The importance of data security for startups

Published by Emre Baran on August 21, 2023
The importance of data security for startups

The digital revolution has brought incredible opportunities, but it has also exposed us to increasing cyber threats. Cyber-attacks are on the rise globally, with an alarming 60% of European SMEs closing within six months of an attack due to the financial losses they cannot afford.

Hackers target startups because of their vulnerable security measures and overlooked system vulnerabilities. It's not just about your information—it's the sensitive personal data of your customers and suppliers, who may represent larger companies with valuable assets.

The Open Worldwide Application Security Project (OWASP), a non-profit foundation dedicated to enhancing software security, is a beacon in this scenario. The foundation's Top 10 list serves as a benchmark for assessing web application security. For the past two years, a specific variant of Broken Access Control has ranked highest as a concern, in which unauthorised users can access objects that should be off-limits to them due to inadequate authorisation checks.

One of the methodologies that has become a fundamental model of network cybersecurity is the "zero trust" strategy. This model aims to secure connections by verifying identity and individual authorisation. It's about not trusting anything inside or outside the system and verifying everything.

Adopting a zero-trust strategy can seem daunting, particularly when many efforts are pointed towards growth. However, it's about taking small, manageable steps towards a more secure future. Start by identifying your most sensitive data and implementing stricter access controls. Then, gradually extend these controls across your organisation.

At Cerbos, we understand the significance of streamlined authorisation processes in driving startup growth towards enterprise readiness. Through implementing robust access controls that restrict sensitive data to only authorised personnel, startups can effectively mitigate the risk of data breaches and cultivate trust among their customers. This trust acts as a catalyst for increased customer loyalty, propelling business expansion and ultimately positioning startups for enterprise success.

I will note that implementing effective authorisation is not without its challenges. It requires a deep understanding of your business processes and the data you hold. It also requires a commitment to ongoing monitoring and management, to ensure that access controls remain effective as your startup grows and evolves. Look to use a platform that makes it easy to implement fine-grained access controls, and gives you the tools you need to protect your data and unlock growth.

There are, of course, other ways you can keep data safe within your startup. Encryption is a crucial process of converting data into a code to prevent unauthorised access. Firewalls and Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) monitor and control network traffic based on predetermined security rules. Regular security audits can help identify potential vulnerabilities in your system, and employee training can ensure that all employees are aware of the latest threats and know how to handle sensitive data correctly.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is another security system that requires more than one method of authentication to verify the user’s identity. Regular software updates and patch management are crucial in protecting against known vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit. Let's not forget about having an incident response plan in place for when a security breach does occur, which can help minimise damage and recovery time.

Data backup and recovery are also essential. Regular backups ensure that, in the event of a data loss incident, your startup can recover quickly. If your startup develops software, it’s crucial to incorporate security from the earliest stages of development. This includes practices like code review, static code analysis, and penetration testing. If your startup relies on third-party vendors for certain services, it’s particularly important to ensure that these vendors also follow strict security practices.

Data security is not just a necessity for startups - it's an opportunity. Implementing effective authorisation allows startups to protect their data, build trust with their customers, and unlock new opportunities for growth. It’s a way to turn a challenge into a competitive advantage. As we navigate the digital revolution, let's not forget the importance of data security. Let's make it a priority, not an afterthought; the future of our startups may just depend on it.


Book a free Policy Workshop to discuss your requirements and get your first policy written by the Cerbos team