Cyber security

The 5 simple questions every founder needs to ask to keep their startup cybersafe

- April 18, 2023 3 MIN READ
Photo: AdobeStock
As a victim of data breaches from well-known Australian companies, I have come to realise the importance of cybersecurity.

It is alarming to see that even after such data breaches, banks and utilities still ask for personal information that is publicly available and already compromised.

This makes one wonder if these companies are doing enough to protect their customers’ data. It is high time that startup founders realise the significance of cybersecurity and take necessary steps to protect themselves and their customers.

I attended a conference last year where a company director suggested five simple questions that even non-technical people can ask about data.

These questions are:

  1. What information are we collecting?
  2. Why are we collecting this information?
  3. How is this information being stored?
  4. Is this information encrypted and who has access to it?
  5. When can we delete or remove sensitive information?

The first question is crucial because startups often collect more information than they need, which can lead to unnecessary risk. It is essential to collect only the information that is necessary and relevant to the business.

The second question is about understanding the purpose of collecting information. It is vital to collect data that is aligned with the business objectives and ensure that it is not used for anything outside of the agreed-upon purposes.

The third question focuses on how data is stored. It is important to ensure that data is stored securely and that access to it is restricted to authorised personnel only.

The fourth question addresses encryption, a key aspect of data security. Encryption helps to protect data in transit and at rest. It is also essential to know who has access to encrypted data, and how that access is monitored and managed.

The final question is about data retention. It is important to have a clear policy on when sensitive data should be deleted or removed. Retaining data for longer than necessary can increase the risk of a data breach.

Just the beginning

These five questions are just the beginning of what startup founders need to consider when it comes to cybersecurity.

They should start with a risk assessment to identify vulnerabilities and potential threats. Based on the risk assessment, a cybersecurity strategy should be developed that addresses these risks. This strategy should include measures to prevent, detect, and respond to cyber threats.

Startup founders should also educate their employees on best practices for cybersecurity. Employees can be the weakest link in any organisation’s cybersecurity defences, and they should be trained on how to recognise and respond to cyber threats.

Implementing security controls is another critical aspect of cybersecurity. Founders should implement a variety of security controls to protect their data and systems. These controls might include firewalls, antivirus software, encryption, and access controls.

Monitoring for suspicious activity is also important. Founders should monitor their systems and networks for any unusual activity that might indicate a cyber attack is underway. This might include monitoring for unusual login attempts, changes to system settings, or data exfiltration.

Regular security audits can help identify potential weaknesses in a startup’s cybersecurity defences. These audits should be conducted by an independent third party to ensure that they are thorough and objective.

Finally, startup founders should have a plan in place for responding to a cyber attack. Despite the best efforts to prevent cyber attacks, they can still happen.

Founders should have a plan in place for containing the attack, notifying stakeholders, and restoring operations.

The world has changed in recent years and with the rise of remote work and digitalisation, cybersecurity has become even more critical.

Cybercriminals are constantly finding new ways to infiltrate systems, steal sensitive data, and disrupt business operations. As such, it is imperative that startup founders take a proactive approach to cybersecurity and implement robust measures to protect themselves and their customers.

Cybersecurity is a critical issue for startup founders. It is essential to take proactive measures to protect their data and systems from cyber threats.

By taking a proactive approach to cybersecurity, startup founders can protect themselves and their customers, build trust and loyalty, and ensure the long-term viability of their business.

With the increasing threat of cybercrime, there is no time to waste. The time to act is now.

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