By: Time George, Chairman, Atech Support
Startups face an uphill road to success. Between securing new clients and establishing their brand’s image, refining processes and forming a solid staff, new businesses have many challenges to face. Often overlooked, however, are IT security services.
Half of UK businesses experienced some form of a cyberattack in 2019-2020, and 64% of cybersecurity experts are concerned about data loss and leakage, among a range of other vectors. Attacks are increasing in frequency and sophistication. As nearly every business today uses technology to some extent, everyone is exposed. As a startup, what level of security do you need to ensure your clients’ data and your business is safe?
Four IT security services for startups to consider
You might think that cybersecurity is a bigger concern for bigger businesses. However, consider what risks you face as a startup if you suffer a cyberattack. You may lose your clients’ trust, experience downtime resolving the issue, and have to pay for expensive fixes. Any funding you have secured may be withdrawn if your investors do not trust that you are taking appropriate measures to protect your IP and your data. On this note, cyber insurance alone will not help your business, if you are found to have been negligent in your security posture.
An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, so here are some of the IT security services you should look for when you start your business.
In order to build your cyber defenses, you need someone to carefully evaluate your current situation. We check over 50 points for vulnerabilities, ranging from your users’ passwords to hardware settings and blocking legacy authentication. Using industry-standard metrics like Microsoft’s Secure Score, we can easily determine how you fare against industry standards, and what the priority steps are in hardening your security posture.
It’s also important to get a feel for how tech-savvy your users are, and if they know the best practices to prevent attacks in the first place. We know that email is the main point of entry. Later, when we implement training, it will be focused and target the specific vulnerabilities we’ve identified.
Once the weak points in your startup IT security have been identified, it’s time to start closing those holes by implementing some basic control mechanisms. One of the first things that we do is ensure that all of your data is using end-to-end encryption.
Encryption ensures that if someone intercepts your data as it is being transmitted, they still won’t be able to read it. This kind of interception commonly happens over Wi-Fi, especially when public, open networks are available. It’s perfectly fine to have an open Wi-Fi network for your customers to use, but your other business actions should take place on a separate network using encryption.
But there are some cases where encryption can’t protect you, which is why we also focus on one of the most common danger zones: email.
65% of attacker groups used phishing to invade their victims’ networks. Phishing is the act of using email to lure people into providing sensitive information. For example, someone might make an email that resembles an official Microsoft account asking for your Office 365 login information. Once they have it, they can see the files in your cloud storage and pilfer your data.
However, phishing can be prevented by securing your email servers through your web host. In addition, we implement protocols such as Domain-based message authentication, report & conformance (DMARC); Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM); and Sender Policy Framework (SPF) standards. These security standards will help to identify phishing attacks and alert users before they even open the email.
Advanced software can determine who in your organisation has access to data and what data they can access. It also can connect with cloud services such as Microsoft 365 to limit an individual’s access to sensitive information.
For startups, this will actually make growth easier as you’ll be able to add users more easily and prevent new employees from seeing too much. User access control ensures that the right individuals have access to the right data, even in in a remote-first world. Data governance and a robust secure posture need never get in the way of productivity and innovation.
We also strengthen the validation of user logins by setting up two-factor authentication wherever possible. This requires your users to input a second code that they receive on their phone or other device, ensuring that your computers aren’t being accessed by an imposter from far away.
As you scale up and migrate from one platform to another, there are options around legacy access controls which again will ensure security without disrupting business as usual, and no need to re-enter sensitive data or start from scratch.
Although films love to portray hackers as master code writers sitting in front of a dozen monitors as they crack into a company’s servers, the reality is often much less exciting. The most common entry point, by far, is an unsuspecting user. Your biggest vulnerability is your employees, who might not have any malicious intent at all.
Atech’s videos and quizzes help to educate workers on cybersecurity and make sure they know what they should and shouldn’t do. Learning how to identify phishing emails as one of the most common threat vectors will strengthen the weakest link in the chain. As a startup, you absolutely want to be sure your new employees understand basic cybersecurity concepts.
Early detection and prevention
You’ve shored up your defenses and trained your employees: now it’s time to see if they can handle a threat. One of the most important IT security services for startups is a simulated phishing attack, which will put your employees to the test.
Beyond that, we also look to prevent problems by monitoring parts of the dark web for activity related to your accounts. Stolen passwords are bundled into large databases and distributed around the dark web to facilitate hacking. We can see if yours are on the list and alert you in advance.
Harden your IT security posture now
Ensuring good cybersecurity from the start is essential for the success of your startup. We work with a range of startups and scale ups and know the challenges – and the opportunities – you’re presented with. To find out more about how to protect your business and your customers, just contact us. We look forward to speaking with you to determine exactly what your business needs to be safe from the always-evolving threats online.