A startup is a busy place with a lot of moving parts from staffing to advertising to product development and everything in between. While most of your attention may be on acquiring customers and making a profit, you should really keep an eye on your online assets such as email, website, social media channels and blogs. If your startup’s web properties aren’t secure, hackers can easily plunder and destroy the startup that took years of hard work to build.
Cyber security may sound like another, boring item to put on your already busy startup to-do list, but it is important if you want your startup to thrive. If your startup gets hacked, you could lose sensitive and confidential information, like those to bank accounts, and you will lose the hard-earned trust of customers, which results in lost revenue and reputation.
What are some steps you can take to keep hackers from destroying your startup? Here are some simple things to do just that (and you don’t have to be a techie to do them):
- Start With The Basics
The first thing you can do to protect your startup from hackers is to purchase anti-virus and anti-malware software and install them on every computer. Most companies have deals when you buy and install their product on multiple computers. Don’t be stingy and opt for free products. You get what you pay for and free versions can still leave your startup vulnerable.
- Have Strong Passwords and Change Them Often
Strong passwords are long and contain letters (both lower and upper case), numbers and symbols. The same password shouldn’t be used for multiple accounts. It is recommended to change your passwords every six months. Every employee should have their own passwords for their business accounts.
- Don’t Make Everyone an Admin
No matter how egalitarian your startup is, not everyone needs to have equal access to the company’s online properties. When sensitive information is kept within a smaller group of people, it is easier to keep the information safe and not accidently leak out.
- Have a Password Distribution System
Just like not everyone needs to know the login to your company’s website or social media channels, not everyone should know all the passwords to all the startup’s digital properties. Establish a chain of command whereby permission to access sensitive information is granted. If an employee needs access to information he or she isn’t allowed to, have him or her first call their supervisor for permission to access the passwords or information. This way you’ll know who the information was given to and why.
- Be Sure to Thoroughly Destroy Old Data and Tech Equipment
Sooner or later, you’ll need to dispose of old, unnecessary data. “Wiping” the USB stick, cell phone, external hard drive or any other company used electronic device clean of everything doesn’t mean all the data is gone. It’s best to take your old electronics to a company specializing in data destruction is the surest option.
- Create and Enforce Security Policies
Let every employee should be educated about the importance of data security. Policies should be established and enforced. One option is to prohibit employees from accessing company information and web properties from their personal devices. Another option is to have your data security regularly audited by an outside agency. Making sure every employee’s device are updated consistently.
- Enforce Two-Step Password Authentication
Establishing a second-level authentication to access important, sensitive company information is a strong way to thwart hackers. With two-step authentication, not only is a password required, but another form of identification, such as a thumbprint, number code, text message or use of a smart card is also required.
- Use Encryption for Sensitive Information
Using encryption for sharing important or sensitive information is essential in keeping it safe from hackers. Even if you have two-step authentication passwords the encryption can protect your information in the case that something goes wrong.
Most operating systems come with full-disk encryption. Be sure everyone in the company uses it. Nothing is worse than when a company phone is lost or an employee leaves his laptop unattended in a busy coffee shop and your company’s data is vulnerable. Encryption makes it difficult for someone to walk off with an external hard drive of USB stick and extract the data.
- Beware of Public Wi-Fi
If your startup is like most, you and your fellow employees do a fair amount of work off-site, away from the office. When you’re working from your favorite coffee shop, beware of “free Wi-Fi.” Hackers have been known to set up fake, yet legit-looking hotspots, to access data on the victim’s computer. The two-step password authentication and encryption will help prevent hackers from accessing your information this way. The best way around this risk is to connect to the coffee shop’s Wi-Fi.
Your startup’s web properties are essential to the functioning of your business. You can’t afford to slack off when it comes to data security. Hackers are getting smarter so additional security steps need to be taken to keep data safe. An important part of your company’s web presence that hackers love to try and steal is your domain name. At Domain Market, our blog is full of tips, ideas and information about domain names, websites, social media channels and other digital factors a startup needs to consider to be successful.