Do you think you’re safe from cybersecurity threats just because you’re an emerging company? Think hackers wouldn’t be interested in you because you’re not a multi-million-dollar company with thousands of clients, whose information can be stolen? Too many startups make this mistake and end up paying dearly for it. According to a recent Ponemon Institute study, 55% of the small to medium-sized businesses surveyed have experienced a cyber attack in the past year, and over half have been hit by a data breach. These attacks added up to an average of nearly $2 million in damages. Do these numbers scare you? Well, they should. If you don’t properly protect against cybersecurity threats, your startup development can quickly get derailed.
Types of Cybersecurity Threats
There are three major types of cybersecurity threats that can easily drain your startup business resources if you don’t properly guard against them.
Ransomware and malware
Ransomware has quickly risen to the top of the threat list in the past couple of years. A specific type of malicious software (or malware) that infects computers and mobile devices, ransomware encrypts files so that you cannot access them. The attackers then demand a ransom—usually in the realm of $500-$1000—in exchange for your files. If you are hit by a ransomware attack, you can not only lose crucial information, but also hours of productivity. Even if you do get the files back, you have no idea if the private information has been shared with others or contaminated.
How large of a part does your website and server play in your efforts to grow your startup? If you’re like most new businesses, they are crucial to your everyday business practices. That’s why distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are so damaging. A DDoS attack overwhelms your network and makes it inaccessible to both you and your customers. Growth hacking experts estimate that DDoS can cost companies up to $20,000 per hour of downtime.
Most startups have hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces of private data in their systems, ranging from customer credit card numbers to dates of birth and social security numbers. When a hacker gains access to your database, he or she can steal this information and sell it on the black market. Data breaches have an enormous effect on customer trust and new business consultants have seen hundreds of startups shut their doors due to a breach.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Startup
Educate your team
Basic cybersecurity education should be at the core of your startup growth strategy. Though your people are your greatest strengths, they can also be your greatest weakness—especially when it comes to cybersecurity. Most security breaches are caused by employees who click on the wrong links, hook-up unsecured devices to your network or fail to put the appropriate security measures in place. Conduct regular training with your team to help them identify and prevent threats before they turn into attacks.
Establish a VPN
According to startup experts, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a good idea for companies that need a secure connection to conduct business. A VPN uses a public network to connect remote sites through a private connection that can then be encrypted to provide an extra layer of security. This restricts unauthorized access and allows business to be conducted securely.
Install the right security at the outset
Cybersecurity is a must when it comes to your startup’s budget and planning. There are numerous effective anti-malware and security software options you can install to protect your business. You can also look into Security-as-a-Service programs that give you access to cybersecurity professionals without hefty upfront costs. Whatever option you choose, keep in mind the old adage that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ To put it in other words, whatever you spend will be worth it in the end.
Sixty percent of emerging businesses that are hit with cyber attacks are out of business within six months. Don’t let your startup become a statistic. If you’d like to discuss more ways to protect your company against today’s threat landscape, please schedule a time with one of our experts for additional startup help.