Startup entrepreneurs are understandably wary about the possibility of a data breach. Hacking attacks on big companies like Home Depot, Sony, eBay, JP Morgan Chase and others have startup leaders contemplating new ways to protect their own company data. But most startups operate on a shoestring, so hiring an expensive security consultant isn’t possible.
It’s important to realize that employees are typically the weak link in the company security perimeter. Even within a secure onsite or cloud server environment, an employee or vendor who falls for a phishing scam and gives up login credentials can put sensitive company and customer data at risk.
That’s why it makes sense to address employee security practices, and the good news is that doing so is very affordable.
Here are three tips that can help you improve startup cyber safety:
1. Require employees to use strong passwords on all devices. Compromised passwords are at the heart of many hacking incidents, so it pays to make sure employees create strong passwords using upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. It’s also a good idea to require staff to use a separate password for each site and change it every 30-60 days. A password manager can automate the process and enable employees to always login securely while only having to remember one master password.
2. Provide training on best practices and ongoing support. In many cases, there is no ill intent or carelessness on the part of the employee when a password is compromised. Some team members may simply be unaware of how to protect themselves. Mandatory employee training that covers password management and how to avoid online phishing and keylogger scams can help. With the right resources and ongoing support, employees will be in a better position to protect vital company data.
3. Hold employees accountable for cyber security. One effective way to underscore the importance of cyber safety is to hold everyone who has completed training accountable for using safe practices online. Provide each employee with a detailed security manual that outlines company policies, and ask employees to sign an acknowledgment form to indicate that they understand how to stay safe online and will use their training to operate safely.
None of these cyber-safety measures will break the bank; they can be implemented in-house with little-to-no cost. But by making sure employees know how to operate safely and giving them the tools and resources they need, you can go a long way toward keeping your startup safer in an increasingly risky environment.
About the Author
Bill Carey is Vice President of Marketing & Business Development at Siber Systems Inc., which offers the top-rated RoboForm Password Manager solution. Find out more about RoboForm at roboform.com.