Cybersecurity has become such a huge issue in today’s business world. Cybercrime has evolved radically in the last few years and the potential of cyberattacks gets more serious with technology advances. Every company, regardless of size, has vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit. The big names may dominate the news, but small businesses remain the silent majority when it comes to data breaches and cyberattacks.
Apart from challenges like financing and hiring, start-ups also have to deal with the threat of cyberattacks. These risks range from the more common phishing attacks to ransomware, malware, and Distributed Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks. Read on to learn how to protect your start-up against the ever-increasing cyber threats.
What Makes Start-ups Vulnerable to Cyberattacks?
Hackers have been increasingly targeting start-ups and other small businesses in recent years. Small businesses, in general, tend to have weaker online security compared to their larger counterparts. As cloud services become cheaper and more accessible, smaller businesses are now, more than ever, conducting their business online. Start-ups lack the strong encryption technology required to secure their online business.
Some start-ups have a cache of information that hackers would love to exploit, including credit card and debit card numbers. This data is a goldmine for cybercriminals looking to run financial scams on unsuspecting users. Since start-ups lack resources to set up a robust cybersecurity infrastructure that governments and big corporations have, all this data is protected by a lock that’s easy to pick. Small businesses are easy to compromise hence a more appealing target.
Understanding the Risks
Your business is never too small to consider cybersecurity measures. One of the most important steps you can take to protect your start-up is familiarizing yourself with the wide range of cybersecurity risks out there. By understanding cyber threats, you can make it harder for cybercriminals to compromise your data in the first place. So, what are some of the most common cyber threats facing start-ups?
Year-in, year-out, phishing attacks top the list of the most common types of cyberattacks yet businesses are still unable to effectively defend against them. This sneaky social engineering attack uses disguised to access and steal user data. The attack often takes the form of an email that points you to the direction of a website that appears as though it’s provided by a trusted source.
In a ransomware attack, hackers deploy malware to lock a business’s mission-critical data until a specified sum of money is paid. A ransomware attack could render a company’s entire computer system inaccessible. Forbes predicts a 300% increase in ransomware in 2020, with most of these attacks targeting small businesses.
Incidents of data breaches affecting start-ups are becoming increasingly common these days. Start-ups are embracing new technologies such as connected devices, apps, and digital working environments. Without robust policies, procedures, and oversight to ensure secure communication channels and devices, these technologies make start-ups vulnerable to data breaches.
Now that you understand the most common types of cybersecurity risks, what can you do to protect your start-up? The good news is that there’s a lot that you can do to protect your venture. Below, we look at some mitigation measures you can take to secure your start-up from these cyber threats.
Assess Risks and Vulnerabilities
Risk assessment will help you identify the various information assets that could be compromised in the event of a cyberattack. These include intellectual property, customer data, laptops, systems, and hardware. You will also be able to identify, analyze, and evaluate the various threats that could compromise these assets. This process will help you ensure that your cybersecurity safeguards are appropriate for the risks your start-up faces.
Use Cybersecurity Software
Antivirus, also known as antimalware software, is a computer program used to prevent, detect, and remove malware, virus, and potentially unwanted programs. Just like you need antivirus for your PC, your company devices also need protection. Another effective cybersecurity program many businesses use is a VPN router to secure their office network as well as all company devices in the same network.
Always make sure that your systems are up to date, especially your cybersecurity software. Cybercriminals tend to take advantage of weaknesses in your system to access your devices. To avoid this, be sure to install updates as soon as you receive the notification. An up to date system is a secure system.
Backup your Data
Always make sure that you backup sensitive company data. Backing up your data is imperative especially in the face of rising ransomware attacks. A data backup gives you the chance to wipe off all your data when you detect a ransomware attack and start afresh. Any company that’s serious about protecting sensitive data from cybercriminals should have this security measure in place.
Restrict Data Access
Nowadays, most cyberattacks are directed at the employees’ lack of awareness instead of vulnerabilities in the system. It’s safe to say that employees are the biggest cyber threats for your business. Therefore, employee access to company data should be limited. Start-ups should also restrict employee authority to install and uninstall applications on company devices to reduce the risk of malware.
Implement an Incident Reporting Mechanism
Set up an incident reporting mechanism within your organization. Adopting and integrating an incident reporting mechanism within your small enterprise will help you ensure that all incidents and attacks are reported to the security team. Your security team will, in turn, ensure that proactive measures to prevent a breach are put in place.
As stated earlier, the lack of awareness among employees has become the biggest cybersecurity threat for organizations. Proper training on cybersecurity best practices is essential. Provide regular employee training on cybersecurity best practices to help develop a proper cybersecurity culture at the workplace.
Cyberattacks and data breaches are on the rise. In most cases, these attacks are aimed at small businesses. With their resources stretched thin, these businesses lack adequate cybersecurity protection. Most start-ups that experience cyberattacks end up closing six months after the breach. Start-ups need to enforce strict internal security policies and guidelines to defend against these threats.
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