When you are first starting out with your online business it can be easy to forget about security- “I am such a small company, who would want to hack me?”….But eventually, this line of thinking may come back to haunt you.

Hacking is a fact of life, in fact over 44 percent of businesses surveyed from the National Small Business Association, reported being hacked. These hacks averaged a cost of around $8,700 each.

Think your startup is too small to think about security? Think again, because even a few thousand is a lot to lose especially when you are first starting out.

The good news is that there are some strong protocols you can take to protect your business, no matter how small it is. While they may not be fail proof, they will help you to save money and protect your customers information.

Here is what you need to know:

1. Customers

The biggest risk of being hacked or having your security compromised really begins with your customers. You may lose some data and content but your customers stand to lose their credit card information and personal details. That in turn can manifest as you losing your relationship with them and even going out of business altogether.

In order for your customers to purchase from you they have to trust you and chances are if you have sales, you have already gained trust and abusing it at this stage could cost you greatly.

As Jason Webster, the CTO from Flow states-

“It’s impossible to build up an maintain a good rapport with your customers if a shoddy reputation precedes you. In a crowded space with lots of competition, no one is going to pick the option with a poor security record.”

Especially if you are dealing with online sales or sensitive information, protecting your customers data should be your first and most important strategy.

2. Nothing is Fail Proof

Everything is hackable, but really it is about prevention rather than a cure. Remembering this is important as it will help you to determine what solutions best suit your company and your budget.

You need not spend a fortune on internet security, but having a few strategies in place and a plan of action will definitely help if the situation ever arises.

As Daniel Ziv, founder and product manager of ShakeCard shares-

“In case of hostile intrusion to your servers, you are pretty much screwed. In our case, we got lucky- it was only our collaboration servers that were hacked, so the breach was harmless to our users. The experience was, however, a wake up call.”

You never know when a hacker is going to strike, but if you set up the right infrastructure you can receive notifications of any foul activity and then start addressing it from there.

3. Selecting Solutions

Having a one-size fits all solution to security is definitely detrimental. There are different components and protocols that you need to think about when it comes to your desktop site, your mobile site and even your payment processor.

There are so many things to think about when it comes to security, but the best move is to start with the most critical factors first.

As the lead security expert at Braintree states-

“Implementing security measures from the onset is critical yet often overlooked due to the lack of developer resources or time, which can be a costly mistake. At Braintree, we remove a lot of the obstacles for our merchants by offering integrated security and compliance solutions, giving them the freedom to focus on the business at hand.”

Start with pin pointing the main weaknesses and vulnerabilities on your website and then work out from there the best and most cost effective ways to protect them.

4. Strategies

Now that you have a solid understanding of the importance of online security, here are some of the top strategies that you can implement when protecting yourself from hackers:

  • Ensure all your security plans are adaptable- you never know what may come up
  • Consider hiring a tech security employee or having a small security team
  • Backup your webpage and content regularly in case anything were to occur
  • Ensure your passwords are at least 8+ characters long and contain numbers, characters and capital letters
  • Change and update passwords regularly
  • Clear your browser history so no one can steal your activity
  • Avoid using free Wi-fi or allowing employees to use their own devices
  • Use Https
  • Avoid opening suspicious links, spam email etc.
  • Install an anti-virus or anti-spy software
  • Keep your firewall turned on
  • Encrypt and duplicate important files and documents
  • Only deal with reputable merchant processing services
  • Install a security plugin to protect against brute force attacks
  • Monitor suspicious IP’s and don’t be afraid to black list them
  • Create a plan of action incase hackers demand money

There are many reasons why your website may be the target of an attack and very rarely is it personal. Having a system in place will definitely save you time, money and stress and is excellent insurance for the future of your startup.