Cybersecurity Best Practices for Remote Start-up Operations

Many startups are most likely to be victims of cyber-attacks simply because they think they are not potential targets for hackers. They may not boost a considerable amount of money that interests these hackers, and even the value of their data is not of any interest to them. Or so they may think. This is the most common form of pitfall these start-ups fall into.

In reality, though, hackers target such companies because they know they do not have the:

  1. The proper level of cybersecurity best policies.
  2. Properly trained and experienced cybersecurity personnel.
  3. Enough budget to invest in the best cybersecurity protection mechanisms.

Therefore, you should read this blog post if you are a start-up intending to ramp up your cybersecurity protection. Within this post, you will learn the various practices that, if you implement them, you can be safe and secure. These tactics have been tried and tested by many companies and recommended by most top cybersecurity professionals.

Cybersecurity Tips to Help Your New Company Stay Safe

Here is a practical guide on what you need to know and implement within your company’s cybersecurity apparatus, to beat hackers and deny them entry into your company’s networks and systems. Remember, some start-ups have been forced to shut down because of massive cyber-attacks that crippled them and made them incapable of bouncing back. Consider the following tips if you do not want to be in such a mess.

  1. Create uniform security practices and policies

Your team(s) should adhere to a singular set of things when handling security best policies and practices. You may have to consult a cyber-security consultant to create these policies to ensure you can easily assign responsibility to each person in your team and make them responsible in case of an attack. Document these policies and ensure everyone has access to them and can easily refer to them in case of doubt.

Such policies can help you cover such areas as:

  • Backup and media storage
  • Data protection
  • Remote access control
  • Information disposal,
  • Remote system management

These policies will ensure your entire organization similarly does things, and there is always a connected effort in ensuring you are safe and how you can identify points of breach.

  1. Educate and train your team(s)

Your employees can easily be weak points that can be targeted and exploited to gain entry into your system and networks. However, if your teams are adequately trained and always know the most current cybersecurity tactics, hackers will find it hard to breach your organization. If your employees lack such training, they are most likely unaware of their vulnerability.

You must invest in regularly training your teams and ensuring they are always aware of the company's cybersecurity policies and best practices. They should also be aware of the impact of not adhering to these policies so that they can always be vigilant.

  1. Implement VPN and 2-factor authentication features

Especially in the case of remote workers, you should consider using a VPN, which will encrypt the data between your network and that of your remote workers. This means that no one else can access this data apart from you and anyone else on the same network as you and your teams. Having a 2-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to specific applications that you use for work daily. 

Having a 2-factor authentication element is especially advisable when using email accounts which are mostly targeted for the crucial information that is always shared there in the form of memos, newsletters, announcements, and any other critical communication. All your employees should use these two regularly to access company information to keep themselves safe.

  1. Use a password manager

One of the biggest cybersecurity threats comes from weak passwords. Weak passwords are easy to crack since they come from common or basic words or names. Employees should avoid using the following as their passwords for any sights whatsoever:

  • The words “Password”
  • Their names
  • Their favorite colors
  • Their spouses' names
  • Their birth towns/cities, etc.

These are so easy to get that any hacker intent on breaching your organization can easily acquire online through malicious means.

Instead of using such weak passwords, use an online password manager that will:

  • Suggest complex passwords, 
  • Monitor websites that have your passwords and inform you whenever these websites suffer breaches
  • Offer various departments within your organization of possible attempts to crack passwords by outside parties.

This will be much easier than writing your passwords on paper and making them easily accessible to people who may steal them. The password manager will also make your password protection tactics easy, seamless, and automatic to the point you do not have to stress yourself so much whenever coming up with a new password or even protect it.

  1. Regularly update your operating systems and software

Most software companies that sell operating systems regularly check their products for possible vulnerabilities and develop new patches to help prevent possible breaches from such vulnerabilities. It is, however, upon you, the end user, to ensure you allow these patches to run on your machines and keep your data safe regularly.

The same is true about almost all software that we use. Hackers can use dubious means of accessing your systems and networks by exploiting a vulnerability in these products. You therefore need to schedule occasional downtimes to allow your IT team to run these patches and ensure you are using up-to-date features that offer the best and most current security features.

  1. Select software and hardware with in-built security features

Whenever deciding on which tools to use for internal company communication, for example, make sure you are using tools that have in-built security features that keep your chats secure and encrypted. Tools such as Slack and Trello, and even Whatsapp offer end users top-tier security layers that will keep communication safe and private to only those involved in that line of communication. 

Such tools enable you to keep your communication, data, and networks safe from hackers who may target weak links in your communication apparatus. 

  1. Use a firewall

A firewall will enable you to keep an eye on what is coming into your networks and what is leaving. This will help you have oversight over your network at all times and detect any sort of unusual behavior, such as an unusually high transfer of big data. You can then flag this behavior and investigate before assuming all is well. 

A firewall can also enable you to keep important information away from the access of certain parties. Such parties will also be unable to access your networks, keeping your company safe.

  1. Encrypt essential data and communication

This is especially advisable for companies that use cloud systems to receive, collect, store, transmit, store, and dispose of their data. This means the data is outside the company’s network and will likely be hijacked by hackers. Encryption comes in handy in such a case as it makes it extremely hard for hackers to come into contact with your data. 

Here are some of the top encryption programs top companies use to safeguard their data:

  • Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)
  • Triple Data Encryption Standard (DES)
  • Blowfish
  • Twofish
  • Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC)

Choose the most suitable to your organizational needs and it will help you to be in full control of your cloud-based data.

  1. Consider using a cloud-based system

Here are some of the most common and superior security features that most cloud-based systems will offer you:

  • Advanced security features -  Most top cloud service providers like Amazon invest significantly in top security features that are beyond the capabilities of most individual companies. Such features include rest and transit encryption, multi-factor authentication, intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS), network segmentation, and more.
  • Expertise and resources - These companies also have within their teams dedicated and qualified security teams that specialize in maintaining and improving the security of their services. 
  • Scalability and flexibility - Cloud-based systems can easily scale rapidly to accommodate your company's growth. Therefore, You can adopt new security measures as this growth suits your new needs.

These are some of the most common advantages enabling startups to upgrade their cybersecurity game.

  1. Conduct system vulnerability checks

You can also be proactive by not waiting for a cyberattack to happen so you can know that you have vulnerabilities within your systems, networks, and even organization. Conducting regular system vulnerability audits will help identify such vulnerabilities way ahead and make sure you patch them up. In some regions, this is a strict government requirement that all companies, big and small, should adhere to consistently.

  1. Have a cyber attack response plan

It is tough to prevent any cyber breach, big or small. Instead, you should be proactive and ready for worst-case scenarios. Better yet, you can create a well-laid-out bounce-back plan that will enable you to suffer the most minor damage and ensure business continuity within the shortest time. 

This should ideally be a plan that is the product of regular checks and adjustments that consider changes in company policies and even infrastructure. Such a plan will enable you to keep the business running while simultaneously investigating and patching up vulnerabilities that may have brought the breach.

You should have a well-written plan in place and easily accessible to the right people. Ensure everyone involved in the bounce-back process is also aware of the plan and their role in ensuring it’s successfully implemented in case of a breach.

  1. Regularly conduct penetration testing

You can also ideally hire a cybersecurity vulnerability tester who can try to breach your company’s systems and networks. The idea behind this is to identify the vulnerabilities ahead of time proactively. The tester should ideally be an ethical hacker or cybersecurity professional who knows the most common hacking methods and mimics the same while testing the security of your systems and networks. 

After this, they should generate a report listing all possible points of breach and recommendations on what to do about them and as proof of compliance in case required by the government.

  1. Frequent monitoring of network security

Most of the top companies use breach detection systems that monitor networks and systems 24/7 and make sure there are no malicious attempts from people outside your network to gain access. Such systems nowadays use artificial intelligence (AI),  which makes it much easier and automatic, unlike people doing this alone. 

These systems monitor your systems continuously and flag any malicious attempts to access your system. They then collect information about such attempts and notify system administrators about this behavior. Such sophisticated systems help ensure that your organization is always protected and you are always aware of any malicious attempts to access your systems.

  1. Proper disposal of obsolete devices

This may probably be something that you may have never considered a point of cybersecurity vulnerability. It may even surprise you that you may destroy the device but not its information. You should therefore consider the following ways of device disposal as they are more likely to ensure all the data in the devices is efficiently destroyed.

  • Acid bath - It may seem extreme, but dipping your old devices in solid acids such as hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid, is a proper way of properly getting rid of such devices. The acid will corrode the devices and burn them to the last molecule.
  • Incineration - You can alternatively subject such devices to extremely high temperatures, such as in a furnace, to melt them down alongside any data in them.
  • Crushing - You can also use a hydraulic press to crush your old devices by subjecting them to extreme pressure that will disintegrate them into tiny pieces.
  1. Get rid of old files of no longer needed

If you have files in your computer that are no longer of use, the best possible case is to totally erase them from the hard drive and not delete them from the desktop. In other words, moving a file from the desktop of the hard drive to the recycle bin does not cut it. Technically, hackers can still access that file by using highly sophisticated software to read your hard drive. 

So how can you remove files from a computer permanently? The simplest method is to use gibberish to fill the space left by the deleted file. You can reformat the drive after deleting a file from the recycle bin to ensure that most software cannot recover it. However, you'll still need to repeatedly overwrite that region with randomized characters, like in the Gutmann approach, to eliminate any chance of recovery.

  1. Understand phishing emails

You should also be aware of phishing emails and how you can quickly identify a phishing email, and also the steps you need to take to raise awareness of the same to the IT department. Your organization should also be aware of the same and ensure all emails are valid before replying. 

  1. For data access, use least-privilege protocols

You can ideally categorize information according to the level of risk involved. You can categorize information into five categories, namely:

  • Sensitive
  • Confidential
  • Private
  • Proprietary
  • Public

Using such criteria will help you know how, when, and who to assign certain information. This move will help you know who has access to specific files and who should not have access. This will help you keep your company safe by keeping sensitive information safe. People will only get access on a “need-to-know basis,” limiting the number of unnecessary people viewing documents they should not. 

  1. Avoid leaving your devices unattended

You should make sure all your employees are aware of this and practice it at all times, irrespective of the relationship with the person sitting next to them. This follows up on the previous point where everyone has access to certain specific information meant for only them and no one else. Ensuring this policy is followed to the letter will ensure no one comes into direct contact with information they should not be accessing.

  1. Define PII standards

PII stands for “personally identifiable information,” which is the personal information of your employees. Examples of such information include but are not limited to

  • Name of spouse
  • Social security numbers
  • Tax information
  • Address
  • Biometrics

This is sensitive information that your HR team should make sure is always safe and away from the reach of anyone not involved in HR processes. Hackers can use such information to blackmail individual employees or even companies as a whole, or worst-case scenario, hackers can use this critical information to gain access to company systems. 

By defining these standards, you will be able to make sure everyone working for you understands the severity of such information to the well-being of the company and their personal lives.

  1. Observe the activity of both privileged and third-party users

It is always good to do due diligence and ensure everyone is doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing once they have access to your systems. This ensures everyone is always on the right lane, and you can always observe and flag irregular behaviors likely to compromise your cybersecurity. 

Make sure people outside your organization have access to only what they are supposed to be helping you with and nothing more. Also, ensure the ones working from within your company always maintain good behavior while logged into your network. 

Start protecting your company today

Cybersecurity is an ever-changing landscape that is currently integral to the survival, growth, or even downfall of your company. It is, however, upon you as the owner of your business to always make sure you are taking wise and proactive measures to prevent hackers from ever gaining access to your networks and even ruining your company's credibility. Therefore, you need to make a significant investment in this sector and ensure it’s a top priority issue.

At HireMango, we help companies like yours hire the right talent and get them through the door so you can focus on other top-priority aspects of growing your business. We have a huge database of top talent from across the globe who can help your company grow immensely. Contact us today on our website and let us know what exactly you want, and we will take it from there.


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