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Why Does Cybersecurity Matter to Startups and Small Businesses?

Why Does Cybersecurity Matter to Startups and Small Businesses?

In this age of digitalization, no company, industry, or country is safe from cyberattacks. Every organization has vulnerabilities that hackers may exploit. And knowing that startups and small businesses revolve around evolution, which needs constant change to adapt to the ever-changing technological world, you have to consider that this agility also creates possibilities for new risks. By that, we mean cybersecurity threats.

Unfortunately, startups and small businesses often believe they don’t need a cybersecurity program because they are too tiny for scams and attacks. What they don’t know about that mindset is it only exposes them to a broader scope of threats.

In this article, we’ll explore more about the significance of cybersecurity and provide some security tips for startups and small businesses. So, if you own a small firm or are just starting your company, read on and learn about why cybersecurity matters to your business.

Cybersecurity Threats

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The Importance of Cybersecurity

By definition, cybersecurity secures your data, which includes everything from sensitive intellectual property to the personal information of your clients and workers. Without it, you’re making your business vulnerable to threat actors who could endanger your company’s confidential information and reputation. However, if this isn’t enough reason for you to invest in cybersecurity programs, here are a few more:

1. Startups and small businesses are usually seen as easy targets.

Startups and small businesses make an easy target for threat actors because of numerous reasons:
• Shortage of budget for a thorough and updated security defense system
• Limited security awareness among employees
• Lack of risk management policy and procedure and lack of risk awareness, in general
• Failure to secure endpoints
Since startups and small companies tend to keep their focus on marketing and growing the business, they often overlook the importance of security. And that just gives hackers more advantage to quickly getting access to the company’s data. In fact, according to Verizon’s 2019 data breach investigation report, 43% of all data breaches targeted small businesses.

2. You hold invaluable information.

You have to understand that even the smallest businesses or the newest startups still hold sensitive information like your employees’ and customers’ personal or financial details. And that information is what the hackers are interested in. With that in mind, having a security defense system is vital to protect confidential information.

3. Non-compliance can be expensive.

For doing business in new markets, there are usually independent compliance requirements that you need to follow. Failure to do so, in this case, data breach, only gets you to spend more than the amount you’ll pay for solid cybersecurity measures. If you think about it, investing in cybersecurity is way better than paying for data breach costs (non-compliance), operational costs, and reputational costs. That being said, always make sure to allot a budget to security and comply with data security regulations.

4. An established cybersecurity program gives you a competitive edge.

If you adhere to safe security practices, chances are you attract clients and business partners to work with you. Knowing that you have a robust security system as a startup business, they will be confident to put their money and trust in you.

And aside from business partners, you also help retain your employees to take every step with you in growing the brand. It’s already difficult to hire people, so don’t make it even more challenging to retain them because of security risks.

5. A cyber-attack can put an end to your business.

If you have a startup company, be aware that even the slightest glitch could cause your corporate growth an end. You must, therefore, weigh the risks to thrive and expand.

A breach during the early stages of your organization could seriously put all your hard work to an end. It is typical for hackers to take down vital network infrastructure and websites after a data breach using DDoS assaults and other techniques. Fixing that requires a lot of money to risk with no assurance of regaining access and control of your data and IT systems.

As a small business, there’s a huge possibility that you won’t only lose a lot of money and reputation in this situation but will also find it hard to recover. In the worst-case scenario, the business will only resort to having a total shutdown.

Privacy & Cybersecurity for Small Businesses

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How To Mitigate Cybersecurity Risks

Now that we have learned about the significance of cybersecurity in startups and small businesses let’s discuss how to mitigate the risks. Even though developing and maintaining a cybersecurity program may seem challenging and frightening, there are fundamental steps you can follow to get started. Here are some:

• Establishing a comprehensive cybersecurity framework based on zero-trust principles
• Investing money in training employees about security management
• Updating software and operating systems when new patches are released
• Ensuring that firewalls and antivirus programs are up to date and providing adequate protection for all devices
• Using identity management to monitor and limit access to sensitive data
Using a strong password and updating it regularly
• Implementing access management tools, such as single sign-on (SSO) and multi-factor authentication (MFA)
• Data encryption and regular data backup

The Bottom Line

In this digital age, inadequate security measures affect everything for every business, small or startup. With that in mind, we can say cybersecurity matters—as it is no longer an option to take but a necessity. So, to protect customer data and intellectual property and grow as a business, start investing in strong cybersecurity programs.

This article was written by Katie Pierce


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4 Most Common Types of Cyber Security Threats

4 Most Common Types of Cyber Security Threats

There’s every indication that the pandemic is changing the nature of cyber security. Online threats are evolving to match our new remote-work paradigm, with 91% of businesses reporting an increase in cyberattacks during the coronavirus outbreak.

Hackers are getting more and more sophisticated and targeted in their attacks. Many of these cyber threats have been around for a while, but they are becoming harder for the average user to detect. Beware of these four common types of cyber threats – and learn what you can do to prevent them.

Advanced phishing attacks

Phishing takes place when a hacker tricks an individual into handing over information or exposing sensitive data using a link (with hidden malware) or a false email. These types of security threats are quite common, but in recent months they are becoming even more advanced.

Microsoft’s recent survey of business leaders in four countries found that phishing threats are currently the biggest risk to security. Since March, 90% of those polled said that phishing attacks have impacted their organization, and 28% admitted that attackers had successfully phished their users. Recently, phishing emails have targeted enterprises to capture personal data and financial information using one of the following tactics:

  • Posing as a provider of information about COVID-19 vaccines, PPE, and other health and sanitation supplies
  • Creating false “portals” for business owners to apply for government assistance and stimulus funds during the economic shutdown
  • Using download links for platforms and tools that help remote teams communicate, such as video conferencing
  • Posing as “critical update” downloads for enterprise collaboration solutions, such as Microsoft OneDrive, and social media applications
  • Targeting IT service providers that ask for payment in order to provide tech support.

Phishing is so effective because it can be very hard to recognize and target individual people, rather than IT vulnerabilities. Yet, they are still ways to lower your risk of phishing.

How to prevent phishing: The best chance to prevent phishing attacks is to educate your teams on what to look for in a phishing message. Poor spelling and grammar, as well as an email address that doesn’t match the user, are telling signs of a phishing message. If an offer seems too good to be true, it is a good sign you’re being scammed.  In addition to user education, you can add multi-factor authentication and other interventions to stop phishing messages from getting through. “Spam filters with sandboxing and DNS filtering are also essential security layers because they keep malicious emails from entering the network, and protect the user if they fall for the phishing attempt and end up clicking on a malicious hyperlink,” said one security expert told ZDNet.

Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of security threat that encrypts a victim’s files so they can’t access their information. The hacker then asks for a ransom – usually payment – to restore access and decrypt the user’s data.

Perhaps the most notorious recent example of a ransomware attack is that of Garmin. In July, Garmin – a navigation and fitness wearables company – was hit by a ransomware attack that downed service for virtually every Garmin customer.  “Hackers deployed the ransomware tool WastedLocker, which encrypts key data on a company’s digital infrastructure,” reported Cyber Security Hub. “In the case of Garmin, website functions, customer support, and user applications were all affected. Unlike typical ransomware software, WastedLocker does not steal identifying information and holds it for ransom. Instead, it renders programs useless until decrypted.” Garmin reportedly paid $10 million for the decryption key to resume services after four days of outages.

Garmin isn’t alone, however. There’s been a seven-fold increase in ransomware attacks this year targeting companies of all sizes. So, what can your organization do to protect itself?

How to prevent ransomware: First and foremost, it’s important to make sure your security protocols are kept airtight – and apply security patches as quickly as possible to prevent hackers from exploiting vulnerabilities. A tool like Nightfall can make it easier to maintain a strong defense, with AI monitoring your network for any issues. Multi-factor authentication can also prevent hackers from getting too far into your system. And, you should regularly back up your system so if a cyber ransomware attack does happen, you’ll be able to recover some data.

Password-based cyber attacks

password-based cyberattack is one that targets users who have the same password for multiple sites. Research from the World Economic Forum found that 4 out of 5 global data breaches are caused by weak/stolen passwords.

There are several different ways a hacker can infiltrate your system using a password-based cyberattack. The most common method is known as a brute force attack. This attack uses a computer program to try to log in to a user’s account by trying all possible password combinations, starting with the most common and easiest to guess options – for instance, “1234” or “abcde”.  Sensitive data like passwords, credentials and secrets are in constant danger of exposure, especially as more companies conduct the majority of their business in the cloud. The highly collaborative and always-on nature of cloud services makes it hard to enforce good password practices. Therefore, organizations need data loss prevention (DLP) to secure essential data from being exposed.

How to prevent a password-based attack: make it easy for users and security teams alike to circumvent the risk of password attacks by implementing password-free authentication methods. This is a type of authentication that requires a user to confirm their identity during the login process through a separate channel. This extra step can also protect your workspace in case there’s any account compromised or if a device gets stolen.

IoT and smart medical devices 

The internet of things makes life a lot easier – and also more open to bad actors. Connected devices are an increasingly popular target for cyber threats. In 2019, cyber-attacks on IoT devices increased by 300%, according to one report. This includes attacks on everything from laptops and webcams to smart homes (like Google Nest), smartwatches, routers, and other home appliances.

Our personal devices aren’t the only things that are vulnerable. The Software Engineering Institute of Carnegie Mellon University reported, “As more devices are connected to hospital and clinic networks, patient data and information will be increasingly vulnerable. Even more concerning is the risk of remote compromise of a device directly connected to a patient. An attacker could theoretically increase or decrease dosages, send electrical signals to a patient or disable vital sign monitoring.” Healthcare providers must also contend with protecting patient data. As many healthcare providers shift to remote work, they become an attractive target for hackers. Protected health information (PHI) must be kept safe during all cloud-based activities – yet many SaaS providers, including Slack, are not HIPAA-compliant right out of the box.

How to prevent IoT attacks: IoT attacks are sophisticated, and the best ways to protect your devices are to use strong passwords and keep your software up to date. Experts also suggest keeping your devices unlinked from social media.  Along with protecting your devices, look for a DLP partner who can protect your patient data while working on SaaS and IaaS platforms. Check out our coverage of instituting and maintaining HIPAA compliance on Slack and schedule a meeting below to learn more about how tools like Nightfall DLP play a role in keeping PHI safe.


The original article was published at nightfall.ia

Featured Image Credits: Pixabay