Types of Cyber Threats Affecting Startups

Types of Cyber Threats


While it is the large organizations that hog the headlines, startups remain the silent sufferers when it comes to being hit by cyber-attacks. Many of these SMEs are running on out-of-date systems that have little to no safety. Startups have their resources stretched thin and they are often occupied with the more pressing issues of the business including operations and sales that they end up overlooking security. It is no wonder 58% of all data breaches affected startups.

It is good to note that no matter the size of your business, cybersecurity is mandatory. Here are some of the cyber risks that all startups should be aware of and different ways to protect your business.


While these are old tricks, phishing threats still find their way into the top spot of the cyber risks for one reason: they still work. In fact, 22% of all data breaches faced by small businesses this year are attributed to phishing attacks.

Phishing, with its more recent form, spear-phishing attack is a highly deliberate attempt to steal information from an individual. They often come in the form of emails pointing you towards an unscrupulous website that looks legit. Phishing emails may appear very convincing, often with genuine logos and flawless wording, and they look like they are from trusted sources such as a friend, co-worker, or even your CEO.


As the name suggests, ransomware is a kind of malware or malicious software that seeks to encrypt (lock down) data, a compromised computer, the whole server, rendering it unavailable to the user. The aim is to ask for a ransom before they can release an unlock code. Most of the time, the ransomware is asked in the form of a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin since it’s more difficult to trace compared to an online transaction or regular cash.

Human Error

If your business has staff, then there is a possibility of them leaking sensitive data, either by mistake or maliciously. Many systems become vulnerable to ransomware attacks and data breaches when employees are duped into clicking on attachments or links and installing malware.

Some employees bring the threats into your network by recklessly plugging in their devices to your computers and network. Also, some employees use a similar password for all their accounts and do not change their password as often as they should, making them and you vulnerable to attacks.

How to Protect your Business

Here are some of the ways you can use to protect your business against the above mentioned cyber risks.

Develop a Suitable Cyber Security Culture

It is important to train your employees in security principles. Your employees should be able to tell the difference between a phishing email and an authentic one.

Employees should understand that it is wrong to use unsecured networks to access the company server. They should also be advised against installing any unauthorized third-party apps on the devices if they use them for official work.

Put in Place a Written Security Policy

Just knowing how your company will respond during a hacking incident or a security breach is not enough. This is not the kind of information to casually pass across during a company meeting. Your organization requires a written security policy that accounts for all the possible outlines of a hack and exactly how to respond, and make it readily available to employees.

Use a VPN

A VPN is among the most effective tools that you can use to stay private and anonymous online. So, using a VPN router with all your devices can help avoid DDoS attacks and offer an additional tier of protection against various online threats.

Practice Access Control

As a startup, it is important that you don’t hand out crucial infrastructure access to just anyone. For instance, that freelancer you enlisted to maintain your website could still be having access to your servers.

Today, there are so many administration services and tools that allow you to set up user roles with equivalent levels of access to enable you to control whatever happens on your infrastructure. Encourage everyone to use strong and unique passwords, and make sure you revoke access of those who leave the company as soon as possible.

Have an Incident Reporting Mechanism

Your startup needs to have a good incident reporting mechanism. This is to ensure all incidents of attacks are disclosed to the operations security crew and necessary security measures undertaken to avoid any breach.

Invest on Security

As a small business, you may be reluctant with cybersecurity as you see it as an unnecessary expense. However, cybersecurity is among the most important IT investments that you have to make. Furthermore, there is affordable security software and anti-malware that you can utilize for your office computers.

Always ensure your Data is backed up and encrypted

This technique will come in handy in case ransomware affects your company system and server. You will have the option to clean your devices and begin afresh with new ones. Encryption also makes it impossible for hackers to crack open any hijacked data.

As long as your business depends on any kind of IT devices, you are prone to cyber threats. Whether small or big, it is important to take the necessary steps towards protecting your business from different cyber risks.

Author- Julie Hughes

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