Essential Security Tips for Startup Entrepreneurs
Keeping your data secure has never been more important. While some entrepreneurs believe this applies only to large businesses with a huge amount of data, it applies just as equally to startups. In fact, startups often need to have incredibly strong security because they’re seen as an easy target. Hackers and cyber-terrorists may avoid going after the large corporations because they assume those businesses have top-of-the-line network security. Startups, though, often don’t have the funds to invest in security.
You need to make investing in network security a priority, though, especially if you collect information from your customers. Here are some essential security tips that will help you protect your startup.
Identify Your Assets and Risks
The first thing to do is to determine what your startup’s assets are in the area of security. Do you have someone on your team with a background in security? Do you have strong policies in place regarding passwords, data access, and defined roles? All of these and more can be considered your assets. Create a list of them so you have an idea of what you’re working with.
Then create a list of all the risks you’re going to face. This will give you an idea of what you need to protect against. If you don’t understand the risks in network security, especially the risks that apply to your business, you’ll end up creating a generic type of security system that tries to block everything instead of one tailored to your industry that is strong against particular attacks
Learn How Social Networks Can Be Gateways into Your Network
More and more entrepreneurs are making use of social networking sites today than ever before. These sites make it incredibly easy to market your business, and they have very little costs associated with them. However, because they’re so widely used, many hackers have created malware and other tools to attack businesses and individuals through these sites.
It’s vital that you educate your employees in how to avoid social engineering attacks. This involves more than just telling them to use strong passwords. Make sure you and your employees are educated in how to identify potential phishing scams and other attacks through social media and understand how to stop them. You need to have policies in place that outline how employees can use social sites and how potential attacks are to be handled.
Have In-Person Discussions
Many businesses send out an email full of security tips every month, but is this really the most effective way of teaching employees about network security? In most cases, employees delete the email without even reading it. That’s why many companies have started working this information into an in-person meeting rather than an email. This way, you can be certain your employees are exposed to the information.
Have a Backup Plan
If your internet connection, server, laptop, or other device fails, your entire business may come to a halt. It’s important to have a backup plan in this case. You want to make certain that if you lose your server, you’ve got some method of retrieving the data and continuing on with limited operations until the server is back up. Having a plan for the failure of every critical system is important to ensure that your company keeps moving forward. You may even want to bring in an outside consultant to assist with this so you have that outside point of view.
Use Non-Disclosure Agreements
Not all hacks or attacks on startup security come from outside agents trying to break into your network. Your own contractors and third-party firms may attempt to steal and distribute information from your business. One legal way of handling this is to have all contractors sign a non-disclosure agreement. These legally binding documents state that the contractor will not share anything learned from your company over the course of the contract. While this doesn’t prevent the contractor for doing so, it gives you legal standing to sue them and control the damage.
Use a Unified Threat Management System
Make use of a Unified Threat Management system to help protect your IT infrastructure. These systems include things such as a firewall, bandwidth management controls, and more. Some even have your antivirus software built into them. You also want to make sure you install intrusion prevention system (IPS) software. This program will help you quickly identify intruders in your system and block them from gaining access to vital data. It even looks at approved logged in users and tracks any odd behavior to determine if they have been hacked.
Outsource Your Security
It may seem like a good idea to do everything in-house. However, outsourcing your security can actually save you money and result in a stronger security system. By bringing in a consultant who can create your security infrastructure and providing regular monitoring, you’re making certain you have state-of-the-art protection. These consultants focus on nothing but network security. They are going to have the latest in security software and follow the newest security techniques.
Your own team, on the other hand, is always going to have to be following the latest in tech news. However, you may have other projects for them to work on, so they may not always be able to focus on your security needs. Consultants can, plus you might find that it’s actually more affordable to hire them than it is to pay salary and benefits for a team of your own.
Consider Cloud Computing
Many businesses and startups are now using the cloud to store programs and data. There are a number of benefits to this, including being able to access your information from anywhere and using license-based software that’s ran from the cloud instead of from the individual computers. This means you only pay for the licenses you need active, not the actual software. If an employee leaves, you simply cancel that person’s license and save that money until you hire someone new.
However, you do have to be careful that all of your information is encrypted and that all of your logins are secure. You’ll want to have policies in place for logging in from public wifi and other unsecure locations so that your data isn’t stolen from the cloud.