Cybersecurity for Startups: All You Need to Know

Meeba Gracy

Meeba Gracy

Feb 21, 2024

Cybersecurity for Startups: A Comprehensive Guide 2024

With limited resources and fierce competition, cybersecurity often takes a back seat, viewed as a luxury reserved for larger corporations. After all, why would anyone target a startup?

However, cybersecurity is a concern that should be addressed, even for startups. It’s not just big companies facing threats; small businesses and entrepreneurs are vulnerable, too.

Symantec reported a 91% increase in cyberattacks on small businesses from 2012 to 2013, and we are a long way from 2013 now, and stats on cyber attacks on startups are experiencing an upward trend. While startups, small businesses, and entrepreneurs may differ in maturity, they all possess valuable data, new groundbreaking ideas, and valuable user data.

Cybercriminals don’t discriminate based on the target size. Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company, a small business, or even a home user, vulnerable systems are enticing to hackers that can be exploited for quick and easy money.

This article will explore everything about cybersecurity for startups!

Importance of cybersecurity for startups

The importance of cybersecurity for Startups must be recognized because startups face a unique challenge regarding cybersecurity. They often lack the resources for strong protection, making them prime targets for cyberattacks. 

In fact, around 43% of all cyberattacks are directed at less-funded companies, a concerning statistic. What’s even more sobering is that nearly 60% of small businesses close their doors within six months of a cyberattack.

Whatever the stage of your business growth, whether you are a 2-month-old startup or a 10-year-old well-established Fortune 500 company, cybersecurity setup is necessary for all. By definition, it’s a tool that any organization, from small ones to the oldest ones, should use to fend off the incessant attacks by hackers.

How do you plan a cybersecurity strategy for startups?

Planning a cybersecurity strategy for your startup is crucial. For most startups allocate minimal resources to cybersecurity, making them easy targets.

However, with proper planning, you can strengthen your defenses and safeguard your business. Here are the basic steps to follow in developing an effective security strategy:

  • Understand your cyber threat landscape by gaining insight into potential threats from various sources
  • Assess the spread of your digital footprint and then pragmatically assess the effort required to protect all the different data
  • Assess your cybersecurity maturity and evaluate the impact on your startup’s security program based on varying levels of maturity
  • Design a cyber security architecture by using insights from understanding the threat landscape and assessing cybersecurity maturity
  • Strengthen your technical defenses by implementing various security solutions (For example, firewall or antivirus software)
  • Ensure that you take regular backups of your system so that any important information is kept safe in the event of a system failure or other data loss
  • Take measures to incorporate cybersecurity awareness measures into your company culture
  • Invest in a continuous monitoring solution that scans your network for any vulnerabilities and alerts the administrator for immediate resolution

10 steps to implement cybersecurity measures for startups

The importance of cybersecurity, even for a startup, cannot be overstated. We have developed a step-by-step process gathered from talking to compliance experts in cloud industries and curated it here. Let’s dive in…

Step 1: Conduct a business cyber risk analysis

Start by developing a plan to protect your digital assets while considering the multitude of options from a vulnerability and defense angle.

Now, this is where you need to assess risks from actions like system sabotage or data theft by disgruntled employees.

It doesn’t just stop there; you must examine your security posture, threat level, system vulnerability assessments, and the likelihood of exploitation.

Step 2: Use a firewall

Lots of antivirus programs in the market usually come with built-in internet security and firewall features. These tools help safeguard your networks and devices from various threats.

With such a program in place, you and your employees can avoid downloading malicious actors’ software from cloud security platforms and improve your ability to detect and block malware attacks, phishing attacks, and more.

Step 3: Use multi-factor authentication

Add an extra layer of protection to your accounts using Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). The system not only stores your password but also other ID details. 

So, when you log in next time, it’s not just about the password—it involves a multi-step process, checking those extra details to make sure it’s really you. It’s a smart move to keep your accounts safer than just relying on a password alone!

Step 4: Regularly update your patch software

Install updates promptly to shield your computer, phone, or other digital devices from potential attackers exploiting system vulnerabilities. Attackers may target these weaknesses for months or even years after updates become available.

Software updates not only provide new features but also fix existing problems. This is why you must stay on top of antivirus software and hardware updates. 

Antivirus updates defend against new viruses, while hardware updates enhance your computing experience. Regularly updating benefits your device and routine in numerous ways.

Step 5: Create a secure cloud storage

Why does secure storage matter? It’s because it adds a layer of protection to your data. 

However, just like you control access to your physical networks and devices, you should also limit access to your cloud storage.

Start by only reserving the cloud for files used in team projects or those who require frequent access. 

Most automation software can integrate with your cloud applications. It helps gather evidence and maintain compliance easily. Sprinto is one such compliance automation software that can assist in integrating your cloud apps and streamline your security efforts. For more information, consult with our experts.

Step 6: Educate employees

The next obvious step should be educating your employees on cybersecurity and common security issues. For this to work, find industry and government resources that can help them understand the language of cybersecurity threats.

For example, your employees need to know not to click on any phishing links that they get in their emails, no matter how believable they might be.

Hence, everyone in your company must be on the same page regarding these issues.

Sprinto offers ready-made employee training materials that you can use to educate your employees. Depending on your requirements for cyber security for startups, you can customize the materials.

Step 7: Embrace security in your culture (CEO, CTO, IT)

Embedding a security-conscious culture within your startup is crucial. Your company’s culture sets the tone for years to come, influencing who joins your team, the values they adopt, and the decisions they make daily. 

A culture is intentionally crafted from the founders’ vision. Giants like Google and Facebook incorporated security into their cultures early on, resulting in some of today’s strongest cybersecurity teams. If you believe your company’s mission is significant, showcasing a commitment to security reinforces that notion.

Employees look up to the founders, and if they see the leaders dismissing security policies and circumventing them, the rest may often follow suit.

A better way to do this is to provide consistent cybersecurity training to your employees. offering the best of both worlds. With Sprinto, you get a cloud-focused, jargon-free security training program at no extra cost; it’s bundled into the platform fee. 

Sprinto even simplifies tracking training programs, recording who took them and when. For startups, this ensures a culture of security is not just talked about but actively practiced.

Step 8: Monitor and defend your network

Monitoring and defense should always be a top priority. As you have everything up in the cloud, the devices you use to connect all of them should be under a microscopic eye. How can you achieve that? Well, here are some tips we’ve written below:

  • Make sure to install an antivirus software
  • Add an intrusion detection system to your security stack
  • Use log management to keep a record of all your network activities
  • Invest in a compliance automation platform like Sprinto

Stay ahead with automated continuous compliance.

Step 9: Use strong, complicated passwords

Ensure each team member has a dedicated network account, as this helps track individual activities within the network. Having personal accountability makes it easier to identify errors and security breaches.

Also, educate your team members to use unique, complex, and difficult-to-guess passwords, although this info will be covered in the security training.

For example, one of the best practices is to generate strong passwords like “K$7mP#z!2Bv@X” instead of easily guessable ones like “password123.”

Step 10: Plan for failure

You must have a crucial plan for failure in your cybersecurity strategy. While in Step 1, we discussed creating a Business Cyber Risk Analysis that includes preventive measures and detection plans, it’s equally important to have a robust remediation plan.

Often, businesses prioritize prevention and detection but neglect planning for remediation, even though it’s a low-cost investment.

To stay ahead, you must anticipate these failures and prepare for them. The alternative is a frantic response after each incident, requiring quick thinking and the procurement of resources, which can have long lead times.

Best cybersecurity practices for startups

When you follow the best practices mentioned below, you can fortify your small business against cyber threats and create a safer environment for your company and customers.

1. Update and patch your systems regularly

Often, there’s a misconception that hackers are solely after financial gains. However, the real target is the valuable data containing personal information like credentials, emails, and credit card details.

To thwart cyberattacks effectively, take preventive measures before they escalate. This involves regular updates and patches for your systems and software. After all, you should be mindful of not leaving any openings to cyber attacks.

Good read: Cyber Security Compliance 101: All You Need To Know

2. Keep records

Record-keeping is a favorite of compliance requirements. While it’s a common practice in engineering, it’s equally valuable for compliance purposes for a small startup. Encoding compliance rules into your code is a single source of truth and automatically documents any modifications.

3. Secure what matters the most

As a startup new to cybersecurity, focus on protecting what truly matters. With small teams, limited resources, and minimal time, it’s challenging to fend off every cyber threat. Instead of trying to guard everything, pinpoint your most crucial assets. 

Also, identify the ke­y threats and security dangers the­y encounter. This tactic helps you allot your finance­s, energy, and time to safe­guard what’s truly significant.

4. Establish a cybersecurity environme­nt

Instill a culture of cybersecurity in your startup. Inte­grating security into your company’s core values and e­veryday workings is important.

5. Create a cybe­rsecurity blueprint

For startups venturing into cybersecurity, building a solid defense starts with a clear plan. This should map out your se­curity rules, operations, and mechanisms for re­sponding to threats. 

6. Educate your employees

We already covered this point in the above section, and you may know how important it is. Hence, educate your employees about cybersecurity awareness. 

7. Implement authentication measures

Often, employees in a startup might only rely on traditional username and password login procedures. However, this increases the chances of falling victim to phishing attacks

This is why you need to Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) and single sign-on (SSO) for added security layers. For example, direct your employees to use MFA when accessing sensitive company systems, such as email or confidential accounts.

8. Secure payment gateways

Sometimes, the startup might opt for a basic, unencrypted payment processing system without SSL certification due to limited resources and a desire to minimize upfront costs. However, there are many potential risks associated with insecure transactions.

Hence, ensure the security of your payment gateways to protect customer payment information. For example, use encryption and SSL to safeguard payment transactions made through your website.

Streamline your cybersecurity journey

Challenges you may face while implementing cybersecurity:

Implementing cybersecurity takes work. However, you can take the time to understand the main challenges of cybersecurity to arrive at a solution. Here are some of them:

1. Getting used to the remote workforce

As remote work becomes the new norm, it’s not just the daily commute left behind. Employees are facing a growing challenge – the security of their virtual offices. 

It’s surprisingly easy for cybercriminals to sneak in through the digital back door, especially when fatigue or a lack of awareness takes over.

Therefore, what’s the best strategy to guard remote work? The crucial thing is to employ cloud-based cyber security services. These advanced solutions keep your correlation security of identity, device, and digital cloud.

2. Misunderstanding new security threats

Most companies struggle to cope with the fast-paced changes in the cybersecurity threat space. It’s not just knowing current security trends but we also need to be aware of new threats being developed that make it necessary to stay informed.

If your IT team is up to date on these threats, it becomes easier to protect your networks effectively.

3. Inadequate security protocol efficiency measurement.

Inadequate security protocol efficiency measurement hinders the ability to gauge security effectiveness and prevents continuous improvement in security practices. Utilizing dashboards and relevant metrics is crucial in this regard.

To address this issue, startups should establish efficiency metrics that enable them to evaluate the efficiency of their security measures. These metrics should be key in shaping and enhancing your cybersecurity strategies.

4. Implement BYOD Policy

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies are when a company decides whether employees can or should use their personal devices for work.

And 95% of companies are cool with employees using their devices at work. This means a surprising two out of three employees go rogue, using their personal gadgets at work, regardless of the company’s BYOD policy.

So, what should a good BYOD policy include? Well, a few key things:

  1. Acceptable Use: What can employees do on their personal devices? 
  2. Security Measures: What’s the minimum security required on those devices? 
  3. Company Components: SSL certificates for device authentication 
  4. Company Rights: What can the company do with that device? Like remote wiping for lost or stolen gadgets.

How much does implementing cybersecurity for startups cost?

Implementing cyber security may cost anywhere from $5000 -$25000. On average, allocating around 5.6% to 20% of your IT budget to cybersecurity programs is a good practice. However, these costs can vary depending on the industry you work in, your company size, what services you provide, and to whom.

Here is the breakdown of costs: (this table will be converted into an image)

CostsAmount (USD)
Cybersecurity infrastructure$5000 – $25000
Marketing costs$5000 – $10000
Legal and professional fees$3000 – $12000
Employee training$2000 – $15000
IT support$10000 – $20000
Website design$2000 – $8000
Security auditing$15000 – $20000
IT Administration$1000 – $5000
Compliance solutions$5000 – $25000

Source

Save up to 60% on security audit costs

Top 5 cybersecurity companies your startup should look out for 

From our conversations with users and data based on aggregators, we’ve curated a list of cutting-edge technologies for your startup to keep up with sophisticated security techniques. 

Here are the top 5 cybersecurity startup companies that strengthen security and meet compliance requirements:

1. Sprinto

Sprinto is a compliance automation platform that offers a wide range of services designed to enable an organization to meet its cybersecurity needs. Users can leverage the power of automation across functions such as vulnerability scanning, control monitoring, control customization for enhanced security features, and more.

Sprinto is an all-in-one solution designed for cloud-hosted businesses and startups. It supports 15+ frameworks such as SOC 2, ISO 27001, and GDPR and aims to accelerate the certification process for startups making cybersecurity accessible. 

How does Sprinto work?

Sprinto works with any type of cloud setup, making it easy to keep an eye on risks and controls for all your entities from just a single dashboard. With Sprinto, security standards are higher, so you can stay compliant all the time and keep your operations running smoothly. 

Key features:

  • Leverages a risk library that measures both quantitative and qualitative aspects of your security posture
  • Assign and manage compliance and security tasks based on roles within the startup 
  • Access security and privacy policy templates specifically designed for cloud-based operations
  • Establish proof of compliance with a complementary Trust Center page where you can publish various security certifications
  • Enable training modules for employees with built-in modules on network security and privacy

2. Cado Security 

Cado Security is a new player that focuses on cybersecurity. It helps security teams deal with cyber threats in the cloud. Their main goal is to make it easy and fast for security teams to spot and deal with cyber threats swiftly. 

Cado does this by using the power and speed of the cloud itself. Their platform automatically collects and processes detailed data from cloud services, containers, and serverless setups. This means security teams can respond quickly to any issues in the cloud. 

How does Cado Security work?

The Cado Platform works by automating the entire process of investigating incidents in the cloud. It starts from collecting and processing data all the way to figuring out the main cause of the problem and containing it. This makes handling and responding to incidents easier for your security team. 

Key features:

  • Provide a deeper understanding of risks across various elements like cloud servers, containers, and serverless setups
  • Ensure immediate preservation of forensic data after even detection
  • Simplify multi-cloud complexities and secure access to data from multiple apps
  • Tackle and respond to threats across different cloud platforms from within a single dashboard 

3. Beyond Identity

Beyond Identity offers the world’s most secure way to log in. They help businesses and startups control their digital identities securely and remove the obstacles between cybersecurity, identities, and device management. Their top solutions include zero trust authentication, phishing resident MFA, and passwordless MFA.

How does Beyond Identity work?

Beyond Identity uses well-known FIDO (Fast Identity Online) protocols to amp up security when you log in. They rely on public key cryptography to make sure your authentication is super strong and your privacy stays protected

Key features:

  • Ensure cyber insurance coverage and meet compliance requirements to shield your startup from potential threats
  • Enable continuous validation and monitoring of user and device activity
  • Gain insights in real-time, connecting systems for complete cybersecurity oversight
  • Foster visibility and risk assessment by running queries on devices to promptly identify and assess potential risks

Also check: Best Compliance Monitoring Tools in 2024

4. Cyble 

Cyble is a next-generation AI-powered cybersecurity company that specializes in analyzing and neutralizing cyber threats. Cyble’s top team includes some of the brightest minds in cybersecurity. 

They’ve worked with big companies, smaller ones, and even government groups, bringing tons of experience to the table. Their top solutions are vulnerability management, dark web monitoring, cyber threat intelligence, etc.

How does Cyble work?

The powerful AI algorithms in Cyble tirelessly identify, analyze, and mitigate cyber threats. This continuous monitoring maintains the security of your operations around the clock.

Key features:

  • Keep a constant watch on potential security threats with zero-day vulnerability monitoring 
  • Combat online fraud and cybercrime with Cyble’s takedown service
  • Manage risks effectively with integrated risk management and anti-malware security measures

Automate your way to cybersecurity success.

5. Cybereason

Cybereason is a future-ready cyber security platform that has vast experience in military and enterprise security. Their top solutions include incident response, security assessment, and more.

How does Cybereason work? 

Cybereason analyzes 9.8 petabytes of threat intel every week. This helps them uncover the entire story of an attack, from its starting point to all the endpoints and users it affects.

Key features:

  • Enable swift response to incidents and gain the ability to act and react to security incidents
  • Add an extra layer of security to shield systems against ransomware
  • Consolidate information from multiple sources and cross-examine them through machine learning analysis with Cybereason’s threat intelligence
  • Safeguard endpoint controls, align security controls, and meet compliance needs

What next?

The positive side behind hackers is that there is always a silver lining. The consistent fear of being hacked looms over your startup and makes it too conscious about cybersecurity. 

As far as hacking is concerned, it’s smart to keep your fingers crossed for the best while preparing for anything on the lower shelf. You must also keep your company in the best shape without the fear of hacking always looming over you. 

Remember: hackers do not discriminate; if they did, then SMBS would be their favorite.

Enter Sprinto! An all-in-one­ fix, offering a single place for all your se­curity needs. You can incorporate eve­rything from current compliance checks to automatic e­valuations and cross-check against multiple standards and models.

So, are you ke­en to make your cyberse­curity management bette­r?

FAQs

Why should I care about cybersecurity for my startup?

Take your startup’s cybersecurity issue seriously because even a small cyber attack or data breach can generate chaotic results. This is true whether you have a startup or an internationally established corporation that makes billions.

What are the three main goals of cybersecurity?

The three main goals of cybersecurity are:

  • Confidentiality: This should be where only authorized persons can access data.
  • Integrity: Here, the data is honest and thorough. It should not be altered by any user who is denied its access.
  • Availability: This ensures that accessibility to your data is available anytime and anywhere.

What is cybersecurity for startups?

Cybersecurity is important to startups or small brick-and-mortar businesses. Its goal? Shield these businesses from hidden hackers. Why? Hacke­rs believe that such places don’t value security.

Who invented cybersecurity?

In 1971, Bob Thomas inve­nted cybersecurity. Surprisingly, he­ made a virus to test the se­curity system. 

Who controls cyber security?

The primary controller of cyberse­curity is CISA. They carry out the cyberse­curity operations, establishing partnerships.

Meeba Gracy

Meeba Gracy

Meeba, an ISC2-certified cybersecurity specialist, passionately decodes and delivers impactful content on compliance and complex digital security matters. Adept at transforming intricate concepts into accessible insights, she’s committed to enlightening readers. Off the clock, she can be found with her nose in the latest thriller novel or exploring new haunts in the city.

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