As a startup, cybersecurity needs to be one of your top priorities. A data breach or cyberattack can have devastating consequences for your business, including financial losses, damage to your reputation, and even legal liability (all things you don’t need when trying to grow your business!) We’ll explore the importance of cybersecurity for startups and offer practical tips for protecting your business from cyber threats.
Why is cybersecurity important for a startup?
Today, hackers attack businesses of all kinds, but startup businesses are targeted more often than others. According to SCORE, 43% of cyber attacks target startups and small businesses, while only 14% protect their operations against the threat. This, coupled with a startup lacking the resources to fully invest in enterprise-level security protections, can be a recipe for disaster for a company trying to get itself up and running.
Why is cybersecurity challenging for startups?
Startups face unique challenges when it comes to cybersecurity. For one, you have limited resources and likely don’t have the budget to invest in advanced security measures. At the same time, you may be dealing with sensitive customer data, making you easy prey for hackers.
Agility over security
On top of this, startups often have to move fast and usually prioritize agility over security when faced with decisions. This leads to risky behaviors such as using weak passwords or failing to update software, making your business vulnerable to attacks or data breaches.
Experience and expertise
Finally, startups won’t have the same level of experience or expertise when it comes to dealing with threats. This can make it harder for employees to identify and thwart attacks, and leaves your venture more vulnerable overall.
The consequences of a security breach or can be severe for a startup, and can sideline your business before it even gets off the ground. A data breach can lead to financial losses, such as the cost of hiring a forensic team to investigate the breach or providing credit monitoring services to affected customers who have sensitive data. A cyberattack can also damage your reputation, leading to a loss of customer trust and potentially a loss of investors. In addition, if you collect sensitive data from customers, you may be subject to data protection laws that require you to notify customers of a data breach and may impose fines for non-compliance.
How can startups protect themselves from cyber attacks?
Fortunately, there are a few simple steps to take that will go a long way to protecting your startup from threats. Here are some practical tips to consider:
Create strong passwords and use multi factor authentication
One of the simplest and most effective ways to protect your business is to use complex passwords and to enable two-factor authentication (2FA or MFA) wherever possible. Strong passwords should be at least eight characters long and should include a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters. You should also use different passwords for different accounts and should avoid using personal information such as your name or birthdate.
Easier said than done right? I mean, how are you going to remember dozens of unique passwords, and change them regularly? This is where a password manager comes in handy. A password manager can store all of your passwords securely, ensuring that you have unique passwords for every login you use.
Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security by requiring you to enter a code in addition to your password when logging in. This code can be sent to your phone via text message or generated by an authenticator app. Just about every service today has an option to turn on two-factor authentication and while it may add to the hassle of logging in, it’s worth it. Microsoft claims that enabling 2FA on your account can prevent 99.9% of brute force attacks.
Update your software and operating systems regularly
Outdated software and operating systems are a common target for cybercriminals. By regularly updating your software and doing security updates, you can patch vulnerabilities and reduce the risk of attack. Make sure to set your software and operating systems to update automatically whenever possible. Even with automatic updates turned on, it’s a good idea to set a recurring task in your calendar to go through and manually check for updates on all of your software. Not having a vulnerability patched on your software or using outdated technology is an easy way for hackers to gain access to your systems.
Use antivirus software and a firewall
Antivirus software can help protect your business from malware and other threats. A firewall can help block unauthorized access to your network and is essential for protecting your business from external threats. Even a free antivirus program is going to be better than nothing. At Tech Superpowers, we use Sophos. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best solution for you. By working with a trusted technology partner (more on that below) you can find the endpoint protection that is best for you and your business.
Back up your data regularly
No protection is completely secure. You could have the best protections and data encryption in the world, and still fall victim to a cyber attack. When this happens, you’ll be glad you’ve been backing up your data regularly. This can help you recover quickly and minimize the impact of an attack. You should regularly back up your data to a secure location, such as an external hard drive or cloud storage service. Jason Ross, Senior Engineer at Tech Superpowers follows the 3-2-1 rule for his backups. That means three copies of your data, on two different types of media, one of which is located off-site. That might sound like a lot, but it’s worth it every time.
Train your employees on cybersecurity best practices
Your employees are an important part of your defense against threats, and often your last line of defense. By training them on cybersecurity best practices, you can help reduce the risk of a cyberattack. This might include teaching them how to create strong passwords, how to recognize phishing attacks, and security procedures to follow. A good cybersecurity partner will regularly test and train your employees on all of this, keeping them in the loop on the newest trends and threats in the cybersecurity landscape.
The Importance of an MSP
The best way for startups to ensure that they have robust cybersecurity measures in place is to partner with a managed service provider (MSP). MSPs are IT service companies that provide a range of services such as monitoring, maintenance, and support for your business’s IT operations and strategic planning. By partnering with an MSP like Tech Superpowers, you can tap into their expertise and resources, and benefit from their knowledge of the latest cybersecurity threats and best practices for small businesses and enterprise organizations alike.
An MSP can provide a range of cybersecurity services, such as antivirus protection, firewalls, cloud storage, and help you develop a written security policy (WISP). They can also help you create a cybersecurity plan, and provide ongoing support and maintenance to keep your systems secure. Think of them like your local fire department. They’re there not just to save your building when it’s burning down, they’re there to keep it from catching fire in the first place.
Building a strong foundation
Partnering with an MSP early on in your startup’s journey can help you build a strong foundation of cybersecurity, and give you peace of mind knowing that your small business is protected. It can also save you time and resources, as you won’t have to invest in building an in-house IT team and can focus on growing your business.
Are you working for a successful startup that hasn’t taken a proactive step towards cybersecurity defenses yet? Our team of IT specialists and engineers can provide expert-level support and help you create a customized cybersecurity plan that meets the unique needs of your business. Don’t let cybersecurity be a weak spot for your organization – contact Tech Superpowers today to learn more.