No one can afford a cyber attack… Typical Cyber Security challenges in early startup eco systems

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Source of the problem:

Establishing trust as a startup can be a long and demanding process. Whether you are a brick-and-mortar store or a shop online, need to have cybersecurity set up to protect the business from hackers. Cyber criminals target startup businesses because security measures may not be fully in place yet. Customer trust is critical in a time of widespread cybercrime and data privacy attacks. Startups face the challenge of building consumer confidence as they build their business.

Issues arise when a startup decided from an initial idea to building real workflows and hiring additional workforces. At this point, the small group of like minded people expands and becomes a team of random workforces with different views on professional experiences. In such a team, workforces may have very different understandings of what information should be considered as confidential and how to keep it secure.

Here is an example: one employee decides that it would be convenient to write the password for an online service on a whiteboard, their thinking is, everyone who needs it can find it quickly and easily. Another member of staff posts a selfie in the office on a social network, writing “who would write something confidential on the whiteboard, where everyone can see it”? This kind of misunderstanding is one of the reasons why young startups can run into cyber-security issues. The problem can be solved only by developing a corporate cyber security culture.

At the same time, people who come to work in startups are often enthusiasts and adventurers; they quickly fall in love with the idea, and can often quickly change their interests and leave. In addition, quite often modern startups depend on infosec specialists who generally tend to move from business to business over the course of several years.

The combination of these two facts can create high employee turnover. In such conditions various mistakes can easily multiply, especially cyber security related ones. Therefore it is easy to overlook a cyber threat that can easily be avoided.

Step by Step Guide to cybersecurity for startups,

1. Get the latest Cybersecurity Software

Hackers are devising more ingenious ways to break into systems and infect it with malware or steal data. Get the best and latest cyber security software you can get. Some business owners would get free versions to cut on costs. Free antivirus, anti-spam, and firewall software tools are okay as an initial layer of protection, but if you are serious about doing business, and before you even collect an ounce of data from customers, upgrade to the paid version to unlock all its security features. But merely installing software is not enough to mitigate all security risks. You need to keep your site updated. There is a lot of reliable security software recommended by experts that have a vast network enabling them to discover the latest malware attacks and develop bug fixes and security patches right away for their users. So, the next time the team get a notification for updates, whatever do, do not ignore it. Install these latest updates to keep the network and devices safe.

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2. Use a Robust Internet Security Suite and Firewall

Apart from ensuring networks and devices are protected, make sure that to have a robust internet security protection as well. Most antivirus software has integrated internet security & firewall. With such a program, can prevent accidental downloading of malicious software, and better detect and stop attacks like MITM (Man in the Middle), phishing, Trojan malware, and etc..

3. Install SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificate

It is a standard security protocol to install an SSL or Secure Sockets Layer. It keeps internet connection secure and safeguards sensitive information and data sent between server and browser. It prevents cybercriminals from snooping upon system and reading or modifying the data. The encryption protects internal and external customers data”s, who give their personal information and even their banking details. It helps to establish customers trust , knowing that their communications are encrypted, and customers can even make financial transactions with peace of mind. Trust brings in higher web traffic, and higher web traffic drives sales. As per the studies,85% per cent of online customers say they refuse to purchase from a website with no SSL certificate. Site URLs that start with HTTPS can encrypt standard HTTP requests for a more secure shopping experience.

4. Set up a Secured Cloud Storage

Cloud-based storage and back-up solutions add another layer of security to the business. However, need to limit the access to the cloud storage, just as do with the physical networks and devices. Making cloud storage secure starts with a local back-up of data, choosing an efficient cloud provider, and avoid storing sensitive information on the cloud. 

Sensitive information includes the banking details of customers. If a file is for archiving, meaning do not need it frequently, store it on local server instead of the cloud. Use cloud storage for files used in team projects or files that need to be constantly accessed. Once a file is no longer required that often, move it out of the cloud and into physical servers. But some cloud providers supply a higher level of protection available in case want to use them for archiving as well. It is crucial then that to check the security features that will be unlocked prior to avail of this premium service.

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5. Create or build a dedicated Cyber / Information security Team

Educating team is not just about increasing their knowledge of cybersecurity. It is about building a culture of security protocols in the team and organization. Everyone needs to be on one page regarding security practices so that to avoid any point of vulnerability. Some instances of data breach recorded over the years started with an unknowing employee opening a phishing email, or somebody in the team carelessly releasing sensitive data. All of these must be avoided. Need to have big protection now where it matters, as are still building brand name and reputation.

6. Use Strong, Complicated Passwords

Every member of the team needs to have their own network account. It is crucial to track everyone’s individual activity in the network. It is easier to trace errors and breaches when there is personal accountability. Every member of the team must also have their unique, complex, and hard-to-guess passwords. Also, ensure that the employees have no access to download or install software programs on their own. Limiting network access improves the security of the network even more. 

7. Require online vendors to prioritize security

If accepting third-party sellers on corporate website, make sure that require them to follow the same security protocols you require from your company or team. Before legally entering third-party partnerships, check and verify the legitimacy of the company, and the online seller’s capacity for cybersecurity measures, mitigation, maintenance, and resources they use. 

Make sure that you also include your Infosec team when vetting vendors. He or she can help to study the vendor’s proposal to check if there are security risks or issues, even before entering the partnership. It saves the potential of damaging online reputation in the future, just because unknowingly allowed untrustworthy vendors into the business. It is smart to include Infosec team in making decisions as crucial as this to better protect the customers as well. 

Typical cybersecurity mistakes

Let’s imagine: you hadn’t noticed how small startup became a fully-fledged business. What cybersecurity mistakes could you have made so far?

1.Excessive access rights

Often when a startup employee needs access to corporate resources or services, he /she immediately gets administrator rights. The person who shares those access rights usually thinks it’s easier to give access to everything once, without understanding the real needs of a particular employee and his responsibilities, than get new requests for access every week. But the more access rights an employee has, the chance of an error grows. If you want to minimize the number of cyber incidents, each workflow participant should have only those access rights that are necessary for their tasks.

2.Lack of information storage system rules

In general, this is bad for any business. But in a startup, due to the above-mentioned staff turnover, one day you may simply not be able to find important work files. Most likely they exist somewhere, but where exactly is the secret. A developer or marketing intern knew about this once, but left the company recently without telling anyone.

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3.Forgotten passwords

Another common problem is forgotten passwords for corporate social networks or other rarely used services. Perhaps a new staff member sets up a Facebook or LinkedIn account to help promote the business, but fails to share the account details with other members of staff, then promptly leaves for another role – the login credentials have gone, with little chance of recovery.

4.Shared passwords

Some people may think that with high turnover it may be a good idea to use shared accounts. But the more people know a password, the more likely it leaks due to phishing, negligence or malicious intent. In addition, it greatly complicates the investigation of an incident, when it happens. Let’s say it turns out that someone has gained access to an account – the experts suspect that the password was intercepted by malware and wants to check the computer of an employee who had access. Only to find that everyone had!

5.Passwords in cloud services

Another password-related mistake is to store them in some file in cloud Docs, as incorrect setup means it’s usually accessible by anyone with the link. The obvious advantage is that it is very convenient to transfer the necessary information to all employees, it is enough to put all the necessary passwords in one document and send a link. However, such documents can be indexed by search engines. In other words, the file with all your passwords could potentially fall into the wrong hands.

6.Lack of two-factor authentication

Some of the problems associated with passwords would be less dangerous if startups did not neglect two factor authentication on work accounts. This allows you to protect important data from various theft methods, such as phishing. First of all, two-step protection should be put on all financial services.

Summary:

Be emerging-ready with a robust Cybersecurity Setup today. Cyber security may not be a top of mind protocol for most startups. But you can set your business apart. Anyone who wants to build anything substantial must build correctly from the foundation. Your data management system and cyber security should be one of your company’s top priorities. You will see your business grow robust as well, able to endure modern day attacks and threats. Be future-ready with a good cyber security setup today.