Why Startups Must Pay Attention to Cybersecurity
According to a 2011 Startup Genome report, over 90% of startups fail.
Today’s entrepreneurs may be equipped with better resources and a more industrious mindset, but the figures haven’t changed much over the last decade. Modern-day startups continue to fail due to market problems, poor business models, and bad management teams.
A certain percentage falls victim to cybercriminals as well.
With cybercrime being on the constant rise, startups can no longer afford to take a wait-and-see approach. A single data breach can cost you thousands of customers if your company has that many at all. Whatever you've accomplished, it can all be destroyed with one attack.
Here’s why you must pay attention to cybersecurity, and how.
Cybercriminals Don’t Care That You’re Small
Every person connected to the internet is a possible victim of cybercrime.
In business, size doesn’t make any difference. Most people presume that cybercriminals target big, powerful, and wealthy corporations only, but they are actually difficult targets. Attacking an ambitious startup or a small business is less risky and much, much easier.
In fact, 55% of SMEs experience some kind of cyber attack.
Connectivity Makes the Best of Us Exposed
You don’t have to run a smart office with IoT equipment to be vulnerable to attacks. Even though the Internet of Things makes things a lot less difficult for hackers, a shared office network with a couple of computers is an easy target, too. Sometimes, a single device is enough.
As a startup, you are certainly using multiple online-based tools for your everyday operations. Every account, just as well as every connected device, is a potential point of entry. You’re especially vulnerable if you’re storing digital customer info and other sensitive data.
New Attacks Happen Every Single Day
Data breaches kill around 60% of hacked startups within the first six months.
Unfortunately, data breaches are not the only form of cyber attacks that startups and other SMEs are exposed to. They are the most common, that’s true. Data is a valuable asset and can be sold for a lot of money on the black market. But other threats are just as dangerous:
- Ransomware and malware attacks can cost you up to $4,000.
- DDoS attacks are much more expensive – $100,000 per hour.
Employees Are Often the Weakest Link
Even though these attacks are all external threats, IT security experts are very concerned about BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy in most startups. It’s precisely this lack of access control that exposes entire networks (and thousands of customers with that) to malicious hackers.
In addition to having multiple unprotected devices sharing a single network, startups often face a general lack of knowledge, skills, and awareness about cybersecurity. A lot of employees fall for phishing schemes, for instance, thus leaking sensitive passwords and data.
Other (Possibly Unexpected) Benefits of Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity can help you grow, regardless of your business model.
Having your systems protected shows that you take your business seriously and that you respect your customers’ data. The more effective your cybersecurity measures are, the higher your company’s value is. And building this infrastructure is much less expensive than fixing loss later on.
Different Cybersecurity Tactics You Can Use
While a huge corporation would likely survive falling victim to cybercriminals, a cyber attack is usually the beginning of the end of a small business. But unlike huge corporations, small businesses have less to protect. This makes security a smaller investment, both financially and operationally.
Here are some of the tactics you can start employing:
- Educate your employees through proper cybersecurity training.
- Start managing (and limiting) access to your accounts and systems.
- Invest in a security-as-a-service while your needs are still SME-grade.
- Alternatively, employ an in-house team and start building protocols.
- Use basic cybersecurity tools like firewalls and encryption software.
- Keep your traffic anonymous with a VPN (Virtual Private Network).
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’re too small and insignificant to be targeted by criminals online. Have some faith in your growth and start building for the future now. The sooner you invest in cybersecurity, the higher the chances of you surviving tomorrow. Stay safe and good luck.
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