Keep Your Startup Customer Data Safe

Startups and small businesses are a favorite target for cybercriminals. In fact, 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses. In an age where everything is geared towards technology, high tech villains are finding the perfect hunting grounds to increase their destructive activities. A single cyberattack on your startup can disrupt operations, cripple your business, and damage your reputation.

When you want to beef up your startup’s cybersecurity, one of the main areas you need to focus on is customer data. This data is the lifeblood of your business. When handled well, customers will trust your brand, keep coming back, and even make referrals. Today’s customers are digital savvy, and they expect you to have a robust cybersecurity strategy before they entrust you with vital personal information. Here’s how your startup can protect your customer’s data.

Startup battle

Know The Types Of Risks

To secure your customer data, the first thing you need to do is to educate yourself on all the cybersecurity risks lying out there. Threats that are constantly evolving every day and attacks are getting more sophisticated. Learning about the latest threats will help you put the right measures in place. Hacking is one of the major challenges that startups face when it comes to protecting customer data. Hackers attempt to access the bank account database and customer records. Phishing is also a popular method for cyberattackers. Here, the criminal sends an email masquerading as a genuine contact. Other security risks that can affect customer data include insider threats and ransomware attacks. Once you are aware of the current dangers, you can now develop effective countermeasures.

Create A Data Security Policy

Your startup needs to come up with a detailed data security policy. Develop and adopt a clear strategy on how customer data can be accessed, transmitted, processed, and stored. Having a policy on each of these processes will deny hackers the opportunity to find loopholes that can be exploited. Have a data classification plan to help you protect sensitive data and eliminate the collection of unimportant data. As a startup, it’s best you avoid storing sensitive customer data unless you need it for your operations. The less the data you store, the easier it is to protect it. If you have to store critical data like card information, social security numbers, ensure you encrypt it, put it in one central location, and lock the drive in a secure room where only authorized employees can access it.

Train Your Employees

Using a powerful encryption tool and a strong firewall is not enough when it comes to guarding customer data. Although these measures can make your database impregnable, they won’t be effective if your employees aren’t trained in cybersecurity. Hackers today breach the defenses of companies through employees’ computers and personal devices. Educate your team members on safe browsing techniques. Show them how to identify and avoid fake websites, spam emails, phishing links, and other red flags. You should also have a strict password policy at the workplace. Coach employees on creating strong passwords, and also make sure everyone uses a two-factor authentication password on every device that is used to access work files and applications. 

Adhere To Basic Cyber Security Principles

It may sound obvious, but implementing the basic security measures can be your best bet when it comes to protecting your business from harm. Instead of just focusing on complex security measures, ensure you close down even the easiest routes that hackers can use. A cybercriminal will first attempt to penetrate using simple tactics before using more advanced techniques. They know some companies have invested heavily in security systems, yet they still use “123456” as their passwords. Although such passwords are easy to remember, they can lead to devastating breaches. Make sure you update all company passwords, including those of network devices. Also, use a firewall, a reliable antimalware tool, a secure payment processing option, and remember to keep all software and operating systems updated.

Make Penetration Testing Part Of Your Security Routine

To identify vulnerabilities in your security strategy, conduct penetration testing. This is a form of ethical hacking that is directed towards your company’s security infrastructure. It aims to expose any weaknesses that could compromise the safety of your data. The test can also help you to discover configuration errors or improper user conduct. Regularly conducting this test ensures any problems are detected early before a hacker exploits them. There are different penetration tools in the market that you can use to emulate a real attack and find loopholes in your security strategy. Look for one that fits your budget and your business needs. Investing in this solution is a smart way to secure the future of your startup.

Bottom Line

Cybercriminals are now using sophisticated techniques to breach companies’ security defenses and steal customer information. To keep your customer data watertight, you need to develop a robust security framework. Make sure you educate your team members, encrypt your system, use strong passwords, test your security infrastructure regularly, and update your cyber policies consistently.

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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