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4 Glaring Security Issues Placing Data at Risk

June 01, 2017

Learn about some of the most common issues that place businesses at risk of data breaches.

In 2016, we learned that no enterprise, no matter how large and profitable, is safe from the hands of cyber thieves. Massive DDoS attacks brought the likes of PayPal, Twitter, Spotify, Yelp, CNN, HBO, Fox News, and other major service providers to their knees and lasted for several hours. Yahoo! was hit by yet another data breach that saw a significant number of customers close their Yahoo! email accounts. Other big multinationals such as Hewlett-Packard and Oracle were also not spared in separate hacking incidents.

Intruders and eavesdroppers are not restricting their affairs to the internet. Cell phones and IP PBX systems have also become targets for data and information thieves. Eavesdroppers who manage to get into your phone can read your texts, record phone calls, and even track the phone’s location. In fact, it’s never been easier for hackers and government agencies to get into your phone.

For startups, any form of potential security threat is enough to send customers to competitors, which contributes to the high number of startups that fail within their first few years. Here are some of the most common issues that place startups – and really every other business – at risk of data breaches. 

1. Poor password habits

In many instances, passwords are the first line of defense when it comes to cyber security. However, many startups often rely on default username and password combos to secure their IP PBX systems, VoIP, internet portals, and networks. Many startups will often install new systems and leave these passwords for months, creating fertile ground for cyber attacks.

In addition to strong passwords, experts in cyber security always advise startups to put in place two-factor authentication protocols. Two-factor authentication requires users to provide an additional security measure in addition to passwords, for instance, a code sent to a mobile app or a phone call with an authentication code. This ensures that even if hackers gain access to your passwords database, access is still limited. 

2. Insufficient physical security

Sometimes, it doesn’t take a special piece of code and hacking tools to break into your system. In some cases, breaking into a local network can be as simple as walking into a server room and copying valuable data into a thumb drive. Early-stage startups often overlook the importance of physical security, which can be devastating for startups that deal with a lot of customer data.

Access to server rooms and other central data storage areas should be restricted to only those with relevant access permissions. Startups should invest in tools such as biometric access control systems in addition to the regular software-based safeguards for maximum security. 

3. Insufficient knowledge within the enterprise

Even with the best security systems in place, startups can still be vulnerable to security breaches. Employees without the necessary technical skills can open doors for hackers and eavesdroppers without their knowledge. Plus, because many startups often work with remote freelancers, people without knowledge on best security practices can place customer data and information at risk every time they access remote databases and servers.

Startups should always invest in training employees so that they understand the dos and don’ts when it comes to cyber security and protecting sensitive information. 

4. Failure to install updates and patches

Every piece of hardware and software installation is always vulnerable to cyber attacks, no matter how new and shiny it is. There are always undocumented vulnerabilities with every new piece of hardware, including the latest PBX and IP VoIP systems. Manufacturers are always testing and making updates to firmware as these vulnerabilities are discovered after the product has been launched into the market.

Most startups – and many of us individually – are guilty of skipping such updates on a regular basis. As a result, hackers exploit these vulnerabilities to gain access to systems, placing sensitive customer data at risk.    

Bottom Line

As an entrepreneur, the best thing you could do for your early-stage startup is to ensure you get it right from the beginning. Customers are more likely to do business with a brand that goes out of its way to guarantee the safety and security of their personal information. Always stay on top of things with regular security audits to ensure your security system is updated and protected from future security threats.

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