If there ever were a time for technology-dependent businesses to beef up their IT security, it would be now. Cybercrime has not only become rampant these past few years but has also become increasingly more sophisticated. Unlike established companies that have deep enough pockets to hire prominent IT security experts, cash-strapped startups can’t always manage to pay for these resource-exhaustive solutions.
Hope is not lost for startups, though. If you’re a startup owner or IT project manager, there are several solutions that can help you keep sensitive data out of hackers’ reach. Even better news even is that these solutions won’t cost much to implement. Without further ado, here are the top 5 smart ways of keeping your startup’s data secure:
1. Encrypt your data
Data encryption is one of the most cost-effective ways of securing data. Besides being relatively cheap, encryption technology is highly convenient in the sense that even if information thieves got ahold of your data, the stolen information wouldn’t be useable.
To protect your startup from a data breach, you need to encrypt all your data. This includes highly sensitive data such as social security numbers and credit cards numbers and other less sensitive information such as email addresses. Aim for the strongest encryption available and ensure that encryption keys are stored on a different server than your secured data.
2. Secure your Wi-Fi networks
Network infiltration is one of the commonly used tactics by data thieves. So, it’s prudent to secure your startup’s private network to ensure that infiltrators won’t get a chance to ‘get in.’ There are two critical steps to take when securing your networks.
The first step involves hiding the Wi-Fi network. While the exact technicalities of this step differ from one router to another, the essence is to instruct your network device(s) not to broadcast your network’s SSID.
The next step involves password-protecting access to both your Wi-Fi network and router. Keep in mind that hackers are incredibly smart and resourceful, so you should be very careful and super selective when it comes to choosing with whom to share those passwords.
3. Update your OS and security software regularly
Software updates exist for a reason. Given that cybercriminals are persistently upping their game, IT security companies must respond in kind. So, for every new threat that emerges, security companies create updates to combat it. Nevertheless, their efforts towards tackling new threats can only be efficient if software users make an effort to install updates regularly.
To have the upper hand against cybercriminals, you need to keep your security programs and operating systems up-to-date. Download and install security updates as soon as they become available. While this exercise will only take up a few minutes of your time, it’ll be one more step towards keeping your startup’s data secure.
4. Outsource to established, compliant vendors
Due to money constraints, many startups cannot afford to house internal cyber threat intelligence or to buy top-notch, industrial-grade cybersecurity tools. Outsourcing data breach prevention and other functions happens to be the most cost-effective option for startups.
You don’t want to outsource from just any vendor you come across. What you need is to outsource to established compliant vendors and experts. This will give you access to essential, highly sophisticated and compliant cybersecurity tools that will help keep your data secure. The good thing about these tools is that they can efficiently scale with your startup’s growth.
5. Establish data security policies
There are two reasons why cybercriminals find startups as soft targets. The first one is because startups don’t usually designate enough resources to address cybersecurity issues. The second reason is that most startups don’t usually pay attention to such matters. One of the best ways to ensure that your startup doesn’t suffer the same fate as the lax ones are to establish data security policies that should be followed by your data handlers.
When creating security policies, you need to identify critical assets of your business, and then lay down clear guidelines on where they should be stored, how they should be stored, and who should be allowed access. Your policies should also include instructions on the amount of protected information should be in your possession and what to do with the data once it’s no longer needed. It’s much safer to limit the amount of protected data you have in your possession and to destroy it entirely if it’s no longer needed. After all, hackers can’t breach data that no longer exists.
6. Educate your workforce
Studies reveal that a considerable percentage of network infiltrations and data breaches occur due to employee slip-ups. Password mismanagement, unauthorized password sharing, clicking unverified links and downloading suspicious attachments are all bad practices that open a business to a plethora of risks. Training your employees about the dangers of such practices can go a long way in foiling future blunders.
As far as bringing your employees up to speed about cybersecurity is concerned, certain vital topics that should be highlighted during employee training. They include password management, data loss prevention, physical security of devices, and social engineering identification, among others.
Having a limited budget should never be used by startups as an excuse for their failure to secure data. Putting the above sensible solutions into practice can help money-starved startups to safeguard their data. That said, what measures have you taken to keep your startup data secure?