If you’re in the throes of getting your startup off the ground, or maybe you’re already a few steps down the line, you really can’t ignore the clear and present dangers of hacking. Small startups, entrepreneurs with innovative ideas, and niche businesses are all prime cuts for hackers looking to get their hands on valuable data, ideas and intellectual property.
A staggering 87% of small businesses and 93% of large businesses have reported a cyber breach in just the last year. So many businesses read of the dangers to their data and IT infrastructure from hackers and viruses but are often too late to act. Don’t fall into that trap too.
So, what are the most important actions your startup or business can take in order to make sure you’re in the best possible shape to avoid becoming a hacking victim?
1. Employee Education
Instructing your staff is all well and good but the best thing to do is to really inspire them. If you are charged with managing a staff for your nascent enterprise, however big or small it might be, then the very best thing you can do is show how the welfare of one member of your business directly affects the welfare of them all.
2. Web Access Limitations
A web proxy can stop the danger at the gate by filtering out certain web addresses or domains. Your staff are going to be constantly surfing through various work and personal interest-related domains, and they will be doing this via your servers on smartphones, PCs and tablets. Restricting those at the outset cuts off that threat.
As the Cloud comes to play an ever-increasing role within everyday business life, you need to be clued up on what the remote storage of data and the used of cloud-based applications mean for your business. The segregation of personal and corporate data is not always as precise as it should be, opening up the possibility of data leakage. Be aware.
The old ways are important too. Confidential documentation in its hard copy form, when no longer used, should always be properly shredded to avoid it being picked up by the wrong party. Shredding is an essential part of file management for businesses of all sizes.
Personal computing products such as the iPad, iPhone and all the colours of the Android spectrum have changed the face of the personal computing environment, and that of the workplace. Letting your employees use their own device may be practical but in terms of security you need to make sure you are not compromising that of your company. As ever, due diligence is essential.
6. Third Parties
You need to make sure that, early on in your relationships with any third party suppliers, you clarify that they meet the same strict levels of IT security measures that you are applying. Of course, this especially important when the data you are processing leaves your immediate control.
7. Password Policy
You can have all the high level IT security technology you need but if one of your employees takes a slack approach to password protection, then all that hard work can be undone in an instant. The good news is that good password protection policies will not eat into any budget you need to keep safe.
8. Data Breach Laws
It may not be the most interesting subject in the world but, as a startup manager or entrepreneur your data and how it is managed will be crucial to the success of your business in this digital age. Getting yourself au fait with the legalities of internal and external data breaches will help you manage staff relationships better as well as those of your clients.
9. Upgrades and Security Updates
It sounds pretty basic but the latest version of operating systems, software and desktop packages are always the most secure. This also extends to firewalls, anti-virus and anti-spyware which should be configured to automatically update.
Very much a subject du jour after the Edward Snowden whistle-blowing story, but critical hard drives, data storage devices, folders and files should all be encrypted.
If you would like to try a methodical and systematic check to ascertain where you and your business stands with regard to IT Security, here is a handy 17-step and free-to-access tool which can help you do just that.