The cybersecurity landscape has undergone major transformations over the past decade. With the dawn of 5G infrastructure and the Internet of Things, cyber threats are expected to skyrocket.
This poses a huge risk for startup businesses that have more on their plate than just cyber security. But here’s a reason why security should be at the top of your list as a startup: A 2019 report by FBI’s Internet Crime report indicated a $3.5 billion loss for businesses globally to cyber attackers.
These figures show that it’s never too early to invest in cybersecurity for startups.
Types of cyber risks facing startups
Among the many threats facing your business, the most common risks to watch out for include:
Ransomware refers to malware that infects systems and devices and encrypts valuable files forcing the owners to pay a ransom to regain control. Although it’s been in the market for a long time, attackers now appear to have shifted their target to business for a higher payout. With an estimated 4000 ransomware attacks happening daily, this attack can cripple your business in minutes.
Ransomware risks are significantly higher for startups, especially those with weak security systems. A case in point is the Heritage Company, which was forced to close operations, after an unfruitful attempt to recover their data from a ransomware attack.
Phishing attacks are among the most popular threats used by attackers against consumers and businesses. It accounts for approximately 90% of all data breaches in businesses of all sizes.
Phishing occurs when an attacker, pretending to be a legitimate source, leads you to click malicious ads or links. In other cases, the attacker tricks you into sharing personal details about the business. The fact that it relies on social engineering makes it even harder to find a full-proof solution against these attacks.
An example of this could be; Receiving an email supposedly from your ‘bank,’ alerting you of an attempted hacking on your account, which then prompts you to reset your password by following a link provided.
Malware are pieces of malicious codes that infiltrate networks and systems to steal and manipulate data. They appear in many forms, including trojans, worms, viruses, adware, spyware, etc.
Like phishing, malware utilizes social engineering to access the vulnerabilities of a business’s network. Attackers disguise their codes in email attachments or links to unsecured websites where they can then collect your personal details.
Once you open these links, the malware is downloaded to your system and begins terrorizing your network.
Stepping up cybersecurity
With cybercrime being an inevitable evil, there are several measures you can take to protect your startup. Below are a few:
Keep updating your software
Every software needs to be updated once in a while. This is because, as users interact with new software, they expose security flaws that may be a gateway for hackers. Updates fix these errors and prevent them from arising in the future. You, therefore, need to ensure that all your software is up-to-date.
This applies to your hosting account software. Choose a host (and also check antivirus offers and deals) that is responsive and keeps their servers up-to-date, especially versions of PHP, WordPress and WordPress plugins.
Get a reliable VPN
Being new in the market, you want you to maintain the highest privacy levels for your operations. This is why a VPN is crucial. The way VPNs work is by providing a secure channel for you to tunnel all your data traffic, making them invisible to third parties.
This way, all your passwords, and other banking records remain protected. Some startups use a VPN router so the traffic going through all the connected devices can be secured.
Get an Anti-virus/ Malware remover
While anti-virus isn’t full proof against hacking, it’s crucial at diverting most malicious links and ads from your devices. A malware remover helps you identify that stubborn and hidden malware such as trojan horses, and deletes them from your system.
Educate your team
Even with the best VPN, anti-virus, and firewall, your start-up is still at a huge risk if your team doesn’t understand proper security protocols. In fact, user error is one of the biggest reasons why hackers gain access to your systems. So, take your time and educate them on some of the pointers of phishing emails, and links to avoid.
Have a password policy
The message of setting complex and unique passwords for all your accounts can never be overemphasized. Your passwords should never be the same for different accounts – this applies to your team as well. The easier a password is, the easier it is for software or hackers to crack it. The more sophisticated it is, the better.
Encrypt your data
Most businesses focus too much on what could happen online and forget their databases. Since modern servers and pcs come with device encryption features, make it your aim to encrypt all your important files. Offline encryption makes it harder for an attacker to access your files, even if he’s physically present.
Conduct a regular risk assessment
Regardless of the size of your startup, risk assessment is crucial. Look into the software used by your organization, examine the employee transactions, and assess the likelihood of the risks. By regularly analyzing your systems, you’ll easily spot most vulnerabilities and patch them beforehand.
Advancement in internet technology now means higher cyber risks for businesses of all sizes. The increase in cybercrime now means that no business is ever too small to fall victim to this attack – including your startup. Therefore, it’s time for you to take preventive measures to secure your business before these attackers come knocking on your door.