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In today’s world, it is increasingly likely that your startup data can be hacked, stolen or misused. Therefore, you must know how to protect your data best and integrate data security methods into your company. Generally, your information security methods can involve a variety of strategies to protect your startup from physical and digital breaches. This article will outline what an information security breach can entail and what security measures you can use in your startup to prevent these. 

What is an Information Security Breach?

A breach can be suspected, successful, or attempted. Therefore, the violation does not have to be successful for you to treat it as a threat. Undoubtedly, your company will need to trace and track the incident to decide on the best information security method to identify the threat.

Potential threats can include:

  • unauthorised users accessing data;
  • misuse of data;
  • unauthorised disclosure;
  • data breach;
  • modification of information;
  • destruction of information;
  • social engineering;
  • malware including viruses and worms; and
  • hacking. 

Data Encryption

Data encryption can translate your information into another form or code, so only authorised people with a decryption key can access and read the data. Therefore, you can use an encryption algorithm to encrypt the data you want to provide confidentiality. In addition, such algorithms call for authentication and ensure there have been data has not been altered

With encryption, you can protect your data even if it gets lost. This allows you to build trust with customers and suppliers who are confident that their sensitive information will not be leaked to anyone. In addition, your company can choose to use a software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendor who will be responsible for data encryption.

Next, using encryption is essential if your startup collects customer data through a website. You should encrypt the data in transit using asymmetric keys, so your website utilises HTTPS.

The most common data types that your business can encrypt include:

  • emails;
  • databases;
  • passwords;
  • usernames;
  • employee data;
  • customer data; and
  • intellectual property.

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Data Masking

With data masking, you can ensure that your data will be secure.

In essence, data masking involves hiding original information in the data with other codes and random characters. The data cannot be deciphered or reverse engineered, making the strategy robust to a data breach.

The technique is best when you want to secure sensitive data. This is because you can ensure that only authorised people can read your data and that hackers or other users cannot access it. 

There are four types of data masking, which are:

  • static data masking – this will hide all confidential information until you can safely share a copy;
  • deterministic data masking – this process is less secure and involves mapping two sets of data so that one value will always hide another value;
  • on-the-fly data masking – this will mask data in transit; and
  • dynamic data masking – this process will mask data in transit, but you cannot store the data in a secondary database.

To effectively implement data masking, you need to know what information you should protect and who you will authorise to read it. Furthermore, you should identify where the data is stored and what applications require the data. However, there are different ways to mask data, and you must ensure that you apply the same technique to the same type of data. For example, you can hide data through:

  • data encryption;
  • data scrambling;
  • nulling out;
  • data substitution; and
  • data shuffling.

Passwords and 2-Factor Authentication

Databases should ask for a password and 2-factor authentication when allowing employees to access data.

Employees should have unique and strong passwords. Therefore, your startup should have password change policies that ensure that employees change their passwords regularly and that their password meets specific requirements such as the number of characters. Hackers have many sophisticated methods to figure out employee passwords making it vital for your company to have secure passwords that are regularly updated. 

However, people can easily guess or hack into credentials. Thus, having 2-factor authentication reduces the likelihood of unauthorised access. 2-factor authentication involves the system requiring another method of identity verification from the user apart from their password to access data such as:

  • facial recognition;
  • PIN;
  • fingerprint; and
  • voice recognition.

It is good to implement a lock-out system that will lock a user out of the system after a certain amount of unsuccessful login attempts. In addition, the system should notify you and the administrator of fraud and potential threats to prevent attacks. 

Key Takeaways

Your startup could suffer from many information security breaches, making it essential to have methods to protect your data. For example, your company can implement data encryption, data masking, secure passwords, and 2-factor authentication strategies. Generally, these methods can ensure that your company is robust against external attacks and minimises internal threats. If you need help implementing data security strategies for your startup, you can contact our experienced startup lawyers to assist as part of our LegalVision membership. You will have unlimited access to lawyers who can answer your questions and draft and review your documents for a low monthly fee. Call us today at 0800 005 570 or visit our membership page

Frequently Asked Questions

What is data encryption?

Data encryption involves translating your data into another code or language so only authorised people with a key can access the data. You can use an algorithm or asymmetric keys to implement data encryption.  

What are some information security threats my startup could face?

Your startup can face internal threats such as copying, unauthorised access, disclosure, misuse, modifications, and data destruction when allowing employees to access data. External threats can include hacking, viruses, worms, malware, social engineering, denial-of-service attacks, and trojan horse attacks. 

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