Cybersecurity for Startups: How to Protect Your Business

Large-scale data breaches, such as the Equifax hack, are ubiquitous nowadays. But if you think that breaches only affect high-profile companies, then you are mistaken. In fact, three out of five small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have fallen victim to a cyber attack.

Many small businesses that suffer a cyber attack never recover. Can you imagine all of your hard work getting your startup off the ground going to waste like that? Thus, entrepreneurs must protect their startups with strong cybersecurity measures from the get-go.

Take these steps to ensure maximum protection for your startup:

1. Understand the risks.

The first step is accepting that your startup faces serious threats. Brian Burch, vice president of Symantec, says, “Startups are incredibly vulnerable to cyberattacks in their first 18 months. If a business thinks that it’s too small to matter to cybercriminals, then it’s fooling itself with a false sense of security.”

So, what could you come up against in those first 18 months?

We’ve mentioned data breaches. If your startup stores sensitive data, such as financial information, you could be a target. There’s also the risk of malware, or more specifically a ransomware attack. Hackers lock your files and demand a ransom to get them back. Further disruptions could be caused by a DDoS attack, in which hackers overwhelm your systems, rendering your site or servers inaccessible. Any kind of downtime is expensive for small businesses.

These are by no means the only cyber risks your startup might face, but they are indeed major ones.

2. Invest in cost-effective solutions.

You want to protect your tech, but you don’t have the cyber budget of a large corporation. Sound familiar? Thankfully, there are cost-effective solutions to address this need.

You, of course, need the basic toolkit such as a firewall, antivirus and encryption tools, and in some cases, you can get free versions of the software.

Another option is security as a service (SECaaS). It’s usually subscription-based, so you don’t have to pay a bunch of upfront costs for software. Plus, it’s scalable meaning you can add greater security as your startup grows.

Furthermore, there are technical aspects you can take care of that don’t require any extra costs. For instance, it’s important that you regularly update your existing software as these updates often contain vital security patches.

3. Manage the human element.

Unfortunately, it’s not just tech that can be the downfall of your startup. Employees often make simple mistakes that lead to cybersecurity issues. Insider threats are increasingly putting businesses at risk.

In some cases, employees inadvertently cause damage. For example, they might accidentally click on a malicious link or even fall for a scam. Cybercriminals often trick employees into sharing sensitive information as part of a phishing scam. The solution to accidental damage is to put strict security policies in place and offer continued training.

Remember that cyberattacks affect small companies and startups, as well as large corporations. Your startup may be a target in the early stages. Hence, you must address both the technological and human elements of cybersecurity from the very beginning.

Kelly O’Hara is a freelance writer and content marketer who works at Copy Goals. She specializes in SaaS, Marketing and B2B topics. 

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