Why Cybersecurity is so important even for the Early Startups?

Cybersecurity, data privacy, and regulatory compliance are the words that we think everybody heard before but still not all founders understand what is it exactly and why they should think about it from the start.

Today’s consumer has become more aware and focused on personal data protection and privacy and has less confidence that enterprise platforms and startups can actually be trusted. We face this all over, working with the startup founders and existing projects so wanted to look through this deeper.

Let’s start at the very beginning.

What Is Cybersecurity anyway?

The main value online nowadays is – data, it’s easy to use in all kinds of ways. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, the damage related to cybercrime is projected to hit $6 trillion annually by 2021 and it’s all about the data. To protect the users from the fraud there is Cybersecurity – the practice of securing networks, systems, and any other digital infrastructure from malicious attacks.

And in order for the clients to trust the platforms – banks, tech companies, hospitals, government agencies, and just about every other sector are investing in cybersecurity infrastructure to protect their business. Even the smallest bit of personal data in the wrong hands can lead to real damage. From simple blackmailing, burglary after getting info when the owners will be on vacation to the bigger crimes.

So every platform should make sure to protect all client data. A strong security infrastructure includes multiple layers of protection dispersed throughout a company’s computers, programs, and networks and all should work synchronized.   

A bit of reasoning why Cybersecurity matters for all businesses

There is a common misbelief that if your business is small you have no reason to worry as there are big-ticket targets. However, due to the Ponemon Institute research – nearly 60 percent of small-to-medium-size businesses experience network breaches.

It shows that startup companies are especially vulnerable to malicious attacks in their first year and a half of operation. You’re a potential target if you use and store any kind of user data.

Many startups don’t have a budget even for a dedicated IT department. Nevertheless, they must make security a priority from the very beginning and plan everything out. When it comes to cybersecurity, people are the weakest link. Using phishing attacks anyone can trick trustworthy employees into revealing sensitive information and access the company networks. A good solution also would be training employees to identify these patterns and prevent the attacks, making it harder for scammers to gain access to your company’s info.

As we mentioned before data is very valuable and can benefit the scammers in different ways. With data breaches, cybercriminals target company and steal sensitive customer information, and if they can’t find the use for it –  just resell on the black market. So from the very start, it’s essential to control all the data, think through the system on the architectural stage with the dev. team maybe even have a consultation with experts.

Types of Cyber Attacks

To protect the system and the customers it’s fundamental to understand the types of attacks. Now they come in all shapes and sizes. Some may be activated months after the actual data is stolen. So we will review some of the basic types of cyberattacks to see the patterns.

Phishing

Phishing is one of the most common attacks, as it’s the practice of sending malicious communications, with various social media, email. To get one is not that hard usually emails designed to appear from reputable, well-known sources. These emails use the same names, logos, company names in order to get users to click on the harmful links. Once a phishing link is clicked, cybercriminals have access to sensitive data like credit cards, social security, or login information.

Social Engineering

Social engineering is quite a harder process of psychologically manipulating people into sharing personal information. Some of these attacks can last a long time while trying to get your personal info. Phishing is a form of social engineering, where criminals take advantage of people’s trust, curiosity. A more advanced example of social engineering – voice manipulation. In this case, cybercriminals take an individual’s voice (from sources like a voicemail or social media post) and manipulate it to call friends or relatives and ask for personal information.

Man-in-the-Middle Attack

(MitM) attacks occur when criminals insert themselves between a two-party transaction. For example, between a public Wi-Fi and an individual’s device. Without a protected connection, cybercriminals can sometimes view all of a victim’s information without ever being noticed. 

Malware

Malware is used to describe malicious software, including viruses, spyware, ransomware. It usually breaches networks through a vulnerability, after installing unchecked application/program online, clicking on suspicious email links. Once inside a network, this program can obtain sensitive information, further produce more harmful software throughout the system, and can even block access to vital business network components.   

Zero-day attack

Zero-day attacks are becoming more-and-more common. Essentially, these attacks occur between a network vulnerability announcement and a patch solution. In the name of transparency and security, most companies will announce that they found a problem with their network safety, but some criminals will take this opportunity to unleash attacks before the company can come up with a security patch.

When your startup needs Cybersecurity?

You definitely need to think through the options if your startup:

— Has the user log-in system and personal profile

— Uses database and stores data

— Leverage cloud-based resources like IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)

— Processes payment transactions

— Has customers who operate in highly regulated industries (i.e., Critical Infrastructure, Insurance, etc.)

— Has operations in geographies with consumer protection laws or regulations (GDPR, CCPA)

If something from the above is about you, then security, privacy, and compliance need consideration early and often.

Why it’s better to start Early

Marketing – Security and compliance are good selling points in the current state of the world, and your customers will expect it.

Limit Security Debt – Cybersecurity, data privacy, and regulatory compliance design decisions early on cost a lot less than down the road as your company begins to scale as customers, and requirements get larger.

Stand out – Do what others will not. Security, data privacy, and regulatory compliance in your industry can make you stand out and create a competitive barrier to entry into your market.

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Coming back to the reasoning there are clear points in which the startup will win if strong system security. In the long run, it will help to win consumer trust, it means a lot, as startups are considered riskier by the average consumer.

High standards will attract enterprise customers which expect mature data protection, and data privacy practices other early startups can struggle to meet these standards.

So working on it from the start is a strong investment and will definitely benefit the startup in the long run.