#Asia Why startups must prioritise web security before it’s too late

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Seasoned cyber criminals prefer launching low visibility web attacks that keep their presence hidden and minimises their risk for detection

Startup web security

There are a few misconceptions that need to be addressed when it comes to the topic of web security. The majority of large media and online publications tend to only disseminate news regarding hacking incidents that affect major corporations.

For example, the now infamous Ashley Madison data breach of 2015 made headlines for weeks. The extramarital affairs networking website suffered a major hack attack that exposed 32 million account details of its members online. Although reporting news of this magnitude is necessary, it is also extremely misleading.

If online news outlets only focus on large scale web attacks, this can give off the false perception that cyber criminals are only interested in going after the proverbial “big fish” enterprise or that web attacks are always so visibly destructive. These assumptions are far from the truth.

In fact, nearly 74 per cent of all small organisations (less than 100 members) reported a hack attack within the last year alone. It is also important to note that a good majority of web attacks are more discreet and insidious in nature.

To be more specific, seasoned cyber criminals prefer launching low visibility web attacks that keep their presence hidden and minimises their risk for detection. These are all reasons why every organisation, especially startups, needs to begin prioritsiing web security before it’s too late.

Startups and small businesses are targets too

Many small organisations mistakenly believe is that they are too small to attract a web hacker, which leads them to overlook web security altogether. However, studies show that small businesses are just as, if not more, vulnerable to web hacking than large enterprises. The key difference being that major corporations have a substantial amount of resources, capital, and dedicated security specialists to counteract potential cyber attacks that they may encounter.

On the other hand, smaller organisations, such as startup ventures, face an exponentially more difficult battle. They simply do not have resources readily available to counter major hacking attempts that could strike at any given moment.

To make matters worse, for startups to place so much time and dedication into growing their online business, it would be devastating to see it all eradicated with the click of a mouse. According to the National Cybersecurity Alliance, roughly 60 per cent of small companies will close within six months of a major cyber attack due to high costs, loss of customer information, and damaged brand reputation. Web hackers have proven that any organisation is susceptible to hacking attempts and this should go double for startup ventures.

Hackers always stay one step ahead

As mentioned above, many small organisations tend to overlook web security as a necessity. One major mistaken that is committed by startups is to place the responsibility of cybersecurity onto others. For instance, many smaller companies believe that using brand name CMS platforms, email clients, and even well-known hosting service providers will entitle them to proper web security. However, startup owners must realise that web security is their own responsibility. Staying complacent and entrusting other third-party services to properly secure your data should never happen.

The lack of commitment to web security by smaller organisations is not a well-kept secret. Web hackers are fully aware of the fact that smaller companies tend to overlook the growing need to securing their most valued assets. All companies, regardless of size, must make a conscious effort to stay ahead of web hackers before they can damage your business.

What can I do to safeguard my business?

Web security needs to be executed using a two-pronged approach: protecting your internal network and also monitoring your network perimeter. To keep your network infrastructure clean from any bugs or malicious attacks, it is recommended that you utilise website scanners to help detect and remove malware/viruses. Malware is one of the most common and dangerous forms of web attack that can negatively affect your business. It is also recommended to use a network firewall that can help monitor network activity and detect unauthorised attempts to access files within your own network.

For more perimeter based security, it will be effective to monitor all web traffic and visitors that come into your website. One way to do this is to implement a high performance Web Application Firewall (WAF) to monitor and filter malicious web attacks before they ever reach your internal network. This can be a great first line defense, especially for startups, to help block any would be web hackers from accessing sensitive data that is found on your web server.

Traditionally, WAFs were deployed via expensive hardware and appliances; however, many web security vendors are now offering WAF protection as a service to better serve smaller companies.

Final thoughts

Startups that voluntarily choose to neglect web security could be heading down a dark path. All of those long nights dedicated towards growing your venture and ensuring that your business or product performs effectively could be for naught after just one major hack attack. Instead of viewing web security as someone else’s responsibility, it’s time to be more vigilant and to take a preemptive role when it comes to your own web security. Utilising various security options is easy and a good majority of vendors provide their security technology as a free or cost effective service. It’s time to cut out the excuses and start taking control of your web security today!

Joey Song is the Brand Manager for Cloudbric, a cloud-based web security service that provides elite protection for small and medium sized businesses. 

The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, you can submit your post here .

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