In an increasingly digital world, startups, small businesses, and large corporations should have at least one goal in common: implementing cybersecurity for startups/SMB at an early stage but what is the importance of cybersecurity for startups/SMB at an early stage. As per the World Economic Forum this year, cybersecurity is the number one worry for CEOs around the world. A data breach does not only have reputation damage but also has a direct impact on the balance sheet of an organization. Yahoo is the perfect example. The company lost $350 million in valuation due to the breach and had to settle on a $4.48 billion deal with Verizon.
The above scenario best exemplifies the truth in cybersecurity. No industry, sector, or country is quarantined against a cyber attack. Every company, be it a technology giant or a small business, has vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers. It is a well-acknowledged fact that the hackers have equal if not better resources that are on par with security professionals. So, the threat is real. But, the main reason behind a firm getting hacked is not the existence of the hazard, the hackers, but the vulnerability which is the indifference shown to cybersecurity by the company management.
As per the Internet Security Threat Report 2016, published by Symantec, 43% of the spearphishing attacks were targeted against small businesses. There are prudent and pragmatic reasons why small businesses and start-ups in India face an imminent cyber threat. Yes, the threat is real but do not get stressed about it and if you are new to the world of cybersecurity, there are many aspects of cybersecurity that you can get to know gradually but first things first, let’s get to know why you need to take action regarding the security of your data at an early stage.
What is cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is the protection of internet-connected systems such as hardware, software, and data from cyber-threats. The practice is used by individuals and enterprises to protect against unauthorized access to data centers and other computerized systems. Cybersecurity is an important part of technical strategy be it a technical or non-technical company and to put an effective strategy in place, one needs to have information about all the aspects of cybersecurity.
Why cybersecurity is so important for startups/SMB at an early stage?
A significant portion of that data can be sensitive information, whether that be intellectual property, financial data, personal information, or other types of data for which unauthorized access or exposure could have negative consequences. Organizations transmit sensitive data across networks and to other devices in the course of doing business, and cybersecurity describes the discipline dedicated to protecting that information and the systems used to process or store it.
The importance of cybersecurity can be realized by looking at the example of one of the Uber hack that happened in 2016 and was disclosed in 2018. In November 2016, attackers obtained credentials to access Uber’s cloud servers and downloaded 16 large files, including the records of 35 million users across the globe. The hackers could access information on passengers’ full names, phone numbers, email addresses, and the location where they had signed up. Due to the result of this data breach, Uber had to pay $148m to cover-up.
Therefore, Cybersecurity, data privacy, and regulatory compliance have become increasingly essential business challenges for startups and global organizations alike, and these issues impact starting, running, investing, or acquiring a business. Today’s consumer has become more focused on data protection and privacy and has less confidence in a startup’s ability to safeguard digital assets.
When does a startup/SMB should start implementing the aspects of cybersecurity?
The answer to this question is you should start implementing the aspects of cybersecurity from day one you have started working on your product/service but what factors one needs to consider that can help in deciding before applying the aspects of cybersecurity on the product. Let’s have a look at these factors:
- Are you asking users to log in to your platform?
- Are you using a database to store information?
- Are you asking users to process transactions?
- Are you collecting, storing, or using users’ regulated data( like financial, health, etc)?
- Are you using the services of cloud-based resources like Infrastructure as a Service?
- Do you have clients in highly regulated industries?
If the answer to any of the above questions is ‘yes’, then you need to implement aspects of cybersecurity to safeguard the data as early as possible.
What are the benefits of implementing cybersecurity at an early stage?
Considering, the sophisticated hacks we have been seeing, coupled with the high cost (both business and reputation) of breaches, cybersecurity readiness and compliance can no longer be ignored. So here are some benefits that an early-stage startup can gain by investing time and resources into a strong, foundational cybersecurity strategy:
- Results in having more customers
Security and compliance are selling points in the current state of the world, and your customers will expect it. Security, or lack thereof, could make or break your first big B2B customer.
- A hundred percent return on investment
Some enterprise customers will require specific security and regulatory compliance levels even to do business and hence providing them with their required security standards can result in profit for your business.
- Builds reputation in the market
Do what others will not. Security, data privacy, and regulatory compliance in your industry can make you stand out and create a competitive barrier to entry into your market.
- Reduce Security Debt
Cybersecurity, data privacy, and regulatory compliance design decisions early on cost a lot less than down the road as your company begin to scale as customers, and requirements get larger.
Being at an early stage, there are lot of things on your plate that needs to have your equal attention and efforts. Planning a foundational security strategy is important to establish a culture, create value, and get success in that strategy. Having a company that can understand your requirements, prepare a strategy and helps you implement the strategy can bring a whole lot of value to your system and last but not least, what if you can subscribe to their service instead of signing a one time contract as well as canceling the subscription if the service is not up to the mark serves as an added bonus, both for your time and budget.