When you are handholding your young startup as it takes its baby steps towards adolescence, it becomes difficult to handle all operational aspects. One critical issue that needs your attention is the security of the website and IT systems. While most small businesses do neglect this aspect, studies show that small businesses bear the brunt of these attacks mostly because they are unprepared against such attacks.
A 2019 Ponemon report on the status of cybersecurity with small businesses showed that only 30% of the sample companies stated that they have adequate security postures against cyber threats.
Imbibing IT best practices
You need to impart training on IT best practices to your employees. It starts by having a robust password policy that covers the industry’s best practices. You must also inform your IT team to incorporate stringent checks on any unauthorized access to the back end of the website.
Also, there must be adequate audit trails to know about any changes done. Do educate your employees about phishing attacks – a common way to deploy harmful ransomware and other malware.
Your IT team needs to ensure that the Wi-Fi systems do not allow unauthorized access. It is another risk that you must mitigate by using excellent password practices and other advanced measures.
Understand how a secure website helps
It always helps a startup if the founders understand a problem at hand. Similarly, it also helps if they are aware of the dangers of a potential data breach and the methods that can be deployed to prevent this from happening.
Once you have an inkling about the issue at hand, do formalize a plan to address this issue.
Devise a formidable security policy to prevent any data breach that would have the security checkpoints to be created and a response plan in case there is a data breach.
Periodically update all applications
Working on backdated applications could lead to severe attacks on your networks. Most applications provide periodic patches that ensure the vulnerabilities in the earlier versions are removed.
To start with, you must update the content management system and the associated plug-ins whenever an update is available for these.
You should also update any other system applications that you may be using, lest any unscrupulous elements take advantage of the loopholes to create havoc.
Have periodic backups
Your IT policy must have a special section on backups. Taking regular backups is essential from various perspectives. All your vital information, viz. spreadsheets, financial documents, databases must be backed up periodically.
It is suggested that you have an exact mirror of the data that currently resides in your systems. Also, ensure that you create two backups that are in separate regions also.
The backups could also reside on the cloud. However, it would help if you undertook periodic checks on the vulnerability of the cloud location. Ideally, you must take full backups every week or fortnight with incremental backups every one or two days.
Secure your website
To safeguard your website, an SSL Certificate will be of immense help. You must ensure that the communication between the web browser of the visitor and your web server is encrypted through the HTTPS protocol. Apart from safeguarding your information, it protects your customers information like credit cards, usernames and more. Moreover, search engines give preference to HTTPS websites.
Different types of SSL certificates are there in SSL industry for example, if you are operating multiple domains, then comodo multi domain SSL will help. It will allow you to safeguard numerous domains and sub-domains. It also allows you to scale up your website when you need additional domains. It saves your cost to be spent after individual SSL certificate for each domain/subdomain.
Undertake periodic audits on your systems
It always pays to be safe than sorry. It would be best if you undertook the due diligence of your IT vendors, mainly your hosting services provider. You must include a clause on periodic audits in the agreement with the vendor.
While finalizing the deal, you must request for testimonial and references with whom you can understand the abilities of the vendor. Also, look for any reviews online that will also provide insights on the skills of the web host.
Internally, it would help if you also had periodic penetration testing of your networks and associated systems. It would help you detect any vulnerabilities well in advance. If any such weaknesses are identified, they need to be plugged urgently.
Are you capturing excess customer data?
Undertake a review of the customer forms and the various other customer connection points. Is the information gathered about your customers necessary? It would help if you did a periodic assessment to find out whether you are collecting data about your customers that you do not require.
While you may be acquiring contact information about your customers, please note that it is not ideal if you are capturing their financial records. You must store minimal information about your customers and remove the excess data.
Take the right steps to success
Given that cyber criminals mainly target small businesses as most of them have laid down their guard, it becomes necessary that you devise proper checkpoints to prevent any mishap. It would help if you started by procuring an SSL Certificate. It will ensure your communication with the visitors is encrypted.
Finally, you must also have a robust IT policy that will detail the safeguards to be put in place and security guide for remote employees. These tips mentioned above will help you minimize the risk of cyberattacks. However, it all starts with understanding the issues at hand and devising a robust IT security policy.
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Founder Dinis Guarda
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