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Cybersecurity for Startups: A Step-By-Step Guide

Published on Sep 29 2022

Nothing is as fascinating as having an innovative idea and seeing it through to completion. Idea-based businesses require courage, dedication, and work-focused concentration. Unfortunately, cyber threats force many companies to close before seeing the light.

According to Cyber Crime Magazine, 60% of small businesses close within six months of being cyberattacked.

Cybersecurity issues are frequently underrated, either due to ignorance or because it is thought to be an unnecessary expense. Since many startups are vulnerable and, unlike large corporations, can be severely damaged by a cyberattack, cybersecurity is crucial to their success.

Cyber security may be fuzzy for startup entrepreneurs; therefore, this article provides a comprehensive step-by-step guide on safeguarding a startup from the negative effects of cyberattacks, along with good practices that will keep it safe from day one.

Get the Latest Cybersecurity Software

Cybercriminals constantly develop new ways to penetrate systems; the most common is malware. It’s a malicious code designed to infect systems giving them a backdoor to access, compromise or steal data.

Implementing a business-class corporate antivirus software is the first line of defense; typically, it can detect malicious code and remove it from the system. Antiviruses discover the latest malware attacks through their wide network and develop security patches and bug fixes to protect the computers of the end-users and the company's network and information assets.

Expert advice

  • Most antivirus software is available in free and paid versions. Many entrepreneurs use the free version as a cut-cost approach, which can effectively be an initial layer of protection. But, when collecting customer data starts, getting a paid version is a must to unlock all security features.
  • Keep the antivirus up to date by downloading and installing regular updates and following recommendations.
  • Cybersecurity companies develop multiple versions of the same antivirus, each for a specific purpose; look for the business-class antivirus that corresponds to your work nature and requirements.

Use a Strong Internet Security Software and Firewall

Securing computers and networks isn’t enough, and extra internet security protection is essential; a firewall is a frontline tool for such protection. Firewalls scan incoming and outgoing internet traffic to detect and block suspicious files and malware. It provides continuous 24/7 monitoring that prevents the unintentional download of malicious software. In addition, modern firewalls implement intrusion prevention and detection (IDS and IDP) systems, allowing to engage of the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) using the threat-hunting process.

Expert advice

  • Although most operating systems have a built-in firewall, looking for an advanced solution from a dedicated vendor is recommended.
  • When choosing a firewall, check its capabilities and ensure it’s compatible with your company’s work. Be aware that many options exist on the market, and it’s your job to find out what works best for your startup.

Use Strong, Complicated Passwords and Two-Factor Authentication

We use passwords daily in our personal and work lives; unfortunately, they are the easiest way for cybercriminals to access a system. Start by adopting complicated patterns when creating passwords; a combination of characters, numbers, and letters is important.

Every staff member must have unique passwords for various business accounts, whether for the email or any other platforms they need to access while fulfilling their work. Educating your staff about cybersecurity issues and explaining the risks of weak passwords is a high-priority task for managers at all company levels.

Nowadays, two-factor authentication has become one of the most advanced techniques for securing passwords. It provides a mechanism to double-check and verify the individual identity more than just using a username and password. Each time the password is used, an email or message is sent to the user’s phone or email with a confirmation code.

Expert advice

  • Use an online password generator to create secure passwords for all accounts in your company; those generators follow strict guidelines when creating unique passwords, and some offer cloud storage to keep all of them safe and secure.
  • Ensure that password complexity requirements are implemented at the corporate level as part of the domain and network policies mandatory for the implementation by all users and devices of the company.

Educate your Team About Cybersecurity

Any security precautions will end up being used or conducted by humans; unfortunately, they are the favorite target for cybercriminals. Cybercriminals target humans through social engineering techniques, such as phishing.

An employee with a lack of knowledge of the basic principles of cyber hygiene will be a perfect victim compromising the security of the whole system. That being said, educating the staff about cybersecurity threats and relevant protection methods is required, creating a security-centric culture within the startup staff and preventing releasing sensitive data by mistake.

Expert advice

  • Organize regular cyber awareness sessions for everyone in your team; talk about threats, tell stories of other companies and how they were cyber attacked, and provide recommendations.
  • Restrict network access for the employees to prevent them from downloading or installing software programs independently.

Set Up a Secured Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is one of the most useful tools that facilitate teamwork by making data accessible anytime and anywhere. It’s highly recommended to back up everything safely via cloud storage; however, the same helpful feature can be a dangerous cybersecurity threat, so choose an effective cloud storage provider because the provider’s level of security and precaution will eventually impact your data’s safety.

For additional security, back up all the data on a secure local server, impose access restrictions and user roles, and implement data encryption to ensure your data is safe; this is just an extra safety precaution recommended by many security specialists.

Use HTTPS with Secure Socket Layer certificates

Secure Socket Layer (SSL) helps in providing a secure internet connection between the browser and the business website, which keeps the transmitted data and information away from cybercriminals. SSL protects the startup and the clients and builds credibility and trust. Increased trust drives more traffic and helps in customer retention and cart abundance.

Monitor Third-Party Involvement

Often, third-party vendors or service providers have access to the company's sensitive information needed for the work to be done, putting the company’s assets at high risk of exposure to cybercriminals. So when working with third-party service providers such as payment gateways, as a part of the vetting and onboarding process, check their cyber security protocols and compliance with common standards.

> Third-Party Risk Management (TPRM) – The Quick Introduction & Best Practices

Monitor Cybersecurity Status

As a startup founder, you have too many responsibilities on your shoulders, and cybersecurity has to be one of them. Even if you have an IT specialist, you should monitor all potential risks and compliances to ensure your precious startup is safe and running smoothly.

Fortunately, many solutions have emerged to provide comprehensive monitoring, but they mostly offer detailed and deep tech information.

Humanize is one solution that was created to provide a simplified dashboard for CEOs and other C-level executives, allowing them to track potential cyber threats and get recommendations easily.


For many startups, cybersecurity may not be top of their list of priorities, but that’s a big mistake they might regret later when it’s too late. Building a cyber security culture and taking the necessary precautions such as installing protection software and using complicated passwords will be worth the effort in the future and prevent losses that can cause destroying the business itself.



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