How to start protecting your startup from cyber attacks

Cybersecurity threats are continually evolving and reshaping the business landscape. Beyond affecting your ability to conduct business, breaches can compromise intellectual property, and employee and customer information—and cause lasting legal and reputational damage.

As attacks grow in frequency and sophistication, small organizations and early-stage startups are becoming the key targets for cyber criminals. Small and medium-sized businesses account for over 70% of data breaches—and that number is expected to rise.

Many early-stage companies are open to attack because they don’t fully understand their cybersecurity posture or which threats their organization is most vulnerable to.

Why does cybersecurity matter for startups?

Intellectual property

As a tech startup, you most certainly have IP that hackers want to access. You hold new, innovative ideas and technology that both cyber criminals and state-sponsored organizations want.

Third-party vendors

Hackers may use you as a small fish to get to the big fish. Weaknesses in your system create great entry points for accessing larger networks, which places you in hackers’ strategic criminal planning. This also works the other way around, with hackers exploiting third-party vendors to breach your systems.

Lack of financial resources

Hackers take advantage of the absence of resources allocated to cybersecurity. Distributing resources is already a balancing act for startups facing tight budgets and stakeholder scrutiny. Knowing what should be prioritized and what can wait until more finances are secured leaves small businesses unsure of where cybersecurity should rank on the list.


If you are seeking funding for your startup, a cyber breach of any type will not be appeal to investors. Articulating your cybersecurity strategy and how you are protecting your crown jewels will, however, reflect well on you.

What should you do to mitigate your risk?

  1. Evaluate your risk and weaknesses by conducting a maturity threat assessment.

Periodically review your controls (including your policies and technology) to determine whether they’re suitable and effective for your enterprise profile.

  1. Establish effective policies and procedures.

Align your organization with applicable privacy laws, and create comprehensive privacy protection rules and best practices for all team members.

  1. Create (and test!) an incident response plan.

Ensure everyone understands how to identify a breach, who to communicate with about a known or suspected breach, how to contain the breach and what to do in the aftermath.

  1. Penetration-test your systems (networks, wireless, applications, mobile).

Proactively hunt for vulnerabilities in your technology systems to understand the effectiveness of your cyber controls and the potential damage of a breach.

  1. Manage your third-party vendors.

Understanding how any arm’s-length organization defends your data and liability, and how they will protect you in the event their systems are breached will ensure you are a step ahead.

Implement cybersecurity measures before an attack occurs

Now is the time to implement preventive measures—before a breach or attack takes place. As an early-stage startup, prioritizing cybersecurity is critical to safeguarding your reputation and ensuring future success.

Since the risk is real, why not evaluate where you stand?

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