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In today’s fast-paced business landscape, sustainability and growth are a prime focus for startups, with cyber security often relegated to the bottom of the priority list.
But, with the threat of cyber crime at an all-time high, it’s become increasingly vital for startups to recognise the risks and take proactive measures to prevent them. Cyber criminals do not discriminate in terms of business size, and the impact of an attack can be devastating to startups.
In this guide, we’ll cover our top 5 tips to avoid cyber attacks for your startup. Let’s get started.
5 tips to avoid cyber attacks
So, let’s take a look at the measures startups can implement to help avoid cyber attacks from occurring:
1. Educate your team
One of the most important steps startups can take to prevent cyber attacks is to establish a culture of cyber security within their business early on.
Develop a company-wide policy that enforces cyber security, and update it as the business grows and its IT architecture becomes more complex. Ensure that every member of your team understands the risks and their role in safeguarding the company’s data and systems.
In addition, conduct training sessions that inform employees on how to recognise different types of cyber attacks, and the communication channels most at risk. When a new threat emerges, keep everyone updated with the best practices they can take to minimise any harm.
2. Implement strong passwords
Having strict password policies has become even more essential, now that many staff are working remotely. Use complex, unique passwords that are difficult to guess for each account, and encourage all employees and clients to do the same.
You should also strongly consider implementing a password manager, such as LastPass or NordPass, to securely store, share and manage passwords along with sensitive information. These platforms not only keep passwords protected, but when installed, they’ll automatically generate sufficiently strong passwords for the user each time a new account is created.
Additionally, startups should contemplate implementing Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) technologies. MFA solutions add an extra layer of security by requiring users to use additional authentication methods such as a text message, fingerprint, or email confirmation to access accounts holding confidential details.
3. Use the latest cyber security software
With cyber criminals constantly using advanced ways to attack, startups need to regularly update their cyber security software to avoid new threats.
This includes antivirus, anti-malware, and firewall solutions. While free versions can often help provide a basic level of security, startups should invest in robust software, to avoid targeted attacks and safeguard them from viruses, malware, spyware and more.
Make sure that all devices across the company have the most up-to-date versions of this software, including remote laptops, which can often be a source of vulnerability. If a new update becomes available, don’t put off installing it, and ensure all users are aware.
4. Encrypt and back up data
Another important step for startups is to protect data with encryption. Encryption ensures that even if data falls into the wrong hands, it remains unreadable without the proper decryption key. The company should aim to encrypt all sensitive information within the organisation, including employee details, business data, and customer information.
In addition to encrypting sensitive data, it’s crucial to secure the company’s online presence. Installing an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate on all websites is a common protocol. This will encrypt the data exchanged between the company’s website and its visitors, ensuring that any information transmitted, such as login credentials or payment details, remains confidential and protected from interception by hackers. This not only enhances the security of the website, but also builds trust with customers, as they will see the padlock icon or “https” in their browser’s address bar, indicating a secure connection.
Keep in mind that an SSL certificate is not only vital for e-commerce sites, but for any website that collects user data or login information.
Alongside encryption, data should be regularly backed up, and these backups should be stored securely, preferably offsite or in the cloud. This practice is crucial for data recovery in the event of a cyber attack, hardware failure, or other type of disaster.
5. Set up cloud storage
In today’s world of work, the cloud has become an indispensable asset for startups, offering flexibility and scalability wherever a company’s employees are working from.
Cloud providers offer robust data redundancy and backup solutions, as well as having dedicated security teams and compliance experts who monitor and manage security threats and regulatory requirements.
Startups should implement access controls to restrict who can gain entry and modify data in the cloud, ensuring that only authorised personnel can make changes. They should regularly review and update these access controls as their company evolves.
Why do cyber criminals target startups?
It’s a common misconception that cyber attacks are reserved for only the large companies. In fact, a recent report indicates that small businesses and startups are three times more likely to be targeted by cyber criminals than large organisations.
So, what exactly makes startups such attractive targets? Cyber criminals often perceive them as vulnerable due to the limited resources devoted to cyber security – be that as a result of budget constraints, or a lack of awareness. They recognise the value of the data often held by startups, such as customer details and intellectual property, and the potential financial reward that can come with exploiting such data.
We hope this guide has highlighted the best ways of safeguarding your startup from the increasing threat of cyber attacks.
Cyber security is a crucial aspect in protecting the progress and growth of startups, and should be ingrained into company culture early on. By taking proactive measures and staying up to date with the latest software, technologies and approaches, startups can help mitigate and avoid the impact of potentially detrimental cyber attacks.