Every business in the world is at risk of being hacked, no matter its size. In fact, small businesses are often more appealing to hackers because they typically do not have the same security safeguards in place as larger companies do, making them more vulnerable.
Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report found that 43% of security breaches involved small businesses, and Ponemon Institute’s Cost of a Data Breach Report shows that the average breach costs a business $3.92 million. That figure would devastate a small business.
Today, protecting your startup’s data with cybersecurity measures is non-negotiable. Here are some manners to enforce them.
1.Have a firewall in place
A firewall is a must requirement for every business as it is first line of defense against hackers. It prevents unauthorized access to your network and protects it from malicious software. If an outsider tries to gain access, the firewall uses predefined rules to determine who to allow and who to block.
Firewalls do more than just protect your company’s data from cybercriminals. They can also generate in-depth reports about the network’s traffic, and filters can be set up to regulate and monitor internet policies, such as visiting social media sites while working.
2.Go the extra mile with background checks
According to the Clearswift Insider Threat Index, 42% of security breaches are caused by employees and 74% of incidents were caused by employees, customers, suppliers, or others within a company’s network.
Take background checks a step further, and instead of verifying past employers and calling references, test potential new hires’ knowledge of cybersecurity measures. Consider placing new employees on a probationary period with limited access to sensitive data and monitor their browsing history for any unusual activity.
3.Take continuing education seriously
Employees are human, and humans make mistakes. Because of this, employees are the most vulnerable aspect of any business.
Educate employees on cybersecurity measures and how they can identify some more common breaches such as phishing scams. The Webroot SMB Cybersecurity Preparedness report shows that while nearly all businesses train their employees on best practices for cybersecurity, less than half conduct ongoing training. In today’s world where cyberattacks get ever-more complex, continuing cybersecurity education for your employees is crucial.
4.Do away with weak passwords
Appallingly, there are many peoples use passwords like, “123456.” The most popular passwords, unsurprisingly, are also the most easily hacked. There should be combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. You should avert using any sensitive details like address, birthday, year of born, etc.
You should change passwords on a regular base, preferably every 90 days, and this policy should be imposed company wide. Something as simple as a Google Calendar reminder can make it easy to keep track. It should go without saying, but passwords should also be changed across the board if any of them are compromised.
5.Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Two-Factor Authentication, or 2FA, is a process which requires users to enter an additional code or biometric factor after entering their initial password. This creates an additional layer of protection in the event a password is compromised. Startups should employ 2FA on any internal accounts, such as email and web hosting.
6.Be wary of links
Never open a link sent from an unknown source or if you weren’t expecting it, even if you do know the person who sent it, and train employees to do the same. It’s easy enough to quickly send a message or call the person to see if it was legitimate before opening it. In doing thus, you may know that the account was hacked.
7.Keep software up to date
Software companies are constantly making improvements and changes to their systems to combat against cyberattacks. Make sure everyone in the company knows to not ignore those update reminders — having an up-to-date system ensures you have the newest security measures working on your side. This goes for your firewall also.
8.Secure your online connection
A virtual private network, or VPN, is a highly effective way to protect your company’s data, as it encrypts all data sent or received over the network, creating a secure digital tunnel. Data sent over a VPN is covered and can’t be accessed even by law enforcement officials.
Further, enact a company policy that employees are not to connect to unsecured networks such as public hotspots.
9.Protect your site with an SSL certificate
An SSL certificate is another way that provides additional protection for your startup website. Your SSL protects your company’s website from cyber intruders, specifically those seeking to collect or encrypt your data. SSL certificate helps thwart cybercriminals because it encrypts data before it’s transmitted, making it impossible to decipher if it were to be intercepted.
SSL certificates are not costly nowadays. No matter what option you select, an SSL certificate for your startup is an absolute must.
10.Backup data regularly
Hacking has the potential to destroy your business’s database, potentially leading to shutdowns that could cost your business a not-so-small fortune. Whether you use external hard drives, the cloud, or another method, having access to your data in a secondary location is paramount in the event it gets compromised or worse, destroyed.
Consider using a disaster recovery service, which is created to protect and restore data if it is lost or compromised. Your systems can be recovered and rebooted in cloud storage so you can carry on with business operations until things are fully and safely restored.
11.Encrypt your data
In layman’s terms, encrypting data means to make it indecipherable to hackers and others attempting to authorize it without access. A computer’s files and folders can be encrypted, as well as those stored in the cloud and flash drives.
In addition to protecting your organization’s data, regulations require all businesses to secure personally identifying information they collect. If this data is stolen or leaked, your company could be litigated.
Hackers always target small businesses and startups as they do have minimal security on their servers or websites. It is in the interest of a business to keep your data secured with proper security and take above mentioned security measures to keep your business safe.