The 6 things you really must know to improve information security

7 min read
Mallika Krishnamoorthy

As the head of a start-up you are juggling multiple tasks: marketing, sales, IT, finance -- the list is unending. One of the most overlooked areas, but by far the most significant today, is information security. With data only getting bigger in volume, criminal cohorts will have a field day if there’s nothing to prevent them.

Companies are expected to invest at least 10% more on cyber security in 2021.

With more people working from home, cloud security is seeing an uptick in growth. All major industry segments are prioritizing information security, including the following:

  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • eCommerce
  • Finance
  • Retail
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing

As a startup, you may decide to use several new security products in order to get scalable end-to-end protection.

Related: GoDaddy Website Security — now a complete security solution

The good news

It’s wiser to invest in protection before your data is stolen by hackers, rather than pay for an expensive cure after the fact. Take a few steps to secure your business and ensure the peace of mind you deserve!

There are many cyber security companies that offer great services to ensure your business is digitally secure. GoDaddy’s Web Security, for example, gives you all the tools you need to keep your site and customers’ private information safe.

Here’s what you really need to look for while you decide on information security for your business.

6 steps to information security

Computer cursor pointing to the word “Security”

It might look technical at first, but all you need to get your feet wet is an overall understanding. You’ll want to do this before you hire an expert to implement security features or purchase a security suite. Staying clued in will help you reach your business goals.

Consider these steps before you begin:

1. Know where your data is being stored

Is it on-site, say on paper or a physical hard drive, or in the cloud? Choose accordingly.

2. Ensure everything is updated

Charge your IT provider or security expert with the task of making sure all application, firewall and anti-malware software is up-to-date at all times. If you handle updates, be sure to make them as soon as you learn of an available update.

3. Set up a company-wide security policy

Create a plan that educates workers what to do in case of a security breach. Hire a security officer or outsource it for correct policy implementation and monitoring.

4. Protect remote devices and computers

Make sure suitable protection is in place for optimal information security. Remote working capabilities have introduced complexities around work devices. An employee could also be working on his mobile phone instead of a laptop. Security features such as use of a VPN (virtual private network) must cover all devices.

5. Make sure you have a plan B

When there is a breach, you must have a plan in place to continue doing business. This is called a business continuity plan and you can learn how to write one here.

6. Ensure physical security on company-owned property

This includes everything from educating employees about what to do if they lose their laptops  to securing any property where business devices and laptops may be kept.

Related: What your business can gain from good digital security

The cost of ignoring information security

Imagine your company is running according to plan. As the owner of a startup, you’re excited about the growing momentum. You’ve addressed all the risks and don’t foresee any areas of concern. However, a small oversight could prove pretty expensive.

A cyber-attack could cost you hard-won customers, as well as any trust or loyalty you had earned. Your company might bite the dust even before it really began!

In fact, 60% of small companies close down within six months of being hacked.

Cyber-attacks are becoming common — one malware attack is enough to cause enormous damage to your business reputation. The key here is to be aware and take proactive action.

The impacts of a security breach

Customers are vulnerable because they trust you with their personal information. Think about the sensitive information they might share like:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Phone number
  • Address
  • Aadhaar numbers or banking details

If any of these land into the hands of cyber criminals, the consequences could be devastating. Financial fraud and identity theft are serious offences committed with such stolen data.

Hackers could even hijack your business and steal your customers or intellectual property. Legally, this could hit your reputation enough that legal authorities can impose restrictions on your business activities. There is much to lose if you’re unprepared.

3 goals in avoiding data loss prevention

Typewriter with the word “Goals” on a sheet of paper

Broadly classified, the three goals of a secure network are confidentiality, integrity and availability. Below, we’ll discuss what each one means and how they help with information security.

Goal #1: Confidentiality

This goal is to ensure data privacy. For example, the right licenses must remain with the right people.

Access to customer details and business secrets must be restricted to only those trusted few.

Sensitive data such as customer information must be protected. The threat lies in data passing into the hands of untrustworthy people. This could very well occur with a cyber-attack or hacking into your company’s systems.

Goal #2: Integrity

To boost your information security, any unauthorized changes must be prevented. Parameters such as a checksum will help verify if your data did not undergo any changes.

Additionally, an access control ensures permissions to modify and delete data from authorized personnel only. It guarantees the trustworthiness, authenticity and consistency of your data information throughout the process lifecycle.

A break in confidentiality could allow unauthorized data modification. Access and file permissions, or version control systems, can prevent such issues.

However there are other problems to consider -- such as a server crash or an electromagnetic impulse that could introduce a non-human error. Backups must revive systems to the correct state by eliminating these errors.

Cryptography is a useful and cost-effective mitigation to arrest fault injection attacks.

Person holding smartphone while working on laptop with coding

In easier terms, these are techniques employed to scramble and disguise data, so that only an authorized person can restore it to its original form.

There are a few algorithms deployed for this purpose such as:

  • Hash functions
  • Symmetric-key (private key) algorithms
  • Asymmetric key (public key) algorithms

Simplistically, these are mathematical calculations to encrypt and decrypt data.

Goal #3: Availability

A clear objective for information security is to assure that data remains with the authorized users at any given time. Even in the rare occurrence of loss of data due to a disruption, it must be available to the authorized users for IT processes and business continuity.

You can improve physical infrastructure by taking the following measures:

  • Implementing servers
  • Using disks
  • Speeding up recovery times
  • Eliminating corrupt data

For example, making data available in clusters is a good way to ensure that all data is not lost -- even if there was a sudden failure. Designs that ensure load balancing and build resilience against DDoS attacks help to maintain availability.

A DDoS attack is a Distributed Denial of Service attack aimed to disrupt regular traffic of a targeted server, service or network. It does this by flooding the network.

Final takeaways on information security

Digital information is growing in great volume and velocity. The current pandemic has shifted most businesses to online mode, spiking a demand for cloud data and data loss prevention.

Applying a scalable, trusted security policy will not only increase your business security but will improve your venture’s long-term prospects.  Get one today and build your business on a sound footing.