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Discover the 5 mistakes made by busy entrepreneurs that can compromise your startup's security and learn how to avoid them.

The Importance of Strong Passwords

One of the most common and dangerous habits that can compromise your startup's security is the use of weak or easily guessable passwords. A strong password is essential to protect your sensitive data and prevent unauthorized access. It should be at least 16 characters long, include a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid using common words or personal information that can be easily guessed or brute-forced. Employing this strategy makes it enormously more difficult to crack your password through brute force attack. Never reuse the same across different accounts. If a hacker compromises your password at a site with weaker security, they often will use automated tools to scan across the internet to see where else your password has been used and gain access. A solution for using many different passwords is to use a reputable password management tool, such as Keeper, Nordpass, or 1Password.

Another important aspect of password security is implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA adds an extra layer of protection by requiring users to provide additional verification, such as an authentication message sent to their mobile device. This significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access even if someone manages to obtain your password.

Neglecting Regular Software Updates

Failing to regularly update your software and applications is another deadly habit that can compromise your startup's security. Software updates often include important security patches and bug fixes that address vulnerabilities exploited by hackers. By neglecting these updates, you leave your systems and data exposed to potential threats.

Make it a priority to regularly check for updates and install them as soon as they become available. Enable automatic updates whenever possible to ensure that your software is always up to date.

Done for the night? Take a few seconds to restart your computer to allow the installation of recently downloaded updates.

Lack of Employee Training and Awareness

Your employees can unknowingly become the weakest link in your startup's security if they are not properly trained and aware of potential risks. Many security breaches occur due to human error, such as clicking on malicious links or falling for phishing scams.

Invest in comprehensive security training for all employees to educate them about common threats and best practices for maintaining a secure work environment. Teach them how to identify suspicious emails or websites, how to create strong passwords, and the importance of regularly updating software. Encourage a culture of vigilance and provide ongoing awareness campaigns to keep security top of mind. There are several automated employee training solutions that are reasonably priced for small companies, including KnowBe4 and Wizer.

Insufficient Data Backup and Recovery Plan

Data loss can be catastrophic for any startup, especially if you don't have a proper backup and recovery plan in place. Accidental deletion, hardware failure, or a security breach can lead to irreversible loss of valuable data.

Having a cloud based IT system does not mean all your data is sufficiently protected from cyber attacks that manipulate or destroy data.  Ensure that ALL your data is backed up by multiple means and locations, and that the backups are immutable, meaning they can't be modified once they are stored.  An increasingly popular solution is from Rubrik. Regularly test your backup and recovery processes to ensure they are working effectively and that you can quickly restore your data in the event of a disaster.

Consider implementing a disaster recovery plan that outlines the steps to be taken in case of a major data loss or system failure. This plan should include procedures for notifying stakeholders, restoring systems, and minimizing downtime.

Bypassing Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a powerful security measure that adds an extra layer of protection to your startup's systems and accounts. However, some startups may overlook or bypass this important security feature due to convenience or lack of awareness.

Bypassing MFA significantly increases the risk of unauthorized access and compromises the overall security of your startup. It is crucial to enable MFA for all your accounts, especially those that contain sensitive information or have administrative privileges. Encourage employees to use MFA for their personal accounts as well, as compromised personal accounts can be used as a stepping stone to gain access to corporate systems.

Implementing MFA may require additional setup and may slightly increase the login process time, but the added security is well worth the effort. Make it a mandatory practice within your startup to use MFA for all accounts and regularly review and update your MFA settings to ensure optimal protection.