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How to handle cybersecurity at a rapid-growth start-up

Written by  Simon Baker Feb 28, 2018
Startups are exciting because everything is new, fun and flexible. Without the burden of layers of bureaucracy, startups are free to innovate and adapt, making quick changes when necessary.

At times, though, it’s hard for newly established businesses to keep up with the pace of change and growth. Sometimes staffing limitations make it challenging to dedicate the proper resources to a project, while other times there are budget constraints.

Whatever the limitations may be cybersecurity cannot be ignored these days, even in the early stages. It's reasonable to assume that a new company isn’t much of a target for hackers, but think again. They know small and fast-growing companies are ideal targets because they’re far less likely to have strong security measures in place.

Putting strong cybersecurity tools and policies in place early on is like buying an insurance policy. It doesn’t guarantee you won’t experience a data breach, but it can greatly lesson the damage if and when one does occur. Here are some straightforward tips for keeping your startup secure and protecting your business.


Plan a budget

Strong cybersecurity does come at a cost. It doesn’t have to cost the earth, but you should budget and plan for it. Protect your networks, including wireless networks, from external attacks by using firewalls, proxies and access lists. Install anti-virus software on all systems to guard against attacks.

Also, consider hiring an outside consultant or managed service provider (MSP) to assess your security defences and highlight any weaknesses in your set up. Many professionals are accustomed to working with small businesses on limited budgets. Keep in mind that preventing a data breach is far less expensive than mitigating the damage after one occurs. Many small businesses never bounce back from a major breach.

Also see: Rise of UK ID Theft & Account Take Over Fraud

Allocate the role

You’re probably not in a position to hire a chief security officer, but that doesn’t mean cybersecurity responsibility should be an afterthought. If no one in the company is in charge of cybersecurity, important tasks and issues can be missed.

Put someone in the company in charge of cybersecurity awareness, education and implementation, this may mean the CEO or a competent technical person from another department. Task this person with staying on top of cybersecurity trends, ensuring that all the proper software and anti-virus updates are made, enforcing strong password policies, and being the point of contact for any outside security consultants.


Monitor your employees

Most of the media attention around data breaches focuses on external attacks, or hackers. But a data breach is much more likely to originate from within your own company, whether it’s intentional or by mistake.

Employee activity monitoring software helps you detect and prevent employee actions that are risky such as emailing or printing sensitive data. You can set up specific rules and alerts so that you’re notified when risky behaviour occurs. Employee monitoring software also has the added benefit of allowing you to keep tabs on employee productivity, and it’s affordable even on a small budget.

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