When you’re in the process of launching a start-up, security is usually at the bottom of the checklist, if not a completely non existent concern. Most entrepreneurs tend to think that small businesses are safer than big companies as they’re less likely to be on the hacking radar, but the 2016 Internet Security Threat Report by Symantec revealed that 43 percent of all phishing attacks were targeted at small businesses in 2015, which is nearly a 10 percent rise from the figures in 2014. In reality, small businesses tend to be an easier target because, unlike big corporations they have fewer security measures in place and lack the resources to effectively manage and maintain security measures. Here’s how to optimise your start-up’s security without the stress or vast expense:
Do your research
If you’re too busy spend time swatting up on cyber security, at the very least get to know the ways in which your business is vulnerable as this could depend on the industry you’re working in. Even a small amount of knowledge will mean that you’ll be better placed to advise your employees and develop a strategy to ensure that sensitive information is securely handled. This could be as simple as programming desktop accounts to automatically set a new password every month or creating a confidentiality agreement for your employees and freelancers to sign before they begin working with you. There are a number of free resources, such as the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Federal Communications Commission, that supply useful tips on security best practises.
Outsource security management
Entrepreneurs are always short for time, and whilst security concerns might seem like another stressful responsibility to add to your ever growing to-do list, it doesn’t have to be if you outsource. Of course, outsourcing comes with it’s own security dangers which means you have to be especially careful about who you hire for the job – often virtual service companies are safer than an individual freelancer (unless they’ve been recommended), as professional companies will have their own security measures in place and usually offer support for clients in case something does go wrong – but done carefully, it can save you a lot of time, stress and money.
Whilst security management for a small business is unlikely to fill enough hours for a full time job, the administration that comes with buying anti-virus software, renewing subscriptions, setting up third-party monitoring, integrating security applications and updating passwords is time consuming. Plus if there is a security breach, such as your blog being hacked, you will need someone to deal with the issue immediately, removing the corrupted posts, updating the site’s security etc. You could hire a cyber security expert, but usually, that will cost a premium and it’s probably not necessary for basic day to day security measures. Instead consider outsourcing the management to a virtual assistant, who can seamlessly integrate security into your work practises. More than saving you time and money, it will give you valuable peace of mind that will allow you to focus on growing your business.
Use security optimising apps
Mike Schroll, the VP of business development for PC Pitstop, a creator of security and performance software, is a former hacker who now dedicates his time to helping businesses become more aware of cyber threats. In an article by Peter Gasca on entrepreneur.com, Schroll advises that passwords need to be changed often, use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols, and should be different for every account. Whilst keeping track of multiple passwords might seem overwhelming, especially since you shouldn’t be writing them down (an obvious security threat), consider using an application to do the hard work for you.
At my business AVirtual, we use LastPass to store banking information, logins and passwords electronically. It identifies weak, old or duplicate passwords and generators new passwords automatically that help to prevent you from getting hacked. 1Password is another useful application for storing passwords, and it can be integrated into your web browser so that you can login to online accounts with one click. Again it saves you time and hassle.
Security shouldn’t be the task that you deal with last. Implement basic measures right from the start and it will become a habitual way of working that will serve to protect your business from potentially losing valuable information.