Cyberattacks against Small Businesses are on the Rise – Here’s How to Protect Your Start Up
The internet has done plenty to democratize marketplaces. By making it more viable for start-up entrepreneurs to market their products to a broader audience, the internet is lowering barriers to entry, thus creating more opportunities for foraging start-ups. It’s never been easier to start a business and drive it to success. But the internet also creates a new challenge for businesses – cybersecurity.
Start-ups and small businesses are often perceived as safe from cyberattacks. But the truth is that most start-ups are inadequately protected — if at all — and make for appealing targets for cybercriminals. For example, the average cost of a cyberattack in 2020 was $3.86 million, and cyberattacks cost smaller businesses more — relative to their size. This is a significant sum of money that can make or break a young start-up.
A cyberattack can bring a large enterprise to its knees or wipe a small start-up entirely out of business. Read on to learn about all the different cyber risks that start-ups face and the steps you can take to mitigate these threats.
Different Types of Cyber Risks Facing Start-Ups
Start-up entrepreneurs must understand the importance of cybersecurity for their businesses and learn how to protect themselves. The first step is to familiarize yourself with the various threats facing your business. Here are some of the most common cybersecurity threats facing start-ups in 2021.
In a phishing incident, attackers often masquerade as trusted entities to trick their victims into divulging sensitive information, such as passwords and social security numbers. Cybercriminals also use phishing emails to trick users into opening infected files or malicious links, inadvertently downloading malware onto their devices.
Ransomware is a growing threat, with targets ranging from start-ups to large enterprises. Data from the Verizon 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report shows that 27 percent of malware attacks in 2020 involved ransomware. Ransomware is commonly delivered via phishing campaigns.
Theft of sensitive company data through targeted data breaches is another common threat facing start-ups. Any cybersecurity incident where confidential or protected information is exposed can be described as a data breach. A data breach may involve the loss or theft of passwords, email, or credit card information.
Ways to Secure Your Start-Up
Start-up entrepreneurs tend to defer cybersecurity investment as a corporate indulgence that can take a back seat. But that’s a mistake. Start-ups have a lot to protect, including customer information, reputation, brand, and intellectual property. Here are essential cybersecurity measures and best practices to implement to increase protection against start-up cyber risks.
One of the most important steps you can take to secure your start-up is to conduct a cyber-risk analysis. The plan here is not to develop a strategy to eliminate all risks but rather to identify, quantify, and prioritize the risks and vulnerabilities in your system. Then, use this information to make intelligent security decisions and formulate a plan to mitigate these threats with minimal distraction to operations.
Install Antivirus Solution
Endpoint security is imperative to mount a strong defense against malware. Having a strong endpoint security solution, such as antivirus, can help you detect and thwart ransomware attacks. You can install antimalware on most endpoint devices, including computers and mobile devices, to block ransomware and other types of malware from infecting your systems.
Protect Your Network with a VPN
An antivirus solution is great for detecting malware, but what about all the other online threats, such as DDoS and MITM attacks that start-ups face? This is where a Virtual Private Network(VPN) comes in handy.
A VPN hides your IP address and encrypts your web traffic, creating a secure tunnel between your devices and an outside network. Since DDoS attacks can’t locate your network, they can’t target you. Your traffic is also encrypted, which means that attackers can’t intercept your data. You can protect all the devices in your office network with a simple VPN download.
The lack of awareness is one of the biggest threats to the security of your start-up. Training can help teach people within your start-up about the cyber threats they face online. Training will help your employees learn about the most common cybersecurity threats in the present. A security awareness training program should also cover the best security practices to follow if they encounter any threats.
Backup Your Data
Ransomware can be devastating, which is why you need to take every precaution to avoid an attack. Having a reliable backup regimen is one of the most effective ways to prevent a ransomware attack. It also helps to have more than one backup, back up your data in multiple places such as the cloud, local disks, and your main storage area. With several backups in place, you can mitigate data loss and regain system functionality in no time.
Keep Your Software Up To Date
Many cyberattacks try to exploit vulnerabilities within your apps and third-party plugins. Update your apps regularly to prevent attackers from penetrating your network through security holes in your installed applications. Applying the latest security updates to all your software, including the operating systems, apps, and third-party plugins, will help close security holes that ransomware authors are looking to exploit.
Contrary to popular belief, start-ups are also vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. The best time to start protecting your start-up is at the very beginning, not after you start making enormous profits. It’s not that complicated to implement basic security measures, nor should it be prohibitively expensive. Rather than shelving security altogether, start with only what’s specific to your line of work and scale up your cybersecurity efforts as your start-up grows.