Cybersecurity cannot be ignored. Businesses, both large and small, are vulnerable to hacks that can cost the company money and goodwill. If they’re lucky, all the hackers will get is information on an upcoming product. If they’re not so lucky, customer information could be compromised, damaging their brand. Sony can survive a few leaks; small businesses and startup cannot.
Startups and small businesses have enough on their plates without having to also contend with cybersecurity, but it remains an important issue. Online security must be among your earliest priorities to make sure it can evolve and grow with the business as your systems develop. Here are a few security elements that must be part of your plan.
1. Use Password Managers
One of the simplest ways to open yourself up to a leak is to use weak passwords. Many websites require a combination of symbols, letters, and numbers, before accepting a password. Your startup should have the same demands. Unfortunately, human error does exist and people will forget their passwords, especially if you require a 25-character minimum.
Depending on the level of security you want, you can cycle through passwords daily to minimize potential hacks. You’ll want a program that protects all the passwords with a master password, and only give access to the most trusted employees. While this does centralize the possibility of loss in that hackers only need one password to get everything, it also helps isolate the source of the breach. The more people who know any single password, the greater the odds that someone will slip and enable a hack.
2. Manage Access Rights From the Beginning
Not everyone needs to know everything, and not everyone needs access to every piece of information. Salesmen will often have no business minding the accounting side of the company, so they don’t need to know the passwords to those files. Assign services to employees according to their needs, and then give them individualized passwords. It’s far safer than sharing one password across the entire company and can help pinpoint leaks should they occur.
This is important, as no matter how successful your small business becomes, you’re going to face turnover. You shouldn’t have to change all the passwords because someone left the company and they no longer should be in the know. Access management makes sure that you can control what information is available to people at any given time.
3. Utilize Full-Disk Encryption for All Company Hardware
People will lose things, whether they want to or not. Phones get lost and bags with laptops get stolen, and company-related information could be lost with them. Utilizing full-disk encryption can at least keep business information safe, even if the hardware can’t be recovered.
This is important, as any access to your intellectual property or even company emails can put everything you’ve worked for at risk. You should also require backups for all important documents, such as plans and any intellectual property, and require passwords to unlock from sleep mode or screensavers.
4. Use Two Levels of Authentication
While having two levels of authentication doesn’t mean you’re twice as protected, it does increase the effort required to breach your security. The first form of authentication is often a password, while the second level involves a changing numerical code, a card, text messages with a code, or even a biometric scan for more technologically advanced businesses.
Many email services have two levels of authentication that should be used whenever sensitive information is exchanged. A password and a related device can prevent a catastrophic password leak and give you valuable time to react and bolster your defense.
5. Use Phones for Verbal Confirmation
People won’t always have access to information they need, even in a small business. When employees ask for sensitive information from you or other members, make it standard practice to confirm that request with a call. It doesn’t matter if the request comes from their personal messaging account or phone. Addresses can be spoofed, phones can be stolen, passwords broken. A voice call or other form of verbal or personal confirmation will often prevent phishing.
Just like dental hygiene, it can sometimes feel like cybersecurity measures are pointless, especially if you’re running a small business. Then the cavities start, and you wish you had brushed after every meal; good cybersecurity is like that. You don’t think it’s working when it is, and when it fails, you feel as though your world’s crumbling. Install virus scanners and employ best practices if you want to keep your company safe.