A Step-by-Step Security Plan for Startups

Cyberattacks pose a serious risk to all businesses, particularly startups. We often hear of larger organisations falling victim to cyberattacks, but startups are desirable targets for threat actors too. Unfortunately, they are often unaware of the looming risk posed on them by the ever-growing threat landscape.

According to Statista, the global average cost of a data breach amounted to $4.45 million in 2023, increasing from $4.35 million in the previous year. This alone has the potential to cripple startups’ operations, yet the cost of a cyberattack extends beyond just monetary losses. It only takes one data breach to ruin an organisation’s momentum and customer trust. Startups hit by attacks suffer from reputational damage, loss of productivity, and permanent loss of critical data.

With the future of their business on the line, startups must make cybersecurity a top business priority from the outset. They need to proactively adopt cyber hygiene measures and scalable security solutions to support seamless business growth.

Startups as a Top Target

Startups often believe they are too small to be on threat actors’ radars. The reality is all organisations, no matter their size, are at risk. Startups are easy targets for threat actors due to their limited resources and expertise. Unlike larger and more established organisations, they can’t afford to hire an extensive cybersecurity team and may overlook the need for a cybersecurity program.

A successful attack can cause irreversible damage as startups attempt to build their industry presence. They feel attacks deeply as they lack an established customer base or revenue stream to fall back on. To mitigate emerging attacks and protect the future of their business, they must build a solid security foundation centred around getting the basics of cybersecurity right.

Kick-Starting Your Cybersecurity Journey

For startups, the consequences of cyberattacks are too high to ignore. They can take the future of their business into their own hands by implementing cybersecurity best practices at an early stage and ingraining these processes into company culture.

By following these essential steps, startups can kick-start their cybersecurity maturity journey and build resilience effectively:

  • Prioritising Employee Education – The modern threat landscape can be overwhelming for startups to navigate. To effectively educate their employees, they should focus their efforts on creating training programs relevant to the user. This involves informing users about the type of threats that could be targeting their industry specifically. Training sessions should be carried out regularly to spread awareness of the latest threat tactics. This should also cover how employees can secure their digital devices while working in remote environments.
  • Performing Regular Backups and Patching – In the event of an attack, it is important to get operations back up and running as quickly as possible to minimise business disruption. Startups can reduce system downtime by regularly backing up critical data by following the 3-2-1 strategy. This means having at least three copies of your data backed up in two local sites, but on different devices, and at least one copy off-site. At the same time, many vulnerabilities within software programs are patched out in newer versions, so keeping systems up to date is crucial.
  • Implementing Password Hygiene Measures – Startups can achieve safer password protection by implementing a password vault/manager that supports multi-factor authentication. Employees can also follow best practices by not using the same passwords for work and personal accounts. They should also create passwords that leverage a combination of numbers, special characters, and upper and lower cases so they're not easily guessed.
  • Preparing a Response Plan – Developing a comprehensive response plan is a key step within a startup’s cybersecurity maturity journey. An effective plan will clearly define what counts as an incident and have measures in place to detect, contain, and eradicate the threat. With a response plan in place, startups can establish a clear course of action in the event of an attack.

By implementing these measures, startups can establish a secure foundation. However, as they experience growth, their cybersecurity maturity needs to scale accordingly. Adapting their approach to match their evolving needs requires exploring innovative security solutions. A cloud-native software as a service (SaaS) security information and event management (SIEM) platform is a great fit for small organisations operating with limited resources. It provides the cybersecurity tools and solutions to effectively identify, detect, and mitigate threats without expensive infrastructure investments.

Achieving a Secure Future

Cybersecurity is an ongoing journey that requires continuous investments and transformation. Startups that make cybersecurity a priority from the beginning put themselves ahead of their competitors, allowing them to focus on business growth without security-based setbacks.

Establishing a solid and scalable security foundation enables them to mitigate risk, and seamlessly work towards reaching their full business potential.