If you are running a startup, you might be tempted to put IT security on the back burner. After all, you’ve got a lot of pressing issues on your plate, from attracting customers and securing funding to developing your product. But here is the truth: neglecting IT security could end up being a costly mistake that can jeopardize both your business and your reputation. So, here are 11 quick tips to help you safeguard your IT infrastructure and protect your data without breaking the bank.
- Use strong passwords. This might seem like a no-brainer, but many people still rely on weak or default passwords that are like an open invitation to hackers. Use a password manager to generate and securely store complex passwords for various accounts and devices. With a complex, lengthy password, you’ll not be required to change it frequently, as long as it’s secure and it doesn’t get leaked.
- Use multifactor authentication (MFA). MFA is a nifty method that ups the ante on verifying your identity by requiring two or more elements, such as something you know (password), something you have (phone), or something you are (fingerprint). This tool can add an extra layer of security to your online accounts and prevent unauthorized access even if your password is compromised. You should enable MFA whenever it’s an option across all your online accounts to protect your growing business.
- Encrypt your data and devices. Encryption works like a digital lock, jumbling up your data into an unreadable puzzle unless you possess the key to decode it. By encrypting your data and devices, you protect them from unauthorized access, theft, or loss. Whether it’s encrypt your hard drives, USB drives, laptops, smartphones, and cloud storage, you can use the built-in encryption features in your operating system or turn to reliable third-party software for the task. This is of utmost importance especially for confidential company data like business ideas, marketing plans and other business secrets, ensuring that the fruits of your hard work benefit you and not somebody else.
- Install antivirus and firewall software on all your devices. Antivirus software plays the role of a digital detective, identifying and eradicating malicious software, like viruses, worms, ransomware and spyware, that can harm your devices or data. On the other hand, firewall software acts as a guardian by blocking unauthorized network traffic and preventing hackers from accessing your systems or services. To keep your defenses strong, ensure you keep your antivirus and firewall software up-to-date, and make a habit of regularly scanning your devices. Thankfully, most operating systems today offer in-built tools to handle this. Still, it pays off to keep an eye and fine-tune those configurations to rule out any unnecessary risks.
- Backup your data regularly and test your backups. Backing up your data is essential to prevent data loss due to hardware failure, human error, ransomware, or natural disasters. You should backup your data at least once a week to an external drive or a cloud service. Ideally you should not have any data only on your local disks; as you work, store it in a secure location in real-time. This can be done through convenient online solutions. IT4Startups can help you get those things up and running like a charm so you can tackle more important topics.
Another very important part of the backup strategy is recovering this data if it actually gets lost. That’s why you should also periodically test your backups to make sure they’re working and can be restored in case of an emergency. If you haven’t tried to restore your backup yet, that means you don’t have one 😉.
- Educate yourself and your employees. Human error is one of the most common causes of IT security breaches. It is crucial that you and your employees are aware of the basic principles of IT security and the best practices to follow. Be alert and on the lookout for the common signs of phishing, social engineering, spoofing, and other cyberattacks that can trick you into revealing sensitive information or downloading malicious software. Our colleagues at Cryptix IT Security can help you to address this topic in a startup-friendly way.
- Implement a clear IT security policy and enforce it. An IT security policy is a set of rules and guidelines that define how your organization handles its IT resources and data. It should cover aspects such as access control, data classification, encryption, backup, incident response and compliance. To make it all click, communicate your IT security policy to all your employees and stakeholders and enforce it by employing appropriate measures, like audits, sanctions and rewards for compliance. Luckily, you don’t have to do all of that on your own. Our service streamlines this process by equipping you with all the required policies, saving your valuable time.
- Update your software and firmware. Software and firmware updates are not only important for adding new features and fixing bugs; they’re also your help in patching security vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. You should update your operating system, applications, antivirus, firewall, router, and other devices as soon as possible when new updates become available. To simplify the process and save yourself some time and hassle, you can also enable automatic updates.
However, as updates can also break things, ideally they are tested before rolled out globally or to your production environment.
- Use secure networks and connections when working remotely or on the go. Whenever you’re working outside of your office or using public Wi-Fi networks, use secure networks and connections to access your online services or systems. You can use a virtual private network (VPN) to create an encrypted tunnel between your device and a trusted location like your office, which can prevent hackers from intercepting or altering your data.
- Monitor your IT environment and report any suspicious activity or incident. Monitoring your IT environment means keeping track of the performance, activity and status of your devices, networks, systems and services. This can help you identify any anomalies, errors or threats that may jeopardize your IT security. Leverage tools such as logs, alerts and dashboards to monitor your IT environment. if you do detect suspicious activity or incident, report it promptly to the relevant authorities or experts.
- Hire an IT security expert or outsource it to a reputable provider. When you’re dealing with the pressing matters of product development, fundraising and sales, the last thing you want to stress about is IT security. That’s where we come in. We can take this burden off your shoulders and ensure that your startup’s IT infrastructure is secure and in top-notch performance. Just book a short session with us to kickstart your IT