How to protect your startup from cyber attack

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With 85 per cent of cyber attacks directed at startups, protecting your business is more important than ever.

The figures come from security firm ThreatMetrix, which says cybercrime attacks increased by 50 per cent in the second quarter of this year, with startups considered especially easy prey for hackers.

“If you are a startup owner, your priority is probably the growth of your company. You are dealing with long working hours, payroll and many hassles that are a part of building your own business. Most likely, cybersecurity is not on top of your mind­ unless something happens that makes you realise how important it is to protect your sensitive business information right from the start,” says Marty P Kamden, chief marketing officer (CMO) of virtual private network (VPN) service provider NordVPN.

There are, however, some common sense solutions that every startup owner should know to keep their business safe online.

Use only https URL

“Make sure all websites that you give your data to have the secure https URL. This means that it is a secure protocol and your data is encrypted properly,” says Kamden.

Use a VPN

Unsurprisingly, Kamden recommends using a VPN, which connects you to the internet through an encrypted tunnel.

“VPN server acts as a relay between the internet and a company¹s private network, so nobody can see what data is being shared over the internet,” he said.

Avoid downloading files from unknown senders

“The rule is simple: if you are not familiar with the sender, better don¹t click to download any attachments or any links they might send,” Kamden says.

Update your firewall

“Most systems have an automatically installed firewall, just make sure you follow up with its regular updates.”

Use anti-virus

“Use an updated virus protection to make sure your system is protected from malware such as malvertising (advertisement online with malicious codes).”

Strong passwords

Kamden says perhaps the most basic requirement for any online account setup is the use of strong passwords.

“Weak passwords make it simple for hackers to break into your system and cause severe damage.”

Update your operating system

It might sound simple and easy to do, but too often it happens that people ignore pop-up reminders for software updates.

“However, it’s one of the most important things to do with a computer, as the updates fix security vulnerabilities and system bugs,” Kamden says.

Secure your mobile

“If you are happy that your system is now secure, you might be forgetting one important part – your mobile devices,” says Kamden. “You probably store important passwords on your smartphone and other sensitive information, therefore, don¹t forget to encrypt your phone either.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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