Cyber security is something that the vast majority of businesses can never ignore. Unfortunately,  any computing infrastructure or equipment can be exposed to various methods of attack, leading to thousands of organisations being affected, stoppages in critical operations, and loss of personal data.

You tend to hear a lot about the bigger organisations getting hit by devastating cyber attacks, but of course SMEs are just as much at risk. Startups in particular can understandably get caught up in other pressing business matters, like sales and daily operations, leading them to often overlook security. However, this can be a grave error with sometimes severe consequences.


So, here are 5 things start-up businesses should know about cyber security…


Size means nothing

It’s easy to presume that only large, high profile organisations are targeted by cyber criminals, especially when we often only hear about these examples on the news. However, if a business uses any computing devices, the internet, or has any sort of digital presence whatsoever; it’s likely to be targeted too.


Malicious software and scripts tend to seek out the most vulnerable computers and networks, which many small businesses have. SMEs can be even more at risk due to having very limited experience with cyber security measures. Also, they tend to have no dedicated IT staff who can help to prevent these things from happening.


The most common threats

Certain types of cyber attacks are more common than others, and it’s important to be aware of them all:

  • Data breaches – is where criminals try to steal company data, often by gaining access to personal and financial information stored in databases. Startups will struggle much more than bigger businesses to bounce back from a loss of reputation and customer trust.
  • Ransomware and malware – are malicious software that can infect computers, including mobile devices, on any vulnerable network. They then encrypt files, and blackmail users with a ransom in order for them to gain access again. The ransom is bad enough, but getting locked out of key files can halt business operations indefinitely.
  • Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks – can overwhelm a network with traffic, leaving the business unable to access its website or server. Many SMEs will have no choice but to weather the downtime, which can lead to huge losses in sales and productivity.


Staff can compromise cyber security

Unfortunately, people can often be the weakest link in the cyber security chain, as human error is usually the cause of many breaches. Staff can fall victim to phishing, which involves them being tricked into clicking on dangerous links that end up installing malware.


If a member of staff is careless enough to plug an unsafe device, such as a USB stick that hasn’t been virus checked, into the business’s network and computers, then they could compromise the whole system. Educating every person in the business on the best day-to-day security practices is absolutely essential, to prevent attacks caused by human error.


Be wary who has access

One of the biggest problems with cyber security, is that many SMEs often don’t keep track of who has access to their systems. Startups tend to unnecessarily hand out infrastructure access to many different people. It could be a freelancer that helped get them set up, who still has access to servers afterwards, or an ex-member of staff who still has important passcodes.


Fortunately, many modern administration tools and services can allow a business to set user roles with corresponding levels of access. Meaning they can control who gets to do what on their system. Other ways of preventing vulnerabilities, is to encourage staff to use strong passwords, revoke access to staff who leave, and introduce non-disclosure clauses to prevent passwords getting leaked etc.


Security is an investment

It’s understandable that a start-up or small business won’t want to add to their costs, but cyber security is definitely something that should never be viewed as just another unwanted expense. Besided cost-effective anti-malware and security software, businesses can invest in services, which means they can avoid paying heavy upfront costs for security applications and appliances.

Scalable cyber security as a service, is certainly something that many SMEs need to focus on as a worthwhile investment. They need to understand the risks so that they can prepare properly for any potential cyber attacks down the line.

At Prism, we can improve cyber security across your whole company, by managing and protecting your IT security, leaving you to focus on the running of your business. Please get in touch with our team today to see how we can help.