When you’re planning to launch a startup, or are already taking the first steps towards expanding your new business, one of your most urgent priorities should be establishing a comprehensive data security solution. Establishing the best data security practices and full cloud data security will give you a clear competitive edge over your competitors, save you a lot of time and stress – and may even save your startup from bankruptcy.

Startups are exciting, high energy projects. It’s easy to become over focused on conforming to your business plan and achieving initial short term business goals, to the detriment of building rock solid infrastructure foundations. If you’re operating with a limited budget and time window, need to keep investors happy, or to establish a brand or product ahead of your competitors, there’s always a temptation to cut corners. One pitfall is to attach a lower priority to the implementation of effective data security and the security best practices for your industry.

Many startups operate initially with small teams and may lack specialist knowledge when it comes to cybersecurity and data security. If you’re hiring IT consultants or cybersecurity freelancers, you may not be getting the best advice, or the optimal DLP solutions. If you’re not an IT professional yourself, it’s extremely difficult to evaluate third party recommendations and identify what are really the best data security practices – as opposed to what’s merely convenient and profitable for the seller.

Why Startups Need Comprehensive Data Security

There are three main reasons why startups need to implement the best practices for data security. The first is that like all businesses, startups are subject to privacy regulations. What were formerly data security best practices guidelines are now non-negotiable requirements. Regulators – and the courts – impose tough financial penalties for data breaches. The cumulative effect of fines, class action lawsuits and loss of business due to reputation damage breaks over 60% of established businesses that suffer data breaches. The effect on the average startup is likely to be catastrophic.

The second reason that many startups require unbeatable data security and the best security practices is to protect their own confidential data. If you have a revolutionary new product, groundbreaking technology or have discovered an unexploited market niche, you need to protect your data. Industrial espionage is a reality and there are plenty of competitors (particularly in other countries) who will pay hackers to steal your ideas and products. If you want to survive and prosper, you need to implement data security best practices across the board, as well as full cloud data security before you launch your business.

The third reason why startups need to master customer data security best practices, from Day One is that they are already mandated requirements for any company that wants to work in regulated industries like the Department of Defense supply chain, the financial sector and the healthcare sector. It’s likely that other industries will adopt the stringent cybersecurity standards of these sectors as awareness grows. If your startup is compliant with all current best practices for customer data security, you will be better placed to bid for future contracts.

5 Best Data Security Practices for Startups

Establish a Corporate Cybersecurity Culture

When you’re launching a startup, putting together your team and hiring your first employees, you have a unique opportunity to implement a cybersecurity culture from the ground up. Many major companies struggle to even create effective cyber security education and awareness programs for their employees. A genuine corporate culture of proactive cybersecurity is entirely beyond their reach. You can get things right from Day One by educating your staff and building the concept of data security best practices into your company’s DNA.

Implement Effective Physical Controls

When you create a corporate cybersecurity culture, ensure that it includes effective physical controls over workspaces and devices. Data security best practices include many basics that are often overlooked. Lock workstations down so that they can’t be removed and use lockable device cases for hard drives. A regularly updated BIOS password will reduce the threat of data theft using removable media. Consult with security experts to devise physical safeguards and deterrents against industrial espionage and data theft. Threats include smartphones with high resolution cameras and the theft of discarded or trashed documents and hard drives.

Understand the Threats and Stay Updated

Many CEOs and board members (and investors) only have a hazy concept of the cyberthreats that their startups potentially face. The cyberthreat landscape is continually evolving and malicious actors are quick to exploit new technologies to identify weaknesses. You need to understand the full spectrum of threats including hacking, phishing, colleague impersonation, loss and theft of devices containing hard drives, rogue employees who steal and sell data, and the direct suborning of vulnerable employees by malicious actors.

Never Rely Entirely on Your DLP Project

A DLP (data loss prevention) project or solution is usually a patchwork of softwares and cybersecurity tools that is designed to either prevent data loss or rapidly alert IT managers to data breaches after the event. A typical DLP project includes a standard firewall that can verify or disallow traffic, NAC (network access control) that can exclude non-compliant endpoint devices from your network, and proxy servers to evaluate and filter traffic. The concept of a modular DLP solution is already obsolete and is simply an interesting challenge for hackers to overcome.

Always Use Data Encryption

When you devise a cyber security solution for your startup, don’t work on the basis that data breaches may occur. Work on the basis that sensitive data breaches will occur. Automatic encryption is increasingly seen as being at the top of the list of best practices for data security. The encryption needs to be multi-channel and also include shadow cloud data security. If/when you experience a data breach (or simple data loss through human error) the compromised data will be unreadable to unauthorized parties.

When Data Security Best Practices Become a Problem

Guidelines for best data security practices don’t always allow for the exigencies of launching a startup. When you’re creating a business from scratch – and often on a budget – you need flexibility. The best practices for customer data security can rapidly become a hindrance if permissions and procedures impact negatively on your workflows while you are in a development or rapid growth phase. You need a preemptive cyber security solution that safeguards sensitive client data and your own confidential data, but allows your staff to get the job done with minimal disruption.

Data security best practices guidelines may not match your immediate needs, or your iT capabilities – or your budget. Multi-factor authentication may be beyond your reach and you may not be ready for penetration tests and vulnerability assessments. Achieving comprehensive data security and security best practices can be a daunting prospect for startup owners who really just want to break into the market and sell their product or deliver their new service. There’s a tendency to overcomplicate cybersecurity and DLP solutions, when simplicity is the way ahead.

Actifile Encryption Software for Startups

Actifile’s revolutionary encryption software is ideal for startups. The software radically simplifies the whole issue of data security and DLP implementation by identifying sensitive data and automatically encrypting it. Any concerns you have about the efficacy of firewalls, antiviruses, device and system security, proxy servers, and administrative controls are mitigated by the knowledge that all your sensitive data is accounted for and is encrypted. Even if a data breach occurs, your data is completely unreadable – and entirely useless – to any unauthorized recipient.

How Actifile Protects Your Startup

Actifile is designed to be ‘plug and play’ software. Any IT manager can initiate the software and continue to use it without specialist training or reliance on an outside expert. Actifile carries out a silent scan of your entire IT ecosystem, checking all channels, shadow cloud, remote devices and endpoints for active and dormant sensitive data. It maps the data and then quantifies it. You can immediately see the potential fiscal cost of any data breach in US dollars or other major currencies.

Once your sensitive data is mapped and quantified, you can make an informed, risk aware decision and prioritize encryption according to your workflows. Automatic one-click encryption is available on a file by file basis, and across a selection of channels. You can opt for immediate encryption, or schedule delayed encryption, with equally flexible decryption.

Actifile Partnerships for Startups

The cyberthreat landscape is constantly evolving. The best way to guarantee long term security for your startup is in partnership with the cybersecurity experts. A strategic partnership with Actifile does a lot more than deliver ongoing round the clock security, it’s also a great tool for business growth. Learn more about the benefits of an Actifile partnership and schedule a free automated scan for your startup. The whole process, from initiation to mapping, quantification and one -click encryption can take as little as 72 hours – and will keep you safe from then on !