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By: Ronda PaynePublished On: March 29, 2022
Anyone who has ever started a business knows just how hard those first few years can be. Whether success comes like a tidal wave, or slowly trickles in, it’s incredibly challenging to pick where to put people, money and other resources.
An entrepreneur or business manager is constantly thinking about what is needed now. Many things get pushed aside for “later, when we need it,” but if a start-up ignores its need for cybersecurity in the early moments of the business, there may not be a later.
A long-spoken piece of advice applies: Ignore at your own peril.
Start-ups are just as vulnerable to cyber attacks (perhaps more so), as any other business. Connecting any system, data, app or other assets to an internet connection creates a potential access point for hackers. Plus, because start-ups are looking to reduce costs and are starting out now (not 10 years ago), the reliance on all things online is that much greater; and hackers know some businesses will forgo spending on cybersecurity.
That being said, hackers may not specifically intend to attack a start-up, they are simply looking for an accessible target. With the growth of automated tools that search for vulnerabilities and access points, it’s just a matter of time.
Despite the fact that every business can be vulnerable, it’s easy for a start-up’s management to say, “we’ll add cybersecurity when we can afford it,” but this is folly. It’s like shutting the gate after the horse gets out or putting a home security system in after being broken into. No one will want to spend the money until it’s too late, therefore cybersecurity needs to be planned and budgeted for at the earliest stages of company establishment.
While budget is often the excuse companies give for skipping cybersecurity practices, the costs of an intrusion would be exponentially higher than the investment.
Start-ups often make use of contract employees to get the business going and cybersecurity is definitely an area where this can make sense. It may be that a contract cybersecurity professional with training and experience behind them creates a cybersecurity plan. Alternatively, some start-ups are ideally positioned for making use of a cybersecurity service provider.
In both these cases, ensuring trustworthiness, experience and a positive reputation is essential in those who are contracted or hired.
If a start-up wants to do some of the work with in-house team members, there are a number of online cybersecurity courses that can provide the knowledge necessary. These types of courses often have tools to help a business identify opportunities hackers can exploit and learn about best practices. A great introduction course would be A+ certification or Fundamentals+ certification.
The reason some companies hire contractors for this identification work is because it can be difficult to think of every single point without having experience in the field. Every laptop, server, website, system, etc. needs to be considered.
Another area often overlooked is the unintentional employee behaviour that opens up cyber attack opportunities. Therefore, cybersecurity needs to not only look at systems but also human behaviour. Employees need training in using secure networks, choosing strong passwords, avoiding clicking on various links and keeping data and information secure. Some courses could include Security+ training and Network+ training.
It’s important to look at all the access points and to understand the kinds of cyber threats that exist, what they do and how to spot them. There is no way to stop a persistent hacker from trying, but with adequate identification and knowledge, it is possible to know how to stop them from gaining access, or respond as quickly as possible to a breach.
When a start-up doesn’t have experience in cybersecurity, bringing in an expert can lead to much greater security. A temporary arrangement can include on-site training of an interested employee, coaching on additional education and advice on ongoing monitoring and management.
The key is to start now. Cyber criminals are looking for companies that lack the proper security. Not anticipating this can be the difference between start-up success and failure.
The information contained in this post is considered true and accurate as of the publication date. However, the accuracy of this information may be impacted by changes in circumstances that occur after the time of publication. Ashton College assumes no liability for any error or omissions in the information contained in this post or any other post in our blog.