Phishing Can Cripple A Startup: Reducing Risks And The Damage A Phishing Attack Can Cause

Startups seems to be popping up all over as it is easier than ever to start a business online. Plenty of startups are located in a person’s home during its infancy or permanently if the company has remote workers. Remote workers and in-house workers present the same challenges as some do not keep cybersecurity as a priority. Phishing is the process of stealing information through fraudulent emails or fake websites used to steal information like credit card information or passwords. Naïve or careless employees can easily be tricked with even knowledgeable staff members being susceptible to advanced phishing attacks. The following are tips to reduce the risk of a phishing attack as well as damage an attack can do to a startup. 

Doing Cybersecurity Trainings With Staff

cyber security

The best thing that a company can do regardless of size can do is train their employees how to avoid phishing scams and other cybersecurity threats. The important portion of this training is making the training applicable to the company rather than simply having a general training. Companies that do a majority of their work online will need more extensive training than a company that just keeps financial records online in QuickBooks. Reducing risk is what training is all about as many staff members do not realize the risky behaviors that they partake in on a daily basis. The younger generation is usually more careful as they have seen a plethora of spam emails and scams throughout their lives. 

Sending Out Updates Of New Phishing Scams That Are Becoming Popular 

Phishing attacks are becoming cleverer in the ways that they are presented to the recipient of an email or a visitor of a website. Sending out a weekly or monthly email about new tactics that are becoming popular is wise. Those employees that might be at risk could read a phishing email then remember the email blast that was sent. Employees also need to be held accountable for leaks as risky behavior should not be overlooked especially when it can damage the business.

Company Accounts Can Be Compromised Through Phishing

Company accounts can easily be hacked through phishing as many employees use the same password for both personal and professional accounts. For this reason, institute policies of how often company account passwords need to be changed. Other policies that can be extremely useful is that of not allowing company devices to be used for personal reasons. Personal devices should also never be used for company work as they could already be infected with malware or a keylogger. One risk that far too many companies and especially startups forget to do is changed password after an employee has been terminated or leaves the company. The high employee turnover at many startups could be to account for this but make sure passwords are changed so a disgruntled employee does not have the opportunity to leak vital information. Passwords should be on a need to know basis as well to minimize the number of passwords that need to be changed after an employee has ended their time with the startup. 

A Phishing Attack Could Be Sent From Fake Company Accounts 

A hacker that has gotten information about company emails could be sending out emails from fake or real company accounts. The reply would be to the hacker’s email which could include a variety of information. The email could ask for payment details from a client as there was a system error. A large portion of clients would just reply with payment details if they received the email from their client manager or the email of an executive. A startup can cripple sales or ruin relationships with clients through just one of these successful attacks. Clients tend to talk in certain industries so this could leave the startup on the blacklist until it goes out of business. 

Clients Might Want To Work With Other Companies After A Successful Phishing Attack

The truth is that information being leaked is a nightmare to recover from and is inconvenient for everyone involved. The last thing that a client will want is to do more work for dealing with a startup. Clients hire companies to help them do less work and in the case of a data leak/stolen information this is rarely the case. A company might opt for an established competitor in your startup’s business niche. Companies that have been around for a long time might not have better cybersecurity policies but they do have the trust of others in the industry if they have been problem free. 

Phishing attacks are going to continue to occur as they are successful more than the average person would imagine. Understanding the risks and educating employees can reduce the risk of an attack obtaining important company information. Do not give clients a reason to flock to competitors due to a lack of focus on cybersecurity. 

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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