Protecting Emerging Startups from Advanced Cyber Threats with Proactive Security Measures
By Babar Khan Akhunzada, Founder, SecurityWall
Startups are known for their agility, speed, and innovation. They often disrupt entire industries with their unique solutions and ideas. However, they are also vulnerable to cyber-attacks and data breaches that can harm their business and reputation. During the disruption they catch eyes of hackers as startups are low on resources initially and hackers take benefit of it to attack and hit low hanging fruits and create backdoors or proceed with data theft which leads to financial bankruptcy and impact reputation negatively.
SaaS (Software as a Service) applications have become an essential part of startup industry as majority of emerging startups operate via apps over web and mobile. Web and mobile app platforms allow startups to provide a seamless user experience. This leads to increased engagement and better user retention. Even if we look into top startups almost 90% are virtually act as SaaS ranging from ride hailing, food, ecommerce, health, and financing.
It is interesting to note the contrast between the significant amount of investment pouring into startups this week and the staggering estimated cost of cybercrime to the world by 2025.
According to recent startups funding reports, this week alone $15.7 billion was invested into startups, highlighting the strong interest and support for emerging businesses. However, Cybercrime report estimates that cybercrime will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2025, up from $3 trillion in 2015. This highlights the importance for startups to invest in cybersecurity measures to protect their businesses from potential attacks and financial losses and as application matters considering:
- Customer Trust: Customers trust startups with their personal and financial information. A data breach can result in a loss of customer trust, which can be difficult to regain.
- Compliance: Startups must comply with various data protection regulations such as GDPR, CCPA, and SOC 2, ISO 27001, HIPAA. A data breach can result in non-compliance penalties and legal action.
- Business Continuity: A data breach can result in loss of critical business data and disrupt business operations, affecting revenue and customer satisfaction.
Startups must learn from past security incidents and take proactive measures to prevent security breaches.
- 2015 Ashley Madison Breach: In July 2015, the personal information of 32 million Ashley Madison users was exposed. The breach was caused by a vulnerability in the company’s web application.
- 2017 Equifax Breach: In September 2017, Equifax announced that a data breach had exposed the personal information of over 143 million customers. The breach was caused by a vulnerability in the company’s web application.
- 2018 Careem: In 2018 Careem was breached but earlier reported to be rescued but due to low engagement reasons startup got an attack over application layer and users data was at risk later learned that Careem faced a data breach of their 14 million users.
These incidents highlight the need for startups to take security seriously and ensure that their SaaS application is well secured in 360-degree manner which range from application, cloud and API’s security especially.
Ensuring SaaS Application Security, Startups should look into penetration testing, audit and industrial compliance (HIPAA, SOC2, OWASP etc) for their web and mobile application to make sure their infrastructure security and users security at same time. This can enhance the trust and usability of app without hesitation and provide comfort within the startup and community but not limited to:
- Conduct Regular Security Audits: Regular security audits help identify vulnerabilities and security gaps in your SaaS application. It enables you to take proactive measures to fix them before they are exploited. Audit should not be automated scanning audits as hackers are much more advance and go logically.
- Use Multi-Factor Authentication: Multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide two or more pieces of evidence to log in. It ensures that only authorized users have access to your application.
- Encrypt Sensitive Data: Encryption converts sensitive data into a format that is unreadable without a decryption key. It ensures that even if data is stolen, it cannot be read or used.
- Regularly Patching: Regularly patching ensures that any known vulnerabilities are addressed and patched, reducing the risk of a security breach.
- Train Employees on Security Best Practices: Employees are often the weakest link in the security chain. Training employees on security best practices ensures that they are aware of the importance of security and how to protect customer data.
SaaS application security is critical for startups. It not only protects customer data but also ensures compliance with data protection regulations and maintains business continuity. Startups must prioritize security
About the Author
Babar Khan Akhunzada is a cyber wizard and entrepreneur, the Founder of SecurityWall, a cyber security firm focused on Hybrid Auditing approach serving startups and enterprises for Penetration Testing, Audit, Compliance (SOC2, IBM AS400). Babar is acknowledged by tech giants within Silicon Valley for security contributions. The author is a well-known speaker who gives his thoughts and analyses on Application Security, Cyber Warfare, OSINT, Cyber Policy, Forensics, and Red Teaming.