Cyber Security is an often forgotten, but crucial, part of the initial stages of a startup. You may be wondering, what’s a cyber attack and (more importantly) what can I do to prevent it?
How to Improve Cybersecurity at Your Startup
While disaster plans and cyber insurance can help mitigate a disaster that occurs, a business is better off by avoiding a cybersecurity event in the first place.
The National Cyber Security Centre has some excellent tips that can apply to a business at any stage – from training all staff on how to take care of any devices (whether office-bound (PC’s) or portable (mobiles, laptops) to setting up proper device configurations and monitoring suspicious network activity.
While these tips don’t guarantee perfect cybersecurity, they’re an ideal first step on the road to data and network protection.
Some of the tips might require you to bring in an IT/security specialist – knowing how to manage and monitor internal networks for suspicious activity can be complicated, and if you’re not an IT specialist, may even be impossible to do to a sufficient level.
Some, however, like managing user access/privileges can be implemented almost immediately, so if an attack does occur as a result of an error from a lower-ranking member of staff the amount of valuable data a hacker could get can be minimized.
If your business could be sued or otherwise penalized as a result of a data breach, then you’ll want to consider what you would do if a cyberattack was successful. For example, if you store your customer’s personal information (e.g., address, contact details) in your computer systems.
Cyber insurance can help take care of what comes ‘after’ a data breach, from paying to bringing in a cybersecurity specialist through to any compensation you’re required to pay as a result of the breach.
Similarly, if you do have a quality network administrator and have started to implement your cybersecurity policy, make sure to regularly test it and apply patches network-wide as soon as possible.
Part of this will require training your staff effectively too. They must understand why patches are so important, so they’re never tempted to delay or postpone important updates. Patches and updates can be applied overnight or before or after hours to minimize business impact too.
What is a cybersecurity event?
A cybersecurity event occurs when an IT system or network discovers a breach of your company/system security policy and/or an attempted (whether successful or unsuccessful) access to your systems from an unauthorized source, as per the Computer Misuse Act (1990).
Several different activities can be considered a cybersecurity event, from an unauthorized storage system being used for processing or storing data to a hacker trying to gain access to your internal networks.
Cybersecurity events are your business’s responsibility, and they don’t always come from outside sources – allowing staff to take home customer’s private data on an unprotected laptop or USB falls into the criteria for a cybersecurity event.
When an event is discovered, it must be taken care of with urgency. In some cases, your existing cybersecurity strategy may have helped to repel some elements of the incident, but in others, you may have been fully breached.
Work out which stage of the attack/incident you’re at, and begin implementing your business’s best practice.
If you are the victim of an ongoing cybersecurity event, City of London police recommend calling 101 immediately. If you have been the victim of an attack/incident that is no longer ongoing, you should call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040
What is cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity refers to how you and your business reduce the chances of a successful cyber attack.
It’ll help protect both networks and devices, from your customer data stored on a cloud network through to your employees’ mobiles and laptops. You may also see it referred to as Information Technology (IT) Security.
What is a cybersecurity incident response plan?
A cybersecurity incident response plan (sometimes referred to as an IR plan) is a strategy and set of instructions to help businesses prepare, discover, react and recover from a cybersecurity event.
It should be an ever-evolving guideline for how your business deals with cybersecurity events. From when to get legal and HR involved, to determining the size of the breach, and even the continual monitoring of your systems afterward.
It’s important to regularly review and update as your business grows and evolves, as an outdated plan may not account for new risks you’ve been exposed to.
How to hire cybersecurity experts
Hiring cybersecurity experts doesn’t need to be a complicated process. There are a wide variety of consultancies, companies, and individual specialists who can support you at any point in your cybersecurity timeline, from defining your incident response plan through to recovering from a breach that has already happened.
Finding quality experts can be achieved through two avenues. Firstly, check reviews online to see which other businesses have been supported by this set of cybersecurity experts.
Look especially for any similar-sized businesses, competitors, or those occupying a similar market/industry to yours.
Secondly, while being in business is highly competitive and challenging at times, it can also be a world of great collaboration and joint success.
Don’t be afraid to ask other local companies how they’ve put together their cybersecurity strategy, and if they’ve ever hired any experts/specialists in the past – if they’ve done a good job for a similar business in the past, there’s a good chance they could be of value to you too.