You may not want to spend your limited funds on it, but cybersecurity for your startup is one of those invisible necessities you should invest in from Day 1. After all, you don’t realize how truly valuable it is until your assets are compromised. Do you have a plan to implement cybersecurity for your startup?
Many business owners don’t, but there’s no time like the present to create one.
Websites, accounts, and network systems of small and medium-sized organizations are increasingly under attack from hackers. As such, there are some simple steps you can – and should – take to minimize the risk of damage.
Here are four ways you can incorporate effective cybersecurity practices to help safeguard your digital assets:
Keeping everything updated is probably one of the easiest steps you can take for incorporating cybersecurity for your startup. Your security software needs to stay current to fight constantly evolving viruses, spyware, and malware out there.
The good news is that you don’t always have to take time out of your packed schedule to do this. Just set your software program for automatic updates at a time that doesn’t interfere with your normal working hours. Also, make sure you keep your web browser and operating system updated with the latest versions.
Securing access to your business network is at the heart of maintaining your cybersecurity. This step has several components:
When it comes to cybersecurity for your startup, your first step should be installing a hardware firewall. Adding a software firewall is also very important, but the hardware firewall is your first line of defense. If you or any of your employees work from home, you’ll want to install a firewall on your home network as well.
Any device that connects to your business or WiFi network needs to be secured. It’s not just mobile phones and office computers, though. What about your employee who uses a personal laptop at the office, or the Fitbit or smartwatch you wear?
All of these seemingly harmless devices are potential vulnerabilities in your system through which a hacker can enter your network.
Apply the same strict cybersecurity guidelines to these devices to be sure you are protecting your business from all possible hacker entry points. Follow this simple but highly effective rule to reduce your vulnerability to cyberattacks: If a device doesn’t need to be online or if it’s not in use, shut it off or turn off the Internet connection.
Create restricted access to the company’s most sensitive data and systems, and give out the password only to employees who require access to get their job done. Don’t forget to regularly change your passwords, and make sure they are strong. This a critical step in protecting your network. Try Random.org, which generates very strong passwords for you.
Have you heard of ransomware? Well, it’s a nasty bug meant to make your business assets inaccessible until you pay a ransom to get them back.
It’s brutal and can wreak some serious havoc in your startups daily running if you’re ever a victim.
Therefore, another key tip for cybersecurity for your startup, is to make a habit of backing up your most important files and applications on a regular basis or set them up to automatically back up at a time that works for you.
You can back up to the cloud, but it’s best to also back up to an external hard drive that isn’t connected to your network. Create several local copies to be safe, but be careful where you store them. Choose a safe or other secure location with limited access.
Avoid storing sensitive data in the cloud, like passwords or credit card and bank details. Although entrepreneurs are increasingly moving their data and work processes to the Cloud, nothing, including your cloud service provider, is 100 percent hacker-proof.
Also, be sure to choose a service provider that encrypts your data. Even though you won’t have sensitive data there, you still wouldn’t want hackers to get access to your client lists or other proprietary data.
It’s great if you’ve already taken all of the above steps, but don’t get too comfy. In order to protect your startup, cybersecurity needs to remain a priority in your business. Stay alert, keep an eye out for anything suspicious when working online, and create awareness among your employees. Write up a document of cybersecurity policies, post it in the office, and send it out to all your employees. Find the time to hold a meeting with your employees to go over any questions.
When in doubt, you can continue educating yourself about how to better protect your startup by going through a course from Small Business Administration or checking out the videos from StaySafeOnline. If you have the budget for it, there are also cybersecurity firms you can hire to help monitor your business.
It can be worrisome to hear about companies experiencing data breaches. However, as cyber threats evolve, so do the security measures available to prevent them. Think of these practices as a regular part of your business tasks, like paying your employees or doing inventory. It’s just something you have to do, and eventually, it becomes second nature.
Hopefully, I’ve convinced you to start making cybersecurity a priority when you’re thinking of how to protect your startup.
Another valuable tool for your arsenal is actionable threat intelligence.
If you found this post helpful, please be sure to share it with your peers. Online security benefits us all and will only become more critical as technology’s presence grows in our community.
Get informed. Stay safe.