10 Practical Tips for Start-Ups to Harden Their Cyber Security

Cyber security is one of the biggest problems facing businesses in all industries, irrespective of their size. Start-ups are particularly at risk as they are so busy racing against time to get their products and services to market, that hardening cyber security often takes a backseat. This gets especially dangerous if you are storing sensitive customer and business data or engage in financial transactions.

Even if your start-up is not directly dealing in the online space, cyber threats have now reached a point where even brick and mortar businesses must take precautions to prevent falling victim to these security attacks. Here, we will offer 10 practical tips that you can use to harden cybersecurity for your start-up.

1. Train Your Staff on Cybersecurity Attacks

Defend the assets of your company against cyberattacks by researching, raising awareness and creating training programs for your staff.Cybercriminals often use bribery, impersonation, physical theft and misdirection to breach your network.

Many cyberattacks are a result of intentional or accidental involvement of your employees. This makes it critical that your security plans and polices take all these factors into consideration. Train your staff so they recognize such events as tactics used by cybercriminals to launch their attacks. It will be great if your staff have deeper knowledge on cybersecurity as it will make their work more faster and easier. You can visit http://cyberinsight.co/ it will give you details and ideas on how to broaden your knowledge in terms of cybersecurity career or job.

2. Create and implement a Security Best Practices Plan

Create robust security policies for your staff to follow and then administer them. Cybercriminals use scores of tactics such as onsite infiltration and impersonation on phones which are not usually associated with cyberattacks, so your policies need to go beyond the well-known attacks.

Your security plan must cover physical security of your establishment, access restrictions for sensitive data and measures for detecting and stopping insider fraud. Your cybersecurity plan cannot be comprehensive unless all these security concerns are addressed.

3. Use Access Controls to Harden Your Internal Network

You may not know your network’s vulnerabilities before someone exploits them, which makes it difficult to prevent all network intrusions. So, you must set up your internal network to prohibit intruders from getting to sensitive data or hurting your business in any other way.

Most data breaches are a result of lenient security and access controls on internal networks. Limit administrative access to key employees and enforce policies to ensure use of strong passwords. Such steps can stop the intruders from succeeding in their malicious intentions even if they do manage to get in.

4. Design IT Systems for Minimizing Cybersecurity Risks

Your start-up needs to take a very hard look at your website security if you are engaged in conducting transactions over the internet with your customers. This becomes even more critical if your start-up developsin-house web apps that it uses for running the business.

Online businesses are the most frequently targeted forms of enterprises targeted by cybercriminals for stealing data related to user accounts and payment instruments. If your start-up uses cloud services (which is a growing trend nowadays), only work with providers who use their private internal networks and have full management control over them, so your data is not routed over the public internet.

5. Get your Defensesverified by Cybersecurity Experts

The challenge of cybersecurity is keeping a finger on yourvulnerabilities and anticipating all possible ways they may be exploited. The range of attacks is large, but all it takes is one security door to be open for the attacker to enter.

One of the most effective ways of maintaining a strong security plan is to get cybersecurity professionals, who specialize in security testing, to test your defenses for any weaknesses. They will act just like cybercriminals, and let you know the exact vulnerabilities in your network and systems, if they are able to break through your defenses.

6. Keep our Software up to date

One of the main weaknesses exploited by hackers are defects and security holes in the software used by your start-up. This includes developer tools, operating systems, 3rd party applications, and in-house apps.

It is essential that your install all security fixes and patches as soon as they are released. This will help you prevent cyber attacks that may exploit these known vulnerabilities. It is best to create a formal policy and process around software updates, so you can take care of system level patches (such as operating systems) without impacting the business during the software updates.

7. Backup and Encrypt Sensitive Data

Another way of enhancing cybersecurity for your startup is to shield it from getting crippled in the event of an attack or an accident destroying your mission critical data. It is important to have a formal data protection plan in place to prevent any loss of information.

Backup all important and sensitive data to a remote datacenter or duplicated systems so you can mitigate any unforeseen disasters at the primary site. It is also critical that you encrypt all sensitive customer and company information, so any data breach does not result in release of any vital financial and personal information. Encryption will render the data useless for the hackers even if they do manage to get their hands on your data.

8. Install an SSL certificate

Installing an SSL certificate is probably the easiest and the most effective way of turning on encryption of data while it is being exchanged between the user’s browser and your web server. This turns on HTTPS and secures the communication channel, so anyone with a malicious intent listens the communication will not be able to make sense of the information being transmitted.

Not only that, the users see a visual cue of security via a padlock on their browser – this assures them and they are more likely to share their data with you and even engage in financial transactions on your website, without worrying about the security of their information. You will also geta boost on SERPs (Search Engine Result pages) which will help you get more free organic traffic from search engines. Different SSL types are there and you can get your site secured with required SSL certificate for example, if you need to protect multiple domains, consider getting a Multi Domain SSL certificate to save money and certificate management costs.

9. Prevent Denial-of-Service Attacks

As a start-up, the one attack you will find difficult to stop is DoS (Denial of service) or a DDoS (Distributed Denial of service). Such attack bombards IP address with high volume of traffic so legitimate traffic could not connect to server and website become inaccessible. To stop DDoS, you need more bandwidth to handle high spike in traffic, have a good load balance system to distribute traffic, arrange network hardware properly, deployment of anti-DDoS hardware and software.

If it is important that your website should never become inaccessible for your customers, then you need a strong protection plan against these attacks. As a start-up, it is highly unlikely that you will have inhouse resources who specialize in this – seek help from companies that specialize in defeating such kinds of attacks, so you will be ready in case you are under a DoS or a DDoS attack.

10. Prepare a Disaster Recovery Plan

At the end, if your start-up relies heavily on the use information systems to run your daily operations, you must formulate a full-proof disaster recovery plan. Cyberattacks are just one form of disaster that your business can be hit by and brought to a halt.

Your company may suffer damages and disruptions for other reasons too, for instance, employee mistakes, hardware failures and natural disasters. A sound recovery plan will help you anticipate the various kinds of disasters that may happen and be ready with the steps you need to take to mitigate the losses as soon as possible.

At last, cyber security is an involved subject and especially intimidating for start-ups. However, it is not something you can put aside as something that is not likely to impact your business. Cyber criminals have become highly sophisticated and are looking for potential victims all the time. Follow above 10 practical tips to harden cybersecurity for your startup.

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