10 Ways How you can Secure your Startup against Cyber Risks in 2021

Arbaz Sayed Arbaz Sayed
Aug 2, 2021 6 min read
10 Ways How you can Secure your Startup against Cyber Risks in 2021

Startups and small businesses are at serious risk of cybercrime. Ransomware, IoT attacks, DDoS attack and deepfakes are threats to growing companies who lack the professional protection that larger firms may enjoy.

It’s crucial that startups and small businesses invest in IT security to provide the protection they need to power productivity. If you’re struggling to identify where to start, here are 10 ways to set up cybersecurity for startups.

Why Startups must get serious about protection
Invest in Antivirus protection
Commit 100% to the cloud
Protect all Passwords
Create Professional policies
Restrict Network access
Safely store sensitive data
Establish a culture of security
Have a Recovery backup plan
Invest in protection
Work with a IT partner
FAQ

Why Startups must get serious about protection

Almost half (46%) of all UK businesses were the victims of cyber-attacks, the Government found in a 2020 survey. Across the world, 53% of small businesses are targeted by hackers and online criminals, says Cisco – and the threat level is increasing.

Of those businesses attacked, 33% experienced a cyber breach once a week in 2020, costing almost £1,000 each time to fix the problem. As well as incurring expenses, companies can suffer from data losses and damage to reputation that can be more difficult to claw back.

While startups may not have established a profile, missing protection makes them easy targets for online criminals. A lack of investment in infrastructure, personal safety, and a robust IT security culture means that startups can be easy pickings for online predators.

The National Cyber Security Centre has created a set of simple guidelines for startups, but these are far too basic for most businesses.

At Syntax, we work with businesses of all sizes to safeguard their IT systems and provide IT security solutions that deliver the highest levels of protection.

Invest in Antivirus protection

While the Government may have recorded a fall in viruses or other malware (from 33% to 16%), strong antivirus software should still be the first investment you make.

Online threats have increased by almost 30% during the Coronavirus pandemic, as digital criminals attempt to take advantage of lapses in online defenses.

Antivirus software acts as a first line in protection, alerting you to threats and safeguarding your systems from identified risks. While it may be tempting to use free antivirus software, avoid it. Investing in a professional antivirus package is the only way to enjoy total peace of mind and protection.

Installing your antivirus software is just the start; you’ll also need to ensure that everyone in your organisation installs updates as soon as they’re released as new threats emerge every day.

Think you’re protected using a Mac? Macworld provides a list of all threats, and it’s growing every day. Whatever platform you use, invest in anti-virus software.

Commit 100% to the cloud

Storing documents and data in the cloud isn’t just convenient; it can be much safer too. As a business owner, you maintain control and oversight of all information. You’ll have an audit trail, too, enabling you to see who is accessing what data and when. It’s easy to generate audit logs in Microsoft 365, providing total transparency.

By using cloud services, you can hopefully avoid dangerous practices, such as saving to a local computer, emailing files through a web-based provider, or using external storage devices such as USB sticks.


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Protect all Passwords

An incredible 85% of all data breaches were caused by human error, including poor password protection, Verizon found in its 2021 survey. The problem is your people. A Google survey found that 65% of people used the same passwords for multiple accounts. This gives hackers and online criminals easy access to your systems.

Staff must understand the risks of poor password etiquette, including reusing the same password multiple times. Other simple but common issues include writing passwords down or sharing them with other employees.

Create Professional policies

The Federation of Small Business recommends you create a password policy to ensure staff choose (and don’t reuse) passwords, and we agree. But you should go further. Every startup and small business should develop professional policies to safeguard IT systems.

A strong policy will spell out precisely what you expect of each staff member, including what they shouldn’t access, how to manage data, keep passwords secret and more. An IT policy will also ensure that your organisation adheres to legislation, including GDPR and UK data protection rules.

Restrict Network access

Cloud platforms enable you to set tiered access levels, allowing only those who need the information to access it. This may mean that only your accounts team, for example, can access information on invoices and outgoings.

It’s critical as insider threats – where someone within your organisation intentionally accesses information they should – are on the rise. Research in 2020 found that 60% of all data breaches are caused by insider threats. Don’t give anyone – outside or inside your organisation – a chance.

Safely store sensitive data

Data is likely to be an organisation’s greatest asset and its most significant risk. Protecting data isn’t just a legal duty; an information breach can lead to long-lasting damage to your reputation too.

Cloud storage systems provide extra safety for your data. For example, you can set tiered access, provide password protection and see who has accessed data and when. Secure cloud storage systems are also external to your business and regularly backed up, removing one stress point from your IT security.

Establish a culture of security

We’ve identified that your people are often the weakest link in your IT security, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Establishing a positive security culture ensures that all staff – from the boardroom to the backroom – take IT security seriously.

Each member of staff should understand their role in keeping your startup safe. Installing updates, protecting passwords and identifying potential threats are just some of the ways you can create a culture of IT security.

It’s also critical that staff have the confidence to immediately raise an alert if something goes wrong (and unfortunately, it will).

Have a Recovery backup plan

It’s highly likely that you’ll experience an IT security threat, so we recommend that every startup has a robust disaster recovery plan. Each plan should include details of how you’ll manage your hardware, software and essential systems in a crisis.

The priority here is to ensure the safety of crucial data and to restore systems as soon as possible so you can continue to work.

Using cloud-based systems and software can reduce your time offline, restoring productivity – and profitability – as quickly as possible.


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Invest in protection

Smaller businesses invest proportionally smaller amounts in IT security than larger firms, stats show. This increases their risk of damaging data breaches and online threats.

Every startup should ensure that IT security is a priority and invest in it. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach here; the amount you spend depends on your organisation, systems, and the security risks you face.

Our advice is to regularly review IT security spending and avoid the temptation to cut costs or corners.

Work with a IT partner

Managing IT security is a full-time job, but too many startups struggle to balance priorities, compromising their protection. Working with an experienced partner can prove to be a cost-effective way to manage your IT systems.

Outsourcing support can be cheaper and more effective than in-sourcing the task to an already over-stretched IT team. Experienced providers can deliver 24/7 support and guidance, as well as protecting you from new and emerging threats.

FAQ

Do startups need cybersecurity?

Yes, If you're a small business or a startup you are vulnerable to hackers and so you should step up your cybersecurity to Keep your startup safe from hackers, data loss and breaches.

What are the 3 major types of cybersecurity?

Cloud Security, Network Security, and Application Security are the 3 major types of cyber security.

Why do small businesses need cybersecurity?

Small businesses should invest in cybersecurity  to protect their own business, their customers, and their data from growing cybersecurity threats.

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