Cyberattacks can happen to anyone and anywhere. They come in many forms and cause consequential damages, especially on small businesses like startups. The danger of having lost or stolen confidential data can impact not only business owners but their customers as well.
Startups face many challenges, and a cyberattack can be devastating to operations. With the Internet allowing anyone to start a business online and operate from anywhere in the world, the theft of data has become so commonplace that it surpasses physical theft.
If you use the Internet for your business, and you most probably do, here are the 3 most common cyber threats you need to be educated on in order to secure your startup.
Phishing involves email scams that look legitimate and from a trusted source such as a friend or financial institution. Phishing attacks involve tricking the email recipient into divulging confidential data. The phishing emails have attachments or links, which when clicked on, download malware or redirect the user to a fake website belonging to the hackers. The site asks for login details, used by the hackers to steal your confidential information.
image from Phishing.org
Ransomware involves a hacker holding your data at ransom-literally. In this attack, the hackers encrypt your data and demand a ransom in exchange for access to the data. Ransomware ranges from small-scale attacks to large-scale attacks such as the 2018 lockdown of Atlanta city’s municipal government data.
Forbes predicted that in 2020, cyber threats would rise by 300%, mostly on startups. Ransomware on startups will hike from $150,000 to $300,000 for each incident, giving rise to more businesses declaring bankruptcy and closing down. For every ten affected startups, at least two would close down. Most startups tend to use old and outdated windows servers, which are vulnerable to cyberattacks.
image from The Straits Times
A data breach happens when a hacker gets into your system and leaks confidential data. Confidential company information can be accessed, stolen, and used by a cybercriminal without authorisation. A data breach can instantly ruin a startup through the loss of data, reputation, and money from lawsuits effected by the affected clients.
image from DNSstuff
How Long Does It Take To Recover From A Threat?
According to IBM, recovering from a cyber-threat for companies in 2020 is approximately 197 days to identify the breach and 69 days to contain it. The time between identification and containment can cost your businesses millions of dollars.
Sometimes, hackers may be long gone before you discover you were hacked. It is always better to prevent these risks before they actually happen than rectifying them because chances are, you might never know until it is too late.
How To Protect Your Network From Cyber Attacks
1. Install a VPN
One way to mitigate cyberattacks is to secure the network with a VPN (Virtual Private Network). The way VPNs work is by replacing your IP address and making sure your location and traffic is private. A VPN also encrypts your communication and prevents hackers from intercepting your data.
2. Anti-Malware software
Malware installs on your computers once you click on the phishing links in the emails. You need to install anti-malware software on your entire network and all your devices such as computers, mobiles, and routers.
3. Use of Two-factor Authentication
Using two-factor or multi-factor authentication makes it difficult for a hacker to infiltrate your network without your authorisation. Two-factor authentication includes using a password with either biometric authentication such as a fingerprint scan, or a second passcode, which is sent to a second device, which no one can gain access to except you.
How To Rate Your Startup's Security Needs
Assess your startup’s security needs by doing a risk assessment. Risk assessment involves the process used to identify risks. There are five steps involved:
Identify the threats: A threat is anything or anyone that might exploit your system vulnerability and cause harm to your startup. Besides malware and hackers, other threats include system failure, natural disasters, malicious interference by workers, etc.
Decide who and what might be at risk: Identify the people or assets that may be affected by the attack such as employees, systems, hardware, laptops, intellectual property, and customer data.
Evaluate the threats and decide on the solutions: After assessing the type of risks involved, decide on which measures you need to take for each type of threat.
Record the solutions and implement them: Make a list of all the solutions and implement them accordingly.
Review the completed assessment and update: Once you are done with the assessment and implementation, do a review and update any solutions regularly that might be outdated.
Cyber-threats abound wherever there is online traffic. Hackers thrive on infiltrating vulnerable networks, and for a startup, a hacking incident might spell disaster even before the business takes off. Always stay vigilant and take every email attachment with a grain of salt. Not everything is what it seems, as hackers are masters of deceit.
This article was written by a guest contributor from TechWarn. Check out their platform for the latest tech news and digital safety information.
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