Cybersecurity is rapidly becoming a significant concern for businesses all over the world. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Risk Report, data breaches and cyber threats are the fourth and fifth most serious risks businesses around the world are facing. While cybercriminals can target any company regardless of its size, young start-ups and SMBs are more vulnerable to cyberattacks than their large and established counterparts.
Every business has vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit. What puts start-ups at a higher risk of attack is the fact that the vast majority of them don’t have the capabilities or knowledge to combat these threats on their own. That’s why 43% of cyberattacks are targeted at small businesses, including start-up companies. Start-ups are especially vulnerable to malicious attacks in their first 18 months of operation.
Cyberthreats Facing Start-ups
Cyberattacks and data breaches are rapidly becoming the norm for start-ups, often with catastrophic consequences. If you are a start-up entrepreneur, know that your business is a direct target of an attack. What are some of the most common cyber threats start-ups face?
Malware: In a malware attack, hackers will introduce or install malicious software in your server or IT system. The malware allows hackers to delete, modify, or steal your data. There are many forms of malware attacks depending on the type of malicious code the hackers are using.
Phishing: In a phishing attack, the attackers create a fake website to capture sensitive data especially login credentials. The cybercriminals may also pose as a trusted source and send phishing links and attachments to multiple targets via email or text message. Phishing accounts for over 90 percent of cyberattacks.
Data leaks: A data leak is an unauthorized transmission of sensitive information from within a business to an external environment. The information exposed through a data leak may include contact info, user credentials, payment card information, etc.
For a modern-day internet start-up, information is key to success and if someone steals it, the business is as good as gone. The effects of cyberattacks on start-ups and small businesses are far-reaching, often ending with the company going out of business. Here are some things you can do to reduce the risk of a cyberattack.
Assess Risks and Vulnerabilities
Assessing risks and vulnerabilities helps you know where your business is weakest. Being aware of your weak points helps you defend against the wide range of cyber threats. You can hire an external consultant to carry out the risk assessment.
Install Antivirus Software
Antivirus or antimalware refers to a collection of programs designed to protect your system from harmful software. Malicious software may be in the form of viruses, trojans, spyware, worms, etc. Antivirus software helps you protect your start-up’s data from these online threats.
Use a VPN
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are most often used by corporations to protect sensitive data, and you can do the same for your start-up. A secure VPN connection will protect your office’s network against DDoS attacks and a wide range of other online threats.
Employees need training on cybersecurity best practices to protect themselves and the business against cyberattacks and data breaches. Training sessions should include guidance on how to make strong passwords and keep them private as well as how to recognize spoofed or malicious emails.
Back-Up Your Data
A good backup strategy is essential to your company’s cybersecurity as it offers a way to restore lost or destroyed data. Backing up your data offsite can help you to quickly recover your data and get back to business after a cyberattack. Implementing a reliable backup plan can help your business prevent a ransomware attack.
Start-ups are an appealing target for cybercriminals. Most start-ups use some kind of technology to store and manage customer information. Without an adequate computer and network security — which most start-ups don’t have, hackers can easily find entry points to access valuable data. Use these tips to reduce the risk of a data breach and improve your start-up’s data security.