How Startups Can Ensure Their First Hires Understand Online Security

November 24, 2022
Image by Thomas Breher from Pixabay

When you’re launching a startup it can be difficult to keep track of everything, and crucial elements can fall through the cracks. One thing you absolutely cannot afford to slack on though is online security.

For many startups, there is also the case of the business owner taking it seriously, but the staff not so much. There’s no point in hiring an effective, creative team if they’re reckless and compromise the security of your business, customers, and clients. Here’s how you can ensure your first batch of startup hires take online security as seriously as you do.

Run test scenarios

A modern, fully-online business needs to treat the threat of cyber attacks in the same way it would a fire. Without downplaying the seriousness of a fire, a company that stores all of its information online and largely operates within the confines of cyberspace needs to look at a serious breach as having a similar impact to a fire ripping through their office.

You should be testing your employee’s ability to react to a security risk as frequently as possible. Running live simulated attacks is becoming an increasingly popular method of tightening up cybersecurity among tech companies and those with a heavy online reliance. These simulated attacks don’t just test how prepared your team and security systems are for such an occurrence, but force them to come up with new solutions to combat the issue.

Another popular simulation method is sending fake phishing emails. How your team reacts to them and whether they follow proper precautions can tell you a lot about how seriously they take cybersecurity and whether training sessions are sinking in or not.

Feedback sessions after these trial runs allow you to look back at how the team fared and if the experience offered any inspiration for new techniques to implement.

Get the basics right

How do you expect your team to take cybersecurity seriously if you’re not even getting the basics right? A solid foundation of online security rules is essential for showing new starters what measures are in place and what is expected of them.

Impressions matter. Your team needs to see you taking the lead on cybersecurity. Otherwise, they’ll feel they can get away with being lax themselves. Before you launch the business and even think about hiring new staff, you need a checklist of security measures. For example:

  • Ensure you’re using secure WiFi by investing in a WiFi subscription that includes dedicated external support to help you solve any security issues without hassle. There are multiple broadband and phone deals out there that include this kind of security support as standard, so don’t overpay where unnecessary.
  • Use a reliable cloud solution for backing up files in case of a data breach, and host your company website using a secure hosting solution. If you’re a startup agency managing multiple client websites, use an agency-friendly cloud hosting provider such as Cloudways to ensure all sites are protected by SSL certificates.
  • Install a robust firewall to protect your network from direct attacks: there’s a range of firewall solutions for small businesses that will monitor the network for malicious traffic and block any attempts to infiltrate your infrastructure.

These are basic tips, but often the basics play the largest role in making sure your business stays safe.

Stress the importance of security at home

Many progressive startups have embraced a culture of allowing their teams to work from home to accommodate their schedules and commitments. However, just because they’re not in the office shouldn’t mean that they take cybersecurity any less seriously. In fact, they should be much more cautious and have a strict set of remote working rules to follow.

Before your team is allowed to work from home, you should ensure they complete a cybersecurity form showing that they have the necessary precautions in place to protect the sensitive information they have access to, such as having a secure internet connection. You should also make sure they’re installing a VPN for added security. This creates a secure connection between the user and your business systems.

Making the distinction between work and personal lives while working from home is equally essential. They may have taken a company laptop home, but that machine should only be used for company operations. Likewise, they shouldn’t be logging into company accounts through personal machines, as they likely don’t have the same security measures installed. Equipment and the right to work out of the office should be treated with respect.

Build a healthy culture

It’s important to find a balance with cybersecurity. You don’t want to drive away talented people by being focused on security 100% of the time. You have to integrate it subtly into your company culture so that people always know to make themselves aware of the risk and follow company precautions.

Education is an important part of that, and giving your team the time to actually learn on company time will avoid them resenting the thought of security. Make sure you always reiterate that it is there to protect them, the company and their positions, rather than just being something you’re incessantly focused on without reason.

It’s almost impossible to find a selection of first wave hires who will take cybersecurity as seriously as you will. However, by investing your time in test and training scenarios, staying on top of the basics, encouraging security best practice at home, and building a healthy working culture, you can help your new team understand and appreciate the importance of cybersecurity.

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