Why Cyber Security Matters to Startups and Small Businesses?

In today’s world, no industry, sector or country is quarantined against a cyber-attack. Be it a technology giant or a small business, every company has vulnerabilities that could be easily exploited by the hackers. The main reason behind a firm getting hacked is the vulnerability which is the indifference shown to cyber security by the company management.

Start-ups like Ola, and Zomato would not have been hacked in the first place. The hacker who gained unauthorized access into Ola network was surprised to see so many vulnerabilities. He could easily watch, trace and connect all API calls. To prove, he exploited this flaw and recharged his Ola account for free.

There is a natural tendency of complacency shown towards cyber security. Small business and start-ups do not consider security as a priority which is a dangerous trend.

As per the Internet Security Threat Report 2016, published by Symantec, 43% of the spear phishing attacks were targeted against small businesses. Studies show that over 65 percent of small businesses are succumbing to cyber-attacks in fact; small businesses are more vulnerable to cyber-attacks since they depend on cheap protection platforms, outdated software and also unknowledgeable & untrained staff for their comprehensive cyber security needs.

Hackers are highly attracted by the information that the startups possess. Many firms have cached data of their customers’ credit and debit cards and hackers can attempt a financial fraud. Some cyber criminals exploit the technology infrastructure of these startups to enter the networks of huge enterprises as many startups provide some ancillary services to corporations.

Best practices to augment cyber security

Here are a handful of cyber security strategies and tips that virtually any business should consider for better security.

  • It is important to implement a vigorous internal security policy to protect information and also educate the employees on best cyber security practices. Create a written cyber security policy, whether formal or informal, and make sure your employees have read and understood it (according to a 2011 Symantec/NCSA Small Business Cyber security Survey, fewer than half of small businesses had any type of plan or policy).
  • The organization must implement a strong cyber security culture like strong passwords, regulations to use the internet, not logging into company servers through unprotected networks, not using personal smartphones for official work, not installing risky third party applications & software, being able to distinguish phishing emails and handling customer data as per established guidelines
  • Train your employees to change default passwords, change their passwords periodically and use “strong” password, and don’t allow them to download software from unknown sources or open suspicious emails.
  • Antivirus software and other software installed must be regularly updated and the employees must not be allowed to install or uninstall software without permissions.
  • Use the most current versions of web browsers and operating systems, which will have the most up-to-date defenses against malware, viruses, etc.
  • Install a firewall in place to protect your internal network.
  • Over and above, backing up the company data regularly and establishing a threat intelligence platform are highly useful measures that businesses must take for their proactive cyber security measures. This won’t automatically prevent data from being compromised, but it does ensure you never lose your access to it.
  • Don’t broadcast the wifi network name over your routers, and require passwords to get into the network.

Work on the above tips on creating a company-specific strategy that will enable your business to operate without the threat of an attack.

Conclusion: Cyber security measures will lead to enhanced protection against cyber-attacks and also will help increase customer trust, company’s credibility and brand image in the market. On the other hand, any negligence in this regard on part of small businesses and startups will increase their vulnerability to cybercrimes and see the brand image collapse with the erosion of credibility and customer trust.

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