5 Tips for start-ups for better Information security


Author : Gary O Brien, Safe Harbour Security

Protecting data when a company is still in the start-up phase can be quite a challenge. Not everyone in the company may understand how essential an information security policy is or what types of data need to be protected. There may also be limited resources available to focus on information security, which is why start-up’s are a favoured target for cyber criminals.

Unfortunately, many start-ups don’t start thinking about putting an information security policy in place until after a breach has occurred. Failing to take the proper precautions can have devastating financial consequences

Start-ups quite rightly want to focus on positive cash flow as soon as possible in order to survive, so they might go after specific clients that require ISO 27001 as a condition to start working with a new supplier. The fastest way for start-ups to generate revenue and quickly build up loyal customers is to specialise. 

By narrowing down on a niche and provide laser-focused services, start-ups improve their chances of survival and growth. Whatever niche you choose, one thing is certain – to be more attractive to clients, you need to be advanced with information security.

As a business in the start-up phase, the following 5 tips will give some guidance on what you might want to achieve in terms of information security.

1. Have a formal data security plan 

You need to decide who in your company needs to have access to which data and develop policies to guard this access. Nobody should have more access than they actually need. If people are bringing their own devices to work, make sure that those devices are using the latest protection. This can include various forms of multi-factor, including fingerprints and facial recognition. Review your plan regularly and update it as more people join the company and new departments emerge. Never let your security plan go stagnant.

2. Make Compliance work for you

Obeying the regulations of a company’s market is essential to the survival and growth of a start-up. It is crucial for a young and more vulnerable company to avoid fines and obstacles which would make the hard start even harder. Unnecessary problems infringe on relations with authorities instead of strengthening them. By law, some companies have to follow strict rules, i.e. in the health and financial sectors. Other companies are well advised to prove compliance in case of incidents.

3. Cyber awareness training

Make sure that you train your employees right from the start. As soon as you begin data protection, start training your people as well. As new employees come in, conduct a cybersecurity policy workshop to let them know how things are done. Let them come to you for help when they need it. Make sure that you go over the cybersecurity policies with your employees on a regular basis, so they always keep it top of mind. Don’t let it be a one-time event.

4. Develop a risk management strategy

While some companies might not have their main focus on information security, most start-ups should.  The reason this is especially important for start-ups is the risk of potential damage to the reputation which could occur because of inappropriate risk management or security breaches. These incidents could ruin the chances for success and would severely jeopardize the path of business development before the start-up even began to grow

5. Patch when updates become available and have a tech refresh policy

Applying security patches to your environment is crucial to ensuring all your endpoint and network devices have the latest security and vulnerability patches applied.

Also have a policy for equipment that has become end of life, these devices will no longer be supportable and therefore left behind from a security update perspective by the vendor.

When organizations fail to keep their patches and IT infrastructure current, they expose themselves to known and easily preventable threats.

ISO 27001 can help bring your company to the next level from a data protection point of view. The structure it gives and the awareness it creates with respect to data protection helps to get this topic on top of everybody’s mind and ensure your prospective customers have confidence in your business to protect their data. 

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