However, as the owner of a startup, the day to day can feel overwhelming. There are perpetually millions of things that require all of your attention and are equally important. Not only do you need to develop an innovative business plan, but you also need to develop a marketing strategy, craft a brand identity, determine your target audience, and establish an online presence that stands out from the millions of other websites that pop up with each Google search.
With so much going on, it can be easy to avoid thinking about the possibility of a security breach. But if there’s one thing that should remain at the top of your priority list, it’s protecting your clients’ security and privacy.
“A business’s size, number of clients, or revenue are no longer predictors of the risk of a cyberattack. No one is too small to be a target.”
According to a recent survey by Clutch, a technology research firm based in Washington, D.C, there’s room for improvement when it comes to how website managers secure their sites and protect Internet users’ privacy. Here are some surprising facts:
- Website visitors’ email addresses (57%), names (47%), and locations (45%) are the most commonly collected data points.
- Once site visitors’ data is collected, 48% of website managers store the information on their website; 46% store information on a third party app, such as Dropbox; and 25% store information offline.
- Website managers are split nearly evenly when it comes to how they host their sites: 47% use self-hosting services, while 49% use externally managed servers.
- 37% of websites use encryption to help protect information.
- An additional 21% of websites plan to add encryption this year.
Collectively, these findings show that although businesses are familiar with common security measures, the gap between knowledge and implementation remains real.
A business’s size, number of clients, or revenue are no longer predictors of the risk of a cyberattack. It is becoming easier for hackers to make use of big data tools to assimilate details about their targeted victims. Businesses, small and large, need to protect their data; no one is too small to be a target.
How to Take Advantage of Online Tools Without Sacrificing Privacy
For busy entrepreneurs, there are seemingly endless lists of tools that can help busy teams remain nimble and connected, allowing teams to access data remotely and work collaboratively. When choosing solutions for your business, it’s equally important to update your strategy for keeping information safe from hackers’ prying eyes.
Adopt Strict Password Requirements
Did you know that it takes only 10 minutes to crack a lowercase password that is 6 characters long? If you add just two extra letters and a few uppercase letters, that number jumps to 3 years. Add just one more character along with some numbers and symbols and it can take up to 44,530 years to crack.
Social media makes cracking a password easier on hackers, too. “Password” and “123456” are also the two most common passwords used. What do your passwords or your employees’ passwords look like to enter your online tools and solutions?
“It takes only 10 minutes to crack a lowercase password that is 6 characters long. If you add just two extra letters and a few uppercase letters, that number jumps to 3 years. Add just one more character along with some numbers and symbols and it can take up to 44,530 years to crack.”
Even if you don’t know the answer to that question right now, it’s not too late to put stronger protection in place. For any tools that are used to manage proprietary information, financial information, or personal information about clients, customers, and employees, it’s important to choose strong passwords that are impervious to hackers.
For a simple solution that avoids the fatigue of remembering multiple complex passwords, consider implementing a password manager. Password managers automatically generate and fill in strong passwords, reducing the number of passwords that you’ll need to remember to just a single one for the password manager itself.
Implement an Encryption Tool to Protect Sensitive Information
When it comes to managing private information about clients or customers, a cyberattack can put your business and its reputation at serious risk.
Your website might collect information such as visitors’ email addresses, names, and locations in order to provide better service and more targeted marketing. But it’s important to reflect on how that information could potentially prove to be damaging in the wrong hands. Consider how a hacker might use this data:
- What other accounts might ask for these pieces of information?
- What does this information reveal about the user’s identity?
- What could hackers potentially guess if they obtained this information?
- How concerned would I be if a hacker had this piece of information about me?
Once you gather private information about customers or clients, it is crucial to take steps to protect it.
Encryption is a simple and common strategy for protecting sensitive information from hackers. Simply put, encryption is a security measure that scrambles information in a document, rendering it unreadable to unauthorized users. Meanwhile, the information is automatically decrypted for approved users, whose computers are equipped with a mathematical key that allows them access.
Train Employees to Recognize Threats
We’ve all received suspicious looking emails from a half-remembered bank employee, a friend we never knew we had, or from a businesses offering an opportunity that was just too good to be true. But hackers who rely on this type of email phishing are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their efforts to replicate legitimate emails from sources you’re likely to trust.
“Investing in security training for your employees is an often overlooked but effective strategy for guarding against cyberattacks. You might lose thirty minutes of the work week but you’ll gain the upper hand in guarding against a catastrophic security breach.”
Once you or one of your employees open one of these emails and click on a link inside, a hacker can get into your computer system to either access your information in a phishing attempt, or freeze your computer until you pay the hacker to have it unfrozen in a ransomware attack. Just as easily, you could download a free software program that turns out to be a trojan horse containing malicious. In all of these situations, hackers attempt to convince users to hand over their information willingly.
Investing in security training for your employees is an often overlooked but effective strategy for guarding against these types of attacks. By scheduling quarterly refreshers that train employees to recognize threats or suspicious correspondence, you might lose thirty minutes of the work week but you’ll gain the upper hand in guarding against a catastrophic security breach.
By giving your employees the tools they need–including help with password protection, encryption, and adequate training–you can take simple steps today that will lead to a more secure future for your business.
SolbegSoft provides competent advisory on data protection and security. Consult us on how best to project and implement system and data security for custom software products and IT infrastructure.