Securing your hard tech company can be a daunting task. Trying to navigate the cybersecurity landscape can feel like drowning in a sea of three-letter acronyms — it can be hard to parse what solutions will make a difference. To help you stay secure, we’ve compiled a list of the highest return on investment (ROI) actions you can take to protect your company data.
0. First Things First
Hard tech startups have different requirements from your usual SaaS startup. The most important thing to your business is likely your Intellectual Property (IP). Establish clear expectations with your team around what constitutes IP and which channels can be used to store and transmit it. For example, you might establish a rule that IP can never be attached to an email and can only be shared via a Google Drive link.
You should also be sure to take inventory of who you are protecting yourself from. Depending on what you are building and who might want to take it from you — take inventory of the threat actors and threat vectors you want to guard against.
1. Enable and Enforce Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Our first three-letter acronym! MFA is the number one thing you can do to protect your company from data breaches. Even the most sophisticated hacks often start with stolen credentials. MFA means that an attacker can’t just steal a password to gain access to your data. To turn on MFA, you can follow the instructions for your given identity provider: Google, Azure, and Okta are relatively straightforward. We recommend using something other than email or SMS as a second factor — having your employees download an App like Authenticator will get you a lot more security, and it’s free.
2. Invest in a (Mobile) Device Management (MDM) Solution
Device management solutions ensure that you can remotely wipe and lock a device if it’s lost or stolen. Not only that, but device management solutions can help you turn on and enforce encryption — another layer of security that can protect your devices in the event of compromise. Device Management solutions are the foundation of a robust security program, and investing in one early helps ensure your company stays secure as you grow. We recommend using an established tool here (given it’s a foundational piece of your program). Depending on what kind of devices (Windows, Mac, Linux) your employees have, you can mix and match options like Jamf and Intune.
3. Set up an Antivirus Solution (Endpoint Threat Detection, EDR)
Antivirus can help protect your data by identifying and destroying malware, ransomware, and more before you experience devastating and permanent data loss. Depending on your budget and requirements, you can use tools like McAfee, CrowdStrike, and MalwareBytes. The great news is that setting up an Antivirus solution becomes 10x easier once you have a device management platform!
These three tips are the highest ROI things you can do to protect your company. MFA stops hackers from stealing credentials, MDM protects stolen or missing laptops, and EDR can protect you if malware gets downloaded onto a company machine.
As you build your cybersecurity program and get the basics right, you can invest in more complex mitigations like application patching, running tabletop exercises, and devising disaster recovery protocols. If you’re just starting out, these three tips are guaranteed to immediately take your cybersecurity program from 0 to 1.