As hackers develop even more sophisticated techniques to exploit weaknesses in IT systems, it is becoming more and more important for startups to consider their IT security. A survey compiled by Nationwide reveals that 50% of small business owners are likely to receive at least one type of cyber-attack each year. While you may not see your burgeoning startup as a likely target, hackers know that small businesses can be much easier to violate than established organisations, who often employ dedicated IT professionals.
The economic impact of failing to adequately secure your network could be astronomical. For example, ransomware attacks – where computers and systems are infected with crippling malware until a payment is made to the hackers – could lead to a loss of operation, and therefore profit, while the system is locked down. This is in addition to the financial payment required to remove the ransomware.
Another reason to take IT security seriously is the threat of data leaks. Startups could face legal action if they do not take the appropriate measures to safeguard their customers’ data.
While the risks are severe, the good news is that there are a number of actions that small business owners can take to maximise their protection against security threats.
Strangely enough, it is your own staff who are your greatest cybersecurity risk. This is why it is so important to train your team members on basic IT security principles. These are some factors to ensure your staff are trained to deal with this:
— Proper management of passwords
— How to identify potential phishing attempts
— Data encryption methods
— Correct handling of client information
It is crucial that you keep regular, encrypted back-ups of your most essential data. Access to back-ups should remain inaccessible to staff and separated from your main system. While storing your data in a physical hard drive is a possibility, cloud storage offers a seamless service that can be configured to update automatically.
Protect Your Business from Malware
Malware is malicious software that can infect legitimate software. It exists in the forms of computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware and many others. It is constantly evolving, so it is absolutely vital that you install and update antivirus software on all of your IT systems. In addition to laptops and desktop computers, it is essential that all devices such as smartphones and tablets are also kept up to date with the latest software and firmware updates, as these contain crucial security upgrades.
Companies like Checkpointdirect.co.uk can help protect your startup from malware.
Use Secure Passwords
One of the most common security breach tactics is to target the factory-set passwords on hardware devices such as scanners, routers and printers. Therefore, you should ensure that all devices and applications within your company are secured with unique, strong passwords.
In the past businesses were advised to regularly force users to change their passwords, but this security guideline has since been retracted. Constant changing of passwords was seen as increasing vulnerability because new passwords could have been used elsewhere.