A business cannot function without its data, devices, and computers. That said, protecting these assets is imperative to business continuity, reputation, and ultimately, success.
Cybersecurity and network security are the two essential protective measures against elements that can harm these critical assets, which usually come in the form of cybercriminals. For this reason, a startup like you quite literally cannot afford to make these mistakes when it comes to cybersecurity:
1. Underestimating the value of their information
Startups and small businesses often make the mistake of thinking that cybercriminals won’t target them because of their seemingly insignificant size. However, this small size is exactly what makes startups a viable target for hackers; they assume that a small organization does not have enough security measures to protect itself—and unfortunately, this is often true.
Cybercriminals aim for a business’s confidential information, including financial accounts, local networks, and clients’ financial data, among other data that can be beneficial to them. It makes sense for them to target startups that can barely protect themselves, as opposed to going for the bigger companies who—more or less—have made their network nearly impenetrable.
With all that said, the biggest mistake that you can make as a startup is to underestimate your perceived value to cybercriminals. Always assume that you can be a target—this way, cyber threats hold more gravity and thus are treated with more importance.
2. Using low-cost or free anti-virus software
When you rely on cheap or free anti-virus software, you will likely get what you pay for (or what you don’t pay for). Making this mistake is similar to using low-quality padlocks on your establishment’s doors and expecting it to keep all the criminals away. A low-cost or free anti-virus software provides only a limited amount of protection for your assets, meaning it may very well cost you more than what you would have otherwise spent on good-quality software.
Hence, it is safer and more cost-effective to invest in good anti-virus software from the get-go. It may add a significant amount of cost to your budget—something that a startup will tend to struggle with—but it can help save you thousands of dollars in the long run, if not more.
3. Not investing in cybersecurity software
Any form of data loss can result in a substantial financial loss for your business, not to mention that it can significantly affect your business’ reputation. In a way, investing in cybersecurity software for your startup is like having insurance that can shield you from the brunt of data breach disasters.
However, not all cybersecurity programs are made equal, which is why you have to spend more than enough time finding the right one. In any case, it should be versatile, lightweight, cost-effective, and offer dedicated support, especially when you need it the most.
4. Failing to manage devices
Even with the right cybersecurity software in place, you cannot optimize your startup’s data security without paying attention to the hardware. If employees use personal devices for business purposes or take company devices out of the building regularly, you have a bigger risk of losing data if someone gets their device stolen or accidentally loses it.
If that device falls into the wrong hands, a cybercriminal can easily hack into the network, access accounts, and steal as much information as they can. To avoid this risk, you must heighten restrictions on personal device use while in the office, especially if your startup handles sensitive client information. Furthermore, company devices taken out of the office must be equipped with strong passwords, tracking tags, and software that can delete all of the data therein once they are reported lost.
5. Ignoring the need for dedicated IT personnel
Startups often don’t have the luxury of hiring a lot of IT professionals. In many cases, only one or two people in the IT department are doing all the work. With manpower stretched too thinly, it is very likely that not enough attention is being given to cybersecurity, and you already know what this can lead to.
That said, consider hiring at least one person dedicated to your company’s cybersecurity. They will be the ones to handle all cybersecurity concerns, taking the weight off of your existing IT personnel and increasing the effectiveness of your security measures at the same time.
Startups are especially vulnerable to cyberattacks because they are seen as easy targets. To protect your startup against all sorts of cybercriminal activity, always be proactive in avoiding these mistakes.