible to track.

– Data breaches

Not so long ago, the American firm Wright Hotels became a victim of a hacking attack where one of the employees responded to a phishing email and gave access to the company’s bank accounts. The incident resulted in a one million dollar loss and long-term security issues.

5 ways to protect start-ups

– Risk assessment

The first step in any security strategy should be assessing the potential risks to your business. It’s essential to determine the value of the assets in question and calculate the likelihood of these assets being hacked or stolen. Also, it’s vital to assess the impact of a potential attack – how badly will it affect your business? Finally, if the risk of losing your assets is too high, consider additional insurance.

– A VPN router to secure all the devices in the office

Companies can protect their security by using a VPN. Virtual Private Networks are becoming a staple in every serious cybersecurity strategy because they route the data traffic through an encrypted tunnel that no third party can access. Installing a VPN service on the router makes things easier since it covers all devices in the office.

– A good password practice

A crucial step in successfully securing your business is taking proper care of your credentials. Most of the employees’ passwords are easily guessable and not strong enough to protect sensitive company data. A go-to solution for every business is a password manager. Password managers store all employees’ passwords in one place, and what’s more important, they encrypt the stored data so if anyone comes across your data, they’ll find a scrambled pile of symbols they can’t use.

– Keeping software up to date

Keeping the software updated is one of the most easily overlooked security measures. Set up automatic updates to protect your devices from potential threats, and make a habit of scheduling the updates for those programs that don’t have the auto-update feature.

– Educating employees on the importance of cybersecurity

Investing in employee education is always money well spent. Make sure your staff is aware of potential threats and that they’re continuously familiarizing themselves with the new security needs. A single broken link in the security chain can lead to a potential disaster.

Start-ups often have limited funds, and investing in cybersecurity may seem like an additional expense, but if you consider that 60 percent of small businesses that suffer a cyberattack go out of business within six months, it’s a vital business investment.

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Matthew Stern is a technology content strategist at TechFools, a tech blog aiming at informing readers about the potential dangers of technology and introducing them to the best ways to protect themselves online. As a tech enthusiast and an advocate for digital freedom, Matthew is dedicated to introducing his readers to the latest technology trends and teaching them how to gain control over their digital lives.

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