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Cybersecurity Essentials for Startups in 2021

By: Annie Button


B2B Small Businesses Need to Take Cybersecurity

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused problems for businesses in every industry – but unfortunately, it has also coincided with a boom period for cybercrime. Actually, the two events are related: cybercriminals have been using Covid-19 as a focus for phishing and other social engineering tactics. 

Additionally, more businesses than ever are opening up through the pandemic, as many individuals look to broaden their income opportunities. This means that there is a large number of startups and SMEs going online, potentially without the understanding of the kind of cybersecurity measures they need to have in place in order to stay secure. 

Cybersecurity is now vital for any business that has a website, or even any kind of computer system (and that really does account for virtually every modern business). So, here we take a look at some of the cybersecurity essentials that every startup needs to invest in over the course of 2021. 

Put the basics in place

It was once the case that all a business needed to be secure online was a strong company firewall and antivirus software. Those days are long gone and these are no longer enough in isolation. However, they shouldn’t be considered obsolete: they still have a role to play in cybersecurity.

As such it is important to ensure you have strong basic software like a trusted antivirus solution and a firewall. This is a relatively cheap and easy thing to do, and it can deal with a large number of issues. Before implementing, take a complete inventory of your digital assets and vulnerabilities; visit https://intel471.com/solutions/attack-surface-discovery for information. 

Stay up-to-date

It is also important to understand how vital it is to keep every aspect of your system up-to-date. It might seem tedious to have to constantly update computers, website plugins and more, but doing so is actually a crucial part in keeping hackers out.

A key aspect of updates is to fix known issues that have been exploited in the past by cybercriminals. Whoever is in charge of your IT infrastructure needs to take the lead on making sure that all aspects of your system are updated as soon as possible. 

Passwords and MFA

Setting strong passwords is a true essential when it comes to cybersecurity. Many people still don’t really understand what is meant by a strong password, but it should certainly be a minimum of eight characters (the more, the better) and be a mixture of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. 

But it should also be stated that a strong password shouldn’t be considered a silver bullet. It can be better to look into multi-factor authentication (MFA). This relies on more than one factor when someone attempts to log in. For example, you might be sent a text message with a specific code to allow entry. 

Training for staff

It is important to recognise that members of staff are an important part of cyber defences for any business. SMEs and startups need to put training sessions in place to provide members of their team with details on how to stay safe, and what they must avoid.

Even those who consider themselves completely safe should be given the training. The techniques of criminals advance and evolve constantly. 

Regularly testing your system

When you have put your cybersecurity measures in place, provided your team with training and ensured that you are doing the best you can with the resources you have available, it’s time to understand where your vulnerabilities lie. Unfortunately, it is the case that many startups believe they have strong security measures in place and assume that means they cannot be hacked.

Instead, you need to remember that cybercriminals’ techniques and tactics change all the time, as do the vulnerabilities that they exploit. You should invest in penetration testing – a cybersecurity measures to find those vulnerabilities and exploits before criminals do. 

According to cybersecurity specialists Redscan, penetration testing utilises the tools, techniques and procedures used by genuine criminal hackers. Common blackhat methods include phishing, SQL injection, brute force and deployment of custom malware. These are tested against your system to understand if any of them work – and then provides information on how to fix them so that they couldn’t be used in future by a genuine criminal hack. 

Final thoughts

With more companies taking their business online and new startups rising from the pandemic, there are likely to be many small business websites that could be vulnerable to cybercrime. Make sure you are taking these essential steps to ensure that you are as well-defended as possible in the event of an attack. 

Published: July 23, 2021

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Annie Button

Annie Button is a Portsmouth based writer and recent English Literature graduate. Annie has written for various online and print publications and specializes in business and career development. Follow @anniebutton1994 on Twitter.

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