Did you know experts project the cost of cybercrime to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025? That's nothing to sneeze at. Why is this number so high? It's largely because many organizations lack the proper security measures and incident response plans. Small startups tend to be sitting ducks for cybercriminals, considering they're still getting settled and learning the ropes of their industry.
Whether you're a brand-new startup company or one of the big guys, Cybersecurity is non-negotiable. Every business should have it, regardless of size or scale. If you want to learn why, keep reading!
Why in the World Does a Startup Need Cybersecurity?
As a startup leader, you may already have had your ear talked off about implementing a Cybersecurity program. If you haven't, get ready to hear from your IT department. Here are a few reasons Cybersecurity is such a big deal.
1. Startups Are More Vulnerable to Cyberattacks
Small startups are a frequent target for cyberattacks, as many lack the resources to implement advanced security measures. Newer companies with less funding than their long-established counterparts are on the receiving end of 43% of cyberattacks. And unfortunately, 60% of small companies shut down within six months of a cyberattack.
Because they're smaller players, many startups operate under the fallacy that they're too small to need a holistic Cybersecurity program. Without proper measures, they're more susceptible to cyber threats and data breaches. It doesn't matter if you've been in business for two months or a decade — every organization should have robust cyber safety measures.
2. Cybersecurity Builds Trust With Your Customers
Clients value full transparency from the companies they choose to do business with. Customers will be more likely to do business with you if they know you're proactive about cyber safety and data protection. Many investors and clients will check to ensure your company's services are secure — especially when financial transactions and other confidential information are at stake.
The harsh reality is that it only takes one breach to throw a wrench in your brand's reputation. And the stats prove this, as 55% of customers in the United States would be unlikely to continue a partnership with a breached company.
Even customers unaffected by the incident could view your brand as unsafe or unreliable and go in another direction. This loss could mean bankruptcy for a small startup that's still building its client base.
Credibility and trust are vital, as customers often rely on recommendations from others. When you prove your commitment to Cybersecurity, more people will trust you with their most critical data. They're also more likely to put in a good word for you! Another benefit of Cybersecurity is that it can give you a competitive advantage in any industry.
Think of cyberattacks like a giant onion with various layers. We could spend all day talking about Cybersecurity threats, but in the interest of time, we'll only cover the ones at the tip of the iceberg.
A phishing attack is a misleading email, text or social media message persuading users to take a hacker's desired action — such as clicking a malicious link, transferring funds or providing personal information.
Essentially, your response allows attackers to breach data, hack an account or snag a few bucks. You'd be surprised how often phishing attempts happen. Over 80% of businesses have reported phishing attempts targeting their employees, and 36% of security breaches start with a phishing attack.
To prevent phishing attacks, you must train your employees to identify and report these sneaky attempts. If they receive a message that seems suspicious — but also looks like it could be legit — they should forward it to the IT department for verification. When your company's secure information is on the line, leave nothing to chance!
Malware — short for “malicious software” — can damage, slow down or gain unauthorized access to a computer. A cyber attacker might use malware to smuggle passwords or company funds. To further complicate things, multiple types of malware can infect unsuspecting networks.
- Spyware: A cyber attacker can use spyware to enter your computer network, collect information and forward it to a third party without your consent. Spyware makes you more susceptible to private data misuse and breaches. It can also slow down your device and network performance.
- Ransomware: Ransomware limits or prevents users from accessing their system by infecting their network and encrypting data. Essentially, the attacker demands you pay an online ransom to regain access to your system. (Talk about giving you a run for your money!) You might be shocked at the number of hackers trying to pocket some cash. In 2022, businesses around the world detected 493.33 million ransomware attacks.
3. Distributed Denial of Service Attacks
A DDoS attack renders a machine or network unavailable by clogging it up with excessive traffic from different sources and locations. It slows down website response times, preventing access during the attack. (We all know slow sites can be a pain — even when there's not a cybercriminal involved.)
Cyber attackers create large networks of infected computers — or “botnets” — by planting malware. In some cases, a DDoS attack might not be the primary cybercrime. The criminal could use it as a distraction while attempting other types of cyber intrusion and fraud.
It should come as no surprise that DDoS attacks are quickly rising. One study showed almost 70% of surveyed businesses faced 20 to 50 DDoS attacks monthly.
4. Supply Chain Attacks
By the name alone, you can tell this one is a doozy. A supply chain attack targets a trusted third-party vendor that provides vital software or services to your company, using it to gain access to a business’ online application.
When performing a software supply chain attack, the attacker injects a malicious code into the application to infect all its users. A hardware supply chain attack targets physical components for the same purpose — obtaining access to the company’s trading partners. Supply chain attacks put tremendous stress on a business-vendor relationship.
A cyberattack can affect a company in different ways. It can cause anything from surface-level annoyances to long-term setbacks that could take years to recover from.
A cyberattack can cause the following issues and others for your network:
- File changes, replacements, additions or deletions
- Irregular database activity (changes in permissions, unusual data content growth, user changes, etc.)
- Abnormal account activity (access sharing, modified audit trails, etc.)
- Slow network performance
- Strange antivirus notifications
- Excessive popups
- Unauthorized toolbars
Meanwhile, here are some longer-term consequences of a cyberattack.
- Financial and Data Losses: Cyber fraud often results in monetary losses for businesses. In 2022, the global average data breach cost a whopping $4.35 million. This total could easily reach $5 million in 2023. The stolen data obtainable on the dark web can be far more valuable to hackers than company funds.
- Fines: As if the financial losses from theft weren't bad enough, organizations that don’t comply with data protection legislation can face monetary penalties. Privacy and data protection laws require businesses to secure all personal data they hold, whether it’s for their staff or clients. Regardless of whether this data is subject to a deliberate or accidental leak, failing to take the appropriate security measures can land you some hefty fines and regulatory sanctions.
- Reputation Hit: We briefly discussed it earlier, but a security breach can make customers think twice about partnering with your business. They could have well-founded concerns about your company's security measures and their private data falling into the wrong hands.
We know it's stressful, but with Cybersecurity measures in place, you can relax and focus on the day-to-day nitty-gritty of growing your startup.
How to Improve Your Cybersecurity
We've spent the last several minutes discussing security threats and consequences. At this point, we hope you can see the value of Cybersecurity for a startup (or any business size, for that matter). Now, you may wonder how to beef up your business' Cybersecurity protocols. The tips below are a fantastic starting point for improving your startup security.
1. Back up Your Data
Cybercriminals often target confidential business information. If you aren't already backing up all essential files, now is the time to start. There are many ways to back up your data, such as offline storage, in the Cloud or on an external hard drive. Here are some sensitive files you should regularly back up.
- Personnel records like job applications, employment taxes, benefit plans, payroll records, incident reports and profit-sharing plans
- Business administration data like marketing plans, sales information, project reports, licenses, contracts, patents and trademarks, leases, insurance policies and stockholder records
- Property and tax records like real estate deeds, lease payments, car ownership, audits and federal and state returns
- Accounting records like expense invoices and receipts, inventory, financial statements, purchase orders, loan payment schedules, sales and revenue records and depreciation schedules
- Disaster recovery and emergency plans
In a nutshell, you should back up anything you wouldn't want an outsider to see or get their hands on. We know it's a lot — but trust us, you'll be glad you put in the effort!
2. Use Firewalls and Antivirus Software
The beauty of a firewall is that it blocks unauthorized users from accessing your system, including mail services, websites and other sources. It’s an essential security layer against external threats like malware attacks and hackers.
Some firewalls come with antivirus software, but if yours didn’t, we highly recommend installing malware protection. Antivirus software checks your network for malware that skulked its way through the firewall, then kicks that sucker out! Pretty convenient, huh?
3. Choose Strong, Complex Passwords
Let’s be real — nobody enjoys the nonstop merry-go-round of changing and remembering passwords. However, we’re here to remind you that it’s still one of the easiest and best security practices. Plus, you can always use a password manager to create and organize your login credentials from one place.
You know the drill by now, but a good password has at least eight characters with upper- and lowercase letters and numbers. And don’t forget to add a special character for good measure!
We know it sounds obvious, but complex passwords are an online security must. Hard-to-crack passwords make it harder for cybercriminals to infiltrate your business accounts. Consider using multifactor authentication as well. If you’re unfamiliar with this feature, it sends a temporary code to your smartphone, which is a must-have for accessing your account.
4. Use a VPN When Connecting to Wi-Fi
Using a virtual private network with your Wi-Fi is another handy cyber safety tip. A VPN hides your public IP address when you connect to web-based sites and services, giving you much-needed anonymity and security.
VPNs essentially tunnel the traffic between your device and the remote server. Many web users use VPNs to avoid the chance of anyone tracking their online activity. Since public Wi-Fi networks can draw attention to your business’ accounts and be a tempting target for cybercrime, we suggest having your team use a VPN if you don’t already.
5. Team With an Awesome Startup Cybersecurity Provider
Now, we get to the meat and potatoes of Cybersecurity — a top-notch partner to help you implement all the necessary safety measures! As a leading Cybersecurity firm, Eden Data has the tools and knowledge to protect your organization from cyberattacks, implementing systems that minimize the risk of a breach and defend your most valuable assets.
A Cybersecurity provider can also help your business maintain compliance with government requirements, shaping your policies to keep your network up to code. A Cybersecurity team can help safeguard your company against ransomware, phishing scams and everything in between. If and when a threat occurs, they’ll know how to respond.
Partner With Eden Data for Cybersecurity Startup Services
A little birdie told us you're looking for startup security services. Not to boast, but our team at Eden Data has been around the Cybersecurity block a few times.
Through our monthly, fixed-cost subscription plans, you’ll have access to essential services like vCISO, Cybersecurity Audit Readiness and Data Protection. And best of all, you don't have to worry about us charging you those sky-high hourly rates.