AA major misconception of many business owners is that cyber-security is a preserve of major corporate organizations, or at least firms that have been around for a while. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Organizations should take proactive security measures right from the time of formation; fact is, many cyber-criminals consider startups as easy prey. Yet, most startups are so focused on growth, they tend to neglect data security, not realizing that a breach can have serious implications, including sensitive information landing in the wrong hands, lawsuits, loss of customer trust or even a ruined reputation.
So, how can a startup go about enhancing its IT security?
1. Identify The Possible Threats
As a business owner, it is your legal and ethical obligation to safeguard sensitive business information. It could be customer records, employee information, intellectual property documents as well as the financials. Assess the potential online security threats associated with your business and what the repercussions are should your cyber-security be compromised. Furthermore, you should try and identify the different ways hackers and malware can access your sensitive data.
If you do not take security of your business seriously, don't be surprised if your company is crippled by a breach some time down the line.
2. Develop A Written Security Policy
Come up with a comprehensive guideline that clearly defines what the organization's sensitive data is, and which articulates the procedures related to the handling of that information. It should specify the type of applications one should install on the system, who has the access to the information, and the degree of the access. Is it full or limited? What is the precise procedure to follow in case of a data breach? Since employees frequently store sensitive business data on their personal devices, the policy should also clarify the kind of emails one should send out and those permitted into the system. Moreover, it should define how to protect the data on those gadgets using passwords. Furthermore, the cyber security policy should cover social media, which exposes startups to breaches, in particular through click-baits.
3. Introduce A Minimum User Data Practice
The more online data a team handles, the higher its chances of getting exposed to cyber-attacks. Therefore, try as much as possible to limit the amount of information you collect. As a safe measure, limit your data collection and retaining to vital information that your business needs. Similarly, avoid collecting non-mandatory data. Here, you should keep a close eye on social media platforms as users tend to click and like shareable links, which might compromise your security system.
4. Train Your Employees On Cyber Security
Your staff frequently interact with the system, which means they are a highly likely source of cyber-security breaches. They must, therefore, clearly understand what the company policy and procedures concerning the handling of business information are. Putting in place a plan to regularly train employees on internet safety and importance of maintaining data confidentiality would serve in the best interest of startups. The training manual should cover how to select strong and secure passwords, how to identify and handle unwanted emails, the importance of backing up data and how to backup regularly. Lastly, encourage employees to be vocal and free to point out any strange developments on their devices.
Even with the best cyber-security resources in the universe, a company's data systems can still get breached in one split second of a security lapse.
5. Consider Data Safeguards And Encryption
Source for the best anti-virus and anti-malware protections that can help to revamp your cyber-security efforts. Such applications will encrypt your sensitive material like financial records, payment information, passwords, customer details and employee info. Besides, they can detect and alert you of an impending threat, enabling you to take swift preventative action. Also, ensure that your system has a strong, secure password that restricts access to only authorized personnel. A safe password is one that uses alpha-numeric characters. The good news is that there are integrated solutions, which provide the convenience of managing your security plans through a single console.
6. Adopt Data Security Best Practices
Even with the best cyber-security resources in the universe, a company's data systems can still get breached in one split second of a security lapse. It is, therefore, prudent to adopt best practices when it comes to data handling. For starters, encourage employees to change their passwords once or twice a month. They should also avoid leaving their computers unattended while in the "logged-in" state. The company on its part should ensure that the information system security remains up-to-date at all times. Doing so might involve conducting scheduled security risk assessment exercises, as well as conducting frequent system upgrades. Additionally, the startup should have secure and reliable data destruction and IT asset disposition solutions, and only engage business stakeholders who value and respect the confidentiality of data.
7. Partner With IT Security Firms
If all these tips seem too daunting, then the best shot for a startups to guarantee the safety of their critical data, is by working together with experienced security firms. A word of caution, though: carefully screen the companies to ascertain that they have a good track record, experience and credible references within the IT spectrum.
Though new start-ups and IT companies seem to be launching by the dozen every day, not very many stick around for the long haul. One of the factors contributing to a company's strength is data security. If you do not take security of your business seriously, don't be surprised if your company is crippled by a breach some time down the line.