3 Data Security Mistakes that Can Kill Your Startup

November 18, 2016
By Nicholas Beames

Startups are often fighting an uphill battle for survival – the battle often lasts long until they reach the critical mass needed to breakthrough to the mainstream market. Startup entrepreneurs, founders, and CEOs already know that they can't afford to run out of cash and they always walk around with 30-second pitches and pitch decks in the hopes of attracting investors. Startups also know the importance of acquiring and retaining customers, and they have measures in place to prevent or lower churn.However, most startups often make the grievous mistake of ignoring data security in their plans. Yet, the security of the data of customers and clients is one of the factors that could ensure the survival of startups. Fintech startups are at the biggest risk because they handle people's financial data and they must protect financial data to avoid data breaches that could end in lawsuits.Here are three data security mistakes all startups must avoid in order to survive.

1. Not starting with security in mind

Many startups often make security decisions as an afterthought when they have almost completed their products and they are a few weeks away from launching. Security and privacy won't happen automatically and you'll need to make conscious efforts to ensure your data security from the onset. To start with, SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) should default on your website and you don't even need to break the bank for this protection.You'll need to think about making proactive DDoS solutions, adoption zero tolerance measures on noncompliance, ensuring PCI compliance, and having reliable third-party security experts test your defenses. You should also adopt some internal security policies such as limiting single login and prompting employees to strengthen or change their passwords regularly.

2. Not creating personal and professional borders

Many firms are adopting bring your own device (BYOD) solutions because it is convenient for workers and it allows them to take work home. Startups are also falling in love with the BYOD idea because it reduces their upfront expenses in buying computers and it allows workers to work round the clock. However, security professionals will be quick to note that convenience is often at the expense of security.A BYOD culture could create a vulnerability that people with sinister motives could exploit to access your data. A BYOD culture has its own pros, but the cons include the fact that the devices and the data they hold could easily fall into the wrong hands. More so, employees in a BYOD environment could also leave with valuable business data when they leave your company.

3. Not ensuring that clients/customers are security-conscious

Startups are often eager to grow and scale; hence, they usually want to make it 'easy' for potential users to sign up and use their products and services. In a bid to make a quick sale, acquire a new customer, get one more download, startups often ask people to sign up with an existing social media account instead of asking them to fill up a form from scratch. The problem, however, is that most startups tend to ignore the importance of two-step verification on the customer end for increased data security.Two-step verification will send a code via SMS to a smartphone of the user when they attempt to log in into your web page. In fact, you don't need to create your own two-step verification and you can easily adopt ready-made solutions from G Suite (Google Apps for Work) or Salesforce among others. Your users might not like the extra 30-second it will take them to set up two-step verification but you won't have to worry about data breaches and its attendant lawsuits down the road.