Cybercrime is on the rise the world over. Data shows that 43 percent of cyberattacks are targeted at small businesses. Due to their weak and sometimes non-existent security systems, start-ups and small businesses are lucrative targets for cybercriminals. Cyberattacks are rapidly becoming a significant concern for many start-ups, often with catastrophic consequences.
In addition to the financial loss, a single data breach carries major legal ramifications for a business. Here are some of the most common cybersecurity threats facing start-ups.
- Phishing: In a phishing attack, hackers use fake emails and websites purporting to be from trusted sources to steal sensitive data. Cybercriminals will often use this social engineering tactic to target employees and dupe them into revealing sensitive information. Phishing accounts for 90% of all breaches that young start-ups and small businesses face.
- Malware: Malware attacks are very common. Malware refers to various types of malicious code that cybercriminals use to compromise systems and networks to steal or destroy data on computers. These codes include threats such as trojans and viruses. An increasingly common type of malware known as ransomware is one of the biggest threats in business. Malware attacks can be very damaging to start-ups.
- Data leakage: A data leak occurs when a company’s sensitive data such as user credentials, payment card information, contact information, etc. is accidentally exposed physically in the form of lost hard drives or laptops, or digitally on the Internet. Most start-ups use connected systems that are particularly vulnerable to this form of data loss.
With nearly half of cyberattacks now directed at SMBs, start-ups and other small businesses are the new frontiers for hackers. Due to the digital nature of their business and underdeveloped security infrastructure, start-ups are an attractive target for cybercriminals.
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Here are a few ways to secure your start-up against cyberthreats:
- Assess Risks and Vulnerabilities:
Risk assessment is one of the most important steps when it comes to keeping your start-up secure. A risk assessment will help you identify recognized threats and threat actors and the probability that these threat actors will result in exposure or loss. Assessing risks and vulnerabilities gives you a clear picture of whether your security system can withstand a cyberattack or not. Have external consultants run tests on your drives, folders, websites, and other systems that have external access.
- Outsource Cybersecurity Expertise:
One of the main benefits of an outsourced security service is that a start-up can gain access to the expertise of dedicated cybersecurity professionals. You will get a level of expertise your small business can’t afford to have internally. Outsourcing the cybersecurity expertise of others rather than juggling cybersecurity with other business functions is an excellent way to ensure that your start-up is secure.
- Employee Training:
Your employees need cybersecurity training to defend themselves and the business against online adversaries. Organize regular training sessions on cybersecurity best practices to develop a culture of security in your start-up. Regular employee training helps you strengthen the most vulnerable links in your start-up’s cybersecurity. Make sure that your staff members are aware of the threats out there, how these threats might present themselves, and what to do when a threat is detected.
- Update Your Systems:
Cyberattacks are a constantly evolving threat. Cybercriminals are always coming up with newer, more sophisticated ways to break into security systems. Using old, outdated security systems puts your start-up at greater risk. Updating your software and operating systems can help you keep cybercriminals at bay. Always make sure that you are running the latest software versions and have installed the most recent security patches.
- Backup and Encrypt Your Data:
Cloud backup services are an amazing option to have in your cybersecurity arsenal. A ransomware attack renders your data encrypted and unreadable, bringing your business to a screeching halt. If you have a cloud backup in place, you will be able to recover the data you need to keep your business running after such an attack. Encrypt your backups with reliable security tools and strong passwords to make sure they are secure.
- Deploy Antivirus Software and a VPN:
Antivirus software is designed to protect your start-up from a variety of malware through a number of security features. Antivirus software is designed to identify all new security vulnerabilities as they emerge to ensure round the clock security. Also, use tools such as a VPN to enhance cybersecurity. Use a VPN router to secure all the devices in the office and protect your start-up from a wide range of online threats including malware, DDoS attacks, snooping, etc.
Cyberattacks are increasing, both in frequency and severity. These attacks are increasingly being targeted at start-ups. Young start-ups tend to put more focus on sales and business operations and fail to establish cybersecurity early on. This makes them an easy target for cybercriminals. Unlike large organizations, start-ups don’t have the resources to bounce back from a cyberattack. To avoid a devastating attack, entrepreneurs need to have robust cybersecurity measures in place.