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5 Ways Start-Ups Can Avoid Prevalent Cyber Risks Facing Their Businesses

Updated: Dec 31, 2020

Forbes predicts that there will be an over 300% increase in ransomware attacks occurring this year. What’s more, these attacks will be targeting small businesses and companies. If this prediction is anything to go by, then this should is a wakeup call to small and medium entrepreneurs who are in startups.

For a long time, we have taken cyber-attacks to be a threat that only big multimillion-dollar companies should be concerned about. Things have changed. Today, all businesses irrespective of the level of the establishment can fall victim. This article discusses the security issues surrounding startups. Read on to understand the security concerns that you should be wary about as well as some proven ways of staying safe.

Cybercriminals continue to change tact and up their game. For the security of your startup, be on the lookout for the following:

Data breaches

A data breach occurs when confidential or sensitive information gets released or exposed to an unsecured environment.

A data breach can occur by accident or following a deliberate attack. It targets important details such as work accounts, credit cards, and other payment information. Once exposed, this sensitive data can be used for malicious activities.

The 2013 attack on adobe where over 150 million user records were illegally accessed by hackers is an example of how things can go wrong should confidential data be exposed. The attack exposed the login details of approximately 38 million users.

Malware attacks

In a malware attack, hackers inject harmful software into your device. The software ‘secretly’ collects your user data without you knowing it. Malicious software often comes attached to free software downloads.

Phishing scams

In a phishing scam, hackers engineer a deceptive tactic to lure you in order to access and steal your user data. It may be in the form of an email or short message over the different communication platforms.

The message appears deceptively true but contains links that redirect you to other pages. Following such links may expose all the information on your device as well as the other devices that are on the startup’s network.

Denial of service attacks

In a DoS attack, hackers intercept the network making it unavailable to the intended users. Data may be compromised during a DoS attack.

Ransomware attacks

As suggested in the name, a ransomware attack happens when hackers ask for a ransom pay after successfully hijacking an organization's critical data. You all remember the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack whose target was computer devices operating on the Microsoft Windows operating system. Upon successful hijacking of data, the attackers would then demand a ransom payment in bitcoins.

5 Ways To Secure Your Startup

Even as a startup, it is never too early to consider cybersecurity for your business. This way, you will prevent yourself from being one of the 58% of startups who suffer data breaches silently. Here are five proven ways to secure startups.

1. Conduct a risk assessment

This is a check on the vulnerability of your startup systems. A risk assessment helps you identify the potential loopholes that can be exploited by hackers and other attackers. All identified penetrations should be sealed and audited regularly.

2. Invest in a VPN router to secure all the devices in the office

You can also secure the network with a VPN to keep attackers at bay. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) creates a secure and private tunnel for all your internet traffic. The information you send or receive is encrypted until it reaches the desired destination. Installing a VPN on your router ensures security for all the devices that are connected to that network.

3. Regular software updates

Outdated software versions are always at a higher risk of data breaches. Newer versions, in most cases, contain security patches aimed at sealing existing vulnerabilities.

4. Create and execute a data security policy

This is the bare minimum for a startup to protect its user data. The policy should stipulate security policies that must be observed by all employees within the enterprise. For instance, how should files be shared, data encryption strategies, devices sharing, can employees bring their devices to work, and so on.

5. Stakeholder sensitization

You should also train all the stakeholders on the importance of data and device security. Have regular training aimed at updating them with the latest trends in cybersecurity, and how to remain vigilant. With sensitization and involvement, the different stakeholders in your startup can help keep it safe.

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