As a startup business, you have plenty of things to think about. However, one task that must be managed as soon as you open your doors is data security and protection. Unfortunately, many startups don’t effectively prioritize data security or rely on tools that are inadequate for the job, putting their company at risk from the get-go.
Because adequate data security is vital to the very survival of your company, it’s important that you avoid several common mistakes. While fully securing your data and network involves an investment of time and money, when you consider the potential consequences of not fulling securing your most important asset, those are resources well spent.
Mistake #1: Relying on Antivirus and Firewalls Only
Undoubtedly, antivirus software and firewalls are a key part of any security strategy. However, they are only a part of the strategy, and should not be the only security measure that you take. Effective data security is not only about keeping the “bad guys” out, but also about knowing exactly where your data lives, who is accessing it, and what’s happening on your network at all times.
Monitoring your data so you know what is happening with it — as well as a comprehensive procedure for responding to suspicious behavior within your network — can help prevent your data from being modified, deleted, disclosed, or otherwise used without authorization. By controlling who accesses your data and what they can do with it, in addition to blocking viruses and malicious traffic, you have a better chance of keeping your data safe.
Mistake #2: Not Understanding the Threat
Despite reams of evidence to the contrary, many startups still don’t believe that they are a target for data breaches and other attacks. Because they are small and somewhat under the radar, they develop a false sense of security and believe that they will not be attacked. While this might be true for a short time, the fact is, small businesses and startups are just as vulnerable to hacks and other attacks as their larger, more established counterparts.
Startups are held to the same data protection standards as every other company, and must comply with all applicable laws related to data protection. Not to mention, hackers aren’t always after personal or financial information. A data breach could expose your trade secrets or business intelligence, sinking your startup before it even gets off the ground.
Mistake #3: Not Investing in Training
Employee training is consistently touted as one of the top methods of ensuring data security and preventing breaches. Training employees in the fundamentals of data protection, their role in keeping data secure, and how to identify risks is vital, but many startups skip this step, assuming that employees know what to do or that a single training session is enough. Employee training needs to be comprehensive and ongoing, with clear policies and expectations for accountability to help ensure data security.
Mistake #4: Assuming That a Data Center Isn’t Right for You
Many startups look at data centers as a “someday” investment — when they get big enough, have more money, and a greater need for protection and data management. However, what they fail to realize is that using a data center keeps the business more secure from the start while also allowing for more seamless growth in the future. Using a data center allows for more efficient backups, greater security, and improved support, making it a worthwhile investment for a new company.
Mistake #5: Not Using Encryption
Finally, encrypting data is one of the most effective ways to prevent exposure in the event of a data breach. Encrypting data both during storage and during transfer is important, yet so many small companies skip this step due to a misunderstanding of the complexity of managing encryption or the misguided belief that it’s not necessary. New tools make it easier than ever to encrypt data and manage keys, so even the smallest, most bootstrapped company can afford to add this extra layer of protection.
Data protection needs to be a primary concern of any startup from day one. It is not something that can be dealt with “later,” or managed with consumer-grade tools. To ensure the success of your business and prevent unnecessary costs that could irreparably harm your company, make data security and protection a priority and avoid these major mistakes.