If you are a startup owner, your priority is probably the growth of your company. You are dealing with long working hours, payroll and many hassles that are a part of building your own business. Most likely, cyber security is not on top of your mind unless something happens that makes you realize how important it is to protect your sensitive business information right from the start.
I’ve asked Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN, a VPN service provider, to give us his insight.
According to security firm ThreatMetrix, cybercrime attacks went up by 50% in all segments in the 2nd quarter of 2016, which is a worrisome trend. Startups are considered to be an especially easy prey for hackers: in 2014, 85% of all data breaches were directed at small businesses and startups.
Besides targeted cybercrime, startups suffer from malware, rogue software, unprotected Wi-Fi and much more.
For example, a hacker could mimic a banking site that you are visiting through an unprotected Wi-Fi entry point and steal all your credit card information. Or your employee can open an email attachment that is infected with a virus and spread across your network. In phishing attacks, you or your employees can get a fake email tricking you into revealing your personal information. In password attacks, a hacker will try to hack your system by trying to guess password combinations that you use.
While the types of attacks on your system could be many, we have selected some common sense solutions that every startup owner should know.
1. Use only https URL. Make sure all websites that you give your data to have the secure https URL. The “s” in the URL means that it is a secure protocol, and your data is encrypted properly.
2. Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). VPNs connect you to the Internet through an encrypted tunnel. VPN server acts as a relay between the Internet and a company¹s private network, so nobody can see what data is being shared over the Internet. All that can be seen that you are connected to a VPN server. A VPN service provider, such as NordVPN, can offer multiple benefits to small businesses, including secure data connections between remote workers and the power to create a remote working environment without being scared of data breaches.
3. Avoid downloading files from unknown senders. The rule is simple: if you are not familiar with the sender, better don¹t click to download any attachments or any links they might send.
4. Update your firewall. Most systems have an automatically installed firewall, just make sure you follow up with its regular updates.
5. Use anti-virus. Use an updated virus protection to make sure your system is protected from malware such as malvertising (advertisement online with malicious codes).
6. Strong passwords. Perhaps the most basic requirement for any online account setup is using strong passwords. Weak passwords make it simple for hackers to break into your system and cause severe damage.
7. Update your Operating System. It sounds simple and easy to do, but it happens that we ignore the pop-up reminders for software updates. However, it¹s one of the most important things to do with a computer, as the updates fix security vulnerabilities and system bugs.
8. Secure your mobile. If you are happy that your system is now secure, you might be forgetting one important part – your mobile devices. You probably store important passwords on your smartphone and other sensitive information, therefore, don¹t forget to encrypt your phone either.