Startups are typically too small to have someone on staff dedicated specifically to security matters, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t at risk. In some cases, their small size even makes them a target as hackers/burglars realize that security standards may be more lax.
Don’t let the size of your company or lack of commercial security knowledge keep you from putting proper protection in place. With a thorough risk assessment and some thoughtful planning, your startup can position itself to scale securely. Here’s what you need to get started.
Small Business Risk Assessment
When just starting out, it can be difficult to gauge what your security needs will be. Begin with an assessment of assets, threats and risk tolerance. Ask yourself:
- How much risk am I comfortable with? As a startup, resources are limited and removing all business vulnerabilities may prove to be an unjustified investment. Get a pulse on how much risk your business can tolerate.
- What are my greatest assets? For some businesses, it may be customer data. For others, retail merchandise or electronic equipment. Know what matters to you most.
- Who has access to those assets? In addition to your own employees, consider building managers, cleaning crews, other company’s employees (if in a shared space / incubator), and third-party vendors.
- Where and how are assets stored? Are they housed onsite, on a company server or in the cloud? Are they accessed in-person, via desktop, on mobile, via BYO devices?
- Which regulations must my building and data comply with? Common examples include HIPAA, PCI and local fire codes.
- What are the company’s growth projections? Think specifically about number of employees, building/office size and number of locations. This will let you build a security solution that can evolve with you.
Startup Security Plan
Armed with the information above, you can then map out an ideal security plan that balances risks against your budget. Work with an outside security firm to determine:
- Physical security safeguards. Depending on your office size and setup, this could include video surveillance systems, access control, lighting, environmental hazard detection and more. It will likely also include basic protections like proper locks on doors and windows.
- IT security requirements. The more sensitive your data, the stricter you’ll want to lock it down. A provider can help you with everything from securing your Wi-Fi connection to installing business alarm systems and intrusion detection systems (IDS) for more advanced business security monitoring.
- Employee training. Learn how to best educate your staff on security policies and technology, as well as what to do in emergency situations.
While there is no cookie-cutter approach to startup security, a trusted partner can help you work through your organization’s individual nuances to develop a plan that meets your needs.
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