IT startups have long been known for their hard work and devotion to the craft, and no matter if you are looking to provide a streamlined solution to an issue or solving issues in industry, startups are the life and blood of the IT world. However, these companies are not immune to cyber threats, and today’s IT startups have started to look at how to better institute cyber security best practices for their offices and employees. We have entered a new realm of possibilities, and with blockchain and quantum at the forefront of the tech world, today’s hackers and cyber attacks have been empowered by the very technology we are trying to better protect ourselves with. This is why it is so important for startups, and especially those within the IT realm to invest in cyber security planning and network protections from day one. To showcase this, we will touch on the importance of cyber security for startups in the first section of this article, and then will move on the various stages of identifying cyber security risks, and preventing cyber attacks that IT startups should go through during their initial setup!
The Importance of Cyber Security for IT Startups
When launching a startup, there are so many things to do. Whether you are looking at how to get the next round of investment secured, or starting new verticals, cyber security is often one of those things that you plan to get around to but never do.
Cyber security is one of those things that every IT startup should make its priority and here are the reasons why:
1 – keeps your business running
2 – ensures your client’s data is secure
3 – allows you to be prepared for a data breach
Keeps Your Business Running
As a startup, your number one goal is to be profitable. No matter if you are selling a software solution or a niche product, as a startup the ability to convert leads and make sales is essential to your very survival. This is why cyber security is an important thing to consider when setting up your IT startup. With a proper cyber security setup, your company will be able to utilise a cyber security expert to go through vulnerability assessments and prepare your network for cyber attacks before they happen. The results are a more robust system that can handle highly coordinated cyber attacks, and most importantly, able to keep your sales up and running. A cyber incident is not something you want to deal with as an IT startup, and when you are simply looking to keep your business running, cyber security is a crucial metric to keep track of throughout the quarter.
Keeps Your Client’s Data Safe
If you are working in the IT sphere, chances are you working with other people’s data. This could be banking information or contact information, but the data you use is private, and your company is entrusted to keep it that way. This presents an issue for many IT startups, as without a proper cyber security setup, their ability to guarantee safekeeping is worthless. This is what cyber security is all about, and as an IT startup, your investment in this space will be worth its weight in gold. Although in-house teams can be useful, working with outside cyber experts is a great way to ensure that you are getting the best. Let the experts work with you, and you can relay back to your investors and partners that you have their data safe and secure.
Finally, the cyber landscape is one that is often changing, and the bad guys of the world seem to always be on the cutting edge of changes to networks and find a way in. This is not a good thing, but with the proper procedures and plans, a cyber breach is not the end of the world for an IT startup that has brought in extra help to plan accordingly. From dealing with a simple breach of the network to something a more sinister, a proper cyber security setup will not only lay out how to isolate and deal with the various breaches, but how to patch and move forward to limit the effect it has on your company and brand going forward. Cyber attacks are a threat, and an IT company that has been able to plan and prepare for the worst is set up for success in the future.
As you can see, cyber security is a vital part of any startups business plan, and especially for those companies who are operating within the IT sphere. However, you might be asking, well how do you start focusing on cyber security? In the second half of this article we are going to look at the five stages of identifying cyber security risks, and how each stage helps you strengthen your defences for a cyber attack.
Stage 1: Identify and Document Vulnerabilities
When you are looking at where to begin identifying cyber security threats, the first step is to look at what might make your business attractive to those who want to take you down. For most companies, your company’s data bank with customer information will be the most significant commodity at risk, but for others, it could be your IP or software. This is where your vulnerabilities lie, and where you can start your vulnerability assessment.
This assessment will start looking at some decently basic questions. Let’s use the previous example of customer information as the vulnerability. You could start with answering questions like what type of information you are collecting, who has access to it, and how do you store it? These questions will help showcase how you are currently protecting your data and allow you to know where your weak links are in your local network, whether it be a computer, a laptop or other tools of the trade.
These holes or weak links could be patched with simple training for all of your employees, or by ensuring your employees are aware of cyber safety rules when connected to your network. Simply put, if you can identify and document vulnerabilities, you will be on your way to step two of identifying cyber security risks.
Stage 2: Identify and Document Threats
The second stage for any vulnerability assessment is to identify and document the variable threats to your environment. As an IT company, you and your team will need to familiarise yourself with the various types of cybercrime and how your company can be susceptible to these attacks. This means you will need to learn about the techniques of the bad guys, the tactics that their software and the producers that they use to target certain types of sites or companies. However, one thing to note is that although threats are generally coming from the outside, inside threats are just as significant. A thorough and sound check both inside your network and outside is necessary. No matter if you are dealing with a risk of a hacker from the outside or an employee that forgets that he is connected to the network, the threat to you and your network is always a possibility. Once you finish identifying and documenting the threats, you are ready to move to step three.
Stage 3: Assess your Vulnerabilities
Stage three is the testing stage, and looks to assess the vulnerabilities within a companies cyber network. There are some great tools that can help guide your company during this stage, but the most important aspect to remember is you need to test your network. When testing utilise a variety of attack methods, and make sure to test even the simplest methods such as emailing a member of your team from an unknown email with a link. Think of it as the way that door manufacturers test different lock picking methods on their deadlocks, your system needs to be tested and strained, and only then, will you be able to see where your network is vulnerable. Once you assess your vulnerabilities, you will be able to move towards stage four of identifying your cyber security risks!
Stage 4: Identify Potential Business Impacts
Stage four is a step that many IT startups forget to do, and that is not a good thing. Identifying potential business impacts is more than just looking at effects or consequences that a cyber attack could have on the day of the attack. The company should be looking at the impact that an attack could have on company’s reputation, operations and finances going forward.
The longstanding IT companies have a business continuity or resiliency plan that will help guide your company through times of trouble, including cyber attacks. However, for those companies who are just starting in the IT space, it can be a tough task. This is why turning to a specialist might be the perfect option for IT startups. Cyber security specialists have the experience and expertise to not only showcase the different types of cyber security threats that could affect your business but also help you build a plan to handle these threats. Whether it is through questionnaires or interviews with your team, cyber security specialists will be able to work with your leadership to identify potential business cyber security threats and build a plan to ensure your IT startup is prepared for anything that comes your way.
Stage 5: Identify and Prioritize Risk Responses
Finally, as your company starts to understand the impact that a cyber attack could have on its business, you can begin to identify and prioritise the risk responses that your IT startup will need to utilize. This might include making changes to your current security system or looking at some other options that will work with your company.
One thing to consider is that the most significant liability to your company’s IT security is, in fact, a member of your staff. When looking at risk responses, your IT startup will need to ensure that standard operating procedures and best practices are well documented in policies, and of course, that your company focuses on educating your staff on these policies and how to implement them in their everyday work.
No matter if you are an IT startup with one or two employees, or a medium enterprise with seventy employees, cyber security is a matter of significant importance for all. From dealing with simple computer security to looking at vulnerability assessments, there is always something your IT startup could be doing. So, what should you do? Well, the first thing you need to do is contact a cyber security expert.
Here at Cytelligence, we have been working with companies just like yours for years successfully managing their cyber security needs . From completing your vulnerability assessments to building your risk responses, our cyber security experts will ensure your IT startup is set up for success. Call our team today, and see how you can secure your startups future.