Whether it’s developing your product, managing your team, or even securing investments, there is no shortage of challenges that come with running a startup.
Unfortunately, some of these challenges can end up low on the list of priorities for startup founders and often get overlooked. Cybersecurity is one of these challenges.
According to digital security specialists Gemalto, 2018 saw a staggering 945 data breaches, and as hackers and cybercriminals continue to target major corporations and small businesses alike, leaving your startup vulnerable to cyber attacks is like leaving your office door unlocked at all times. Protection is essential.
Not sure where to start? Here are 5 steps you can take to put your startup on the path towards better security.
1. Educate yourself and your team
In order to protect yourself from threats, you must first understand those threats. Get familiar with the various tricks and tactics hackers and cybercriminals employ; tactics like phishing, ransomware, DDoS attacks, and others.
Learn what they are, how to spot them, and how to prevent them. And since keeping your startup secure should be a team effort, make sure the whole team is equally aware, prepared, and committed.
2. Create and implement an information security program
Everything is easier with guidelines. Keeping your startup’s data under control and well-protected is much easier when you have an information security program: a clearly-defined set of policies and procedures regarding your company’s data and how it flows across your organization.
Make sure that everyone on your team understands what is expected of them and follows the rules. There are lots of online resources on how best to set up an information security program; this post by CSO is a good starting point.
3. Keep your systems up-to-date
Stop clicking “Remind me later” on that update notification. It is imperative that everyone’s operating systems, software, and apps are frequently updated, as each new iteration of a piece of software patches up security vulnerabilities from the previous version.
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Sometimes these vulnerabilities are discovered by benevolent cybersecurity experts who privately alert the developers of the software to them. Other times, a security patch doesn’t come out until malicious hackers have already stumbled onto a vulnerability and exploited it. In either case, updates are for your own good, so don’t be lazy about installing them.
4. Back-up and encrypt sensitive data
When you protect the private data of your customers, you protect their faith in your company. It’s never a good idea to store the personal information of thousands (or millions) of innocent people (names, emails, passwords, credit card details, etc.) in plain text; in other words, clear legible text, like the one you’re reading right now.
Instead, use encryption to make that data indecipherable, then go ahead and create a backup copy of it. This way, if a hacker ever manages to breach your systems, all they’d find waiting for them is unreadable gibberish. And if they try to sabotage your whole operation and delete the data, you’d have an identical copy ready to replace it. Same goes for your company’s internal private data (bank details, invoices, etc.): encrypt it and back it up.
5. Use a password manager
One weak password. That’s all it takes to bring your whole organization crashing down. People have a lot of bad habits when it comes to passwords: picking extremely simple ones, reusing the same one over and over again, sharing them with friends and colleagues, etc.
The best way to eliminate all password-related risks is to use a password manager. On an individual level, a password manager will allow you to forego the hassle of memorizing complex passwords for your accounts by auto-filling them for you. On a team level, a password manager will allow you to control and monitor who on your team has access to what accounts and what data, at all times.
That all sounds nice and wonderful, but there is one more thing you ought to know about password managers before settling on one to entrust with your data. Most password managers work by storing your data on servers, in the cloud. This makes it easy to retrieve that data from any device at any time; all you need to do is enter your master password.
However, this level of convenience comes at a price, as servers can be breached, and your passwords can be compromised. Luckily, there are alternatives out there that allow you to securely access and manage your data, without putting it at risk in the process. So when it comes time to picking a password manager, make sure you do your homework.
All in all, the stronger your passwords are, the stronger your startup is.
The above article was written by Myki and originally published on the Seedstars World blog.