You’ve built yourself an innovative startup, and it’s finally starting to generate some business. Then, out of nowhere, you face a major security breach. In a matter of a few minutes, everything you worked, planned, and hustled for is jeopardized.
It won’t be a surprise to hear that businesses of all sizes and stages should take their security seriously. But protecting data when a business is still in the startup stage can be quite a challenge. Not everyone in your organization may understand the importance of a cybersecurity policy or what types of data need to be protected. For the same reason, many cybercriminals prefer to target startups and small businesses. Even more, many startups don’t even start thinking about implementing cybersecurity until after a breach has occurred. Neglecting proper precautions can have tremendous financial consequences. Research shows the mean cost of a data breach in 2019, reaching $200,000, with small businesses usually losing around $9,000 per reported event. Considering that, a 2020 data breach report found that the average data breach takes nearly 280 days to detect and contain, having the right policies and controls in place to avoid these incidents is critical.
How do cybercriminals target startups and small businesses?
- Proprietary Data
- Customer Information
- Third-Party Vulnerabilities
- Lack of Finances
- Multiple Interfaces
Cybersecurity Policy for Startups and Small Businesses
Every business, big or small, should build cybersecurity based on best practices in order to maintain data and applications secure. The right cybersecurity strategy should place special emphasis on a few key areas:
Train Your People from the Very Beginning.
Make sure you educate and train your staff right from the start. The moment you begin data protection, start training your employees as well. As new teams come in, conduct a cybersecurity policy workshop to let them know how things are done. Whenever it is necessary, allow your employees to come to you for help and make sure that you go over the cybersecurity policies with your staff on a regular basis, so they always keep it top of mind. Don’t allow your business cybersecurity to be a one-time event or stagnate.
Prepare a Formal Data Security Plan.
You have to assign someone trustworthy to access which data and develop policies to guard this access. When it comes to business integrity and security, nobody should have more access than they actually need. If employees are bringing their own devices to work, make sure that those devices are using the latest protection. That may also include multi-factor biometric authentication, facial recognition, and fingerprinting, as well as continuous security checks, attack surface management, and two-step verification, among many other possible security layers. As more people join your company and new departments emerge, update your plan regularly.
Take Extra Care with Your Employee & Business Data.
One of the main security principles is that less digital copies you make of your private data, the more secure that data will be. However, this can prove to be a challenge in practice. For instance, many employees from various departments need access to the same information. Or, they access the information not only with office workstations but also with their personal devices. If one of your employees experiences a breach, they have all the reasons to sue you for a data breach. They can even use a compensationcalcuator.co.uk to determine how much they should receive for their loss.
Not only that but if your employees need to share documents with each other or outside the group, they may use third-party apps that aren’t safe and don’t use encryption. Better than wrecking your brains and coming up with multiple plans for every contingency, implementing a detailed file security platform can determine ahead of time whether those files can be downloaded or beyond the intended recipient.
Make Strategies for Personal Cell Phones and Other Devices.
Mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets, have become extensions of our hands. A few years back, employees rarely used their phones at the office, but those days are long gone since our smartphone applications are capable of almost everything. Compromising employee devices is the easiest way to gain access to a business network and wreak all kinds of havoc. To avoid a total mess, make sure you include the “BYOD” guidelines in your business cybersecurity policy.
Here’s Some Extra Cybersecurity Policy Template You Should Consider
A proper cybersecurity policy needs to take several specific elements into consideration. While every startup or small business is different, there are some data security practices that are particularly relevant to startups and should be included in every cybersecurity policy.
- Network Security Policies
The right policies at the right place should detail proper server, database, and firewall configurations, as well as how the arrangement of IP addresses and remote access should be managed. It should also specify who has managerial credentials and what process they should follow to make changes in the network.
- Categorize Your Data
Your business data should be categorized according to how it’s used where it’s stored and who has access to it. Smart categorization makes it easier to manage authorization and determine what security measures are necessary for each type of data.
- Scanning for Vulnerabilities
A vulnerable business network can only cause a wide range of problems. Cybercriminals are regularly scanning and studying a database of any weaknesses. A proper cybersecurity policy must outline steps for scheduled vulnerabilities that reassess the state of the network.
- The Response to Incidents
Businesses need to develop a plan for responding to any cybersecurity event. Whenever a data breach takes place, the organization must take immediate action to assess how badly security was compromised, remediate the situation, and then perform analysis to understand how the attacks were completed and how to avoid similar attacks in the future.
- Managing Patches
Security updates and patches are designed to prevent further threats by terminating vulnerabilities and closing gaps. A steady cybersecurity policy should provide a process describing how and when patches should be implemented in the system. When businesses fail to hold their updates and patches current, they expose themselves to common and easily avertable threats.