How Secure is your Start-up? Analyse your security posture

security assessment for startupsA nascent technology organization can often have a pretty long ‘to-do list’. A mad rush ensues in the early stages of inception when business development efforts take up highest priority and security often ends up as one of the very last items on the list.

If there’s anything to deduce from the pattern of cyber crime victims in recent times, it should be that startups can no longer bank on the “we’re not there yet” excuse to shrug off or postpone security management. It is easy to empathize with them because all along, we’ve been led to believe that cyber criminals only target bigger companies. Sadly, this is far from the truth. Read on to know why your business might be at stake as long as that misconception exists.

Technology-intensive startups are learning the hard way that they are indeed potential targets for millions of attackers looking for ways to make quick bucks off confidential information or just intending to wreak havoc on infrastructure. No matter what the intent is, an unguarded spot in your assets and networks can prove to be a major setback for your emerging business. Native startups like Ola Cabs and were basking in the glory of a fresh wave of patronage when both companies were caught unawares by hackers. Loss of user credentials and user behavior information were just one aspect of the price they paid for neglecting security risk assessment. The real damage is always the loss of credibility and a diminishing interest in what the company has to offer. The age of internet business has the inherent risk of offending a huge portion of the target audience owing to a seemingly minor security flaw.

Hacking entities are being managed like any other business whose central goal is to maximize its return on investment. Naturally, they would prefer the easier targets with long windows of exposure to which they could latch on like a spile and drink up. With a lack of the requisite IT resources and expertise for a holistic security set up, startups and SMBs universally fit the bill.

One grave blunder that small businesses and young tech companies make is relying on basic antivirus, firewall and anti-spam software for their defense. Symantec recently made a public confession that your antivirus is no longer relevant in the era of cloud computing. Startups are reportedly the most common adopters of cloud-hosted software and infrastructure for the sheer cost-efficiency and ease of integration they offer. The best way to stay protected is by understanding the third party vendor’s security policies and that of the channels leading back to your internal networks. Vigilant companies prefer a cloud service provider whose security measures focus on data-centric defense rather than application-centric defense. Encryption is the most widely-acknowledged safeguard especially for companies that manage raw, big data. A start-up is liable to face legal action for a breach of its information even while it is at rest with one of its cloud service providers.

The Inside-out Approach to Security

Yet another smart move is to look at security initiation from the inside – what experts would call information-centric security. This approach would ensure that the company is aware of the kind of security flaws and potential exploits that each data asset is exposed to. Analyzing the environment where data is at rest and in motion requires a pervasive vulnerability assessment. This exercise will help your IT department zero in on deviations from normal behavior that could invite malicious interception.

Organizations must acknowledge the fact that security is not a one-time task but a continuous process of monitoring and evaluation

Companies that have a BYOD policy must educate themselves about imminent threats like accidental loss of data caused by a minor error of a well-meaning employee.

That takes us to the next important aspect of maintaining the health of your internal defense mechanism.

Employee-centric social sensitization

Otherwise referred to as social engineering in security parlance, this concept is gaining popularity among technology enterprises that wish to acquaint employees with major technology migrations. Ponemon Institute discovered that about 64 percent of data breaches were caused by human error and access mismanagement.

Organizations are now adopting Unified Threat Management devices that offer composite control over employee access to cloud and enterprise assets. Detecting misconfigurations in these control devices can be challenging. Security personnel can adequately educate your employees to avoid naive actions that may put themselves and the company’s assets in a dicey situation. Every team needs to understand how their negligence can give way for advance persistent threats to weaken the company’s line of defense.

Security audit experts usually offer this sensitivity training as part of their vulnerability status reviews and recommendations. Today, one can no longer demarcate benign areas from blatantly malign ones. The goal is to get every member involved in managing individual practices with diligence. This can also help eliminate the perceived hostility surrounding the idea of a hardcore surveillance policy.


Understand the objective of security assessment for your enterprise and application

Security experts assert that it may be time to accept that security management is moving from the goal of breach prevention to breach detection and mitigation. The ugly truth is that it is no longer practical to think one can prevent all data breaches. The only way out is a continuous appraisal to evaluate your posture and what are the latest attack vectors that have developed after your last evaluation. Young enterprises can leverage on a security testing partner who works with you from scratch and provides long term assistance in ensuring continuous excellence.

The most important step in adjudging your security posture is identifying the key focus areas with respect to your enterprise and the technology platforms your applications are dependent on. Security assessment is not a generic, ‘one size fits all’ capsule. Most tools in the market fail to offer focused results simply because they are quite generic in approach. An ideal vulnerability and risk appraisal would begin by investigating existing operational pathways and dependencies and give you valuable insights on what it can offer for your enterprise. This way, you will only have to pay for the services that you actually need.


Evaluate your options

While it is every organization’s responsibility to make an informed decision in hiring or partnering with a security services provider, the most desirable trait one must look for in security partner is their ability to understand your environment and their capability to offer a focused and complementary service package.

Organizations must acknowledge the fact that security is not a one-time task but a continuous process of monitoring and evaluation. However, it is indispensable at certain points in time including before you go live following a major upgrade or a change in the product portfolios. Identify a cyber security analyst with a constantly updating threat databases of attack modes that cause high damage from a safe distance.

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