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The 7 deadly sins of startup security

Sai Ramanan | Nov. 11, 2014
For startups, user growth, product growth, virality, marketing usually goes on the top of their priority list. As part of product planning cycles, embedding information security into their product/service is the last concern for most startups.

6. Not empowering your employees.

In startups, things move really fast. That means the ability to quickly identify the vulnerabilities and fix them. Who do you think in your organization is better able to spot those weak spots before the bad hackers? Of course, it will be your employees. It's imperative to create the ecosystem where your smartest employees are motivated to identify security incidents and report them without worrying about the repercussions. Security awareness is even more important in startups than in large companies. In large companies, you will have the ability to use automated emails, phishing solution to educate the employees, have security programs as part of new hire orientations, etc. However, in startups, you have to look for creative ways to educate employees about breaches and incidents.

7. Managing bug bounty programs

With the limited amount of security budget and resources startups have, try to leverage these third party bug bounty programs such as Hackerone, Bugcrowd and many others. Once you know you have sufficiently hardened the infrastructure and fixed the known vulnerabilities, then you can open this upto one of these bounty programs. Fix the low-hanging fruits first.

Scoping the program is very important as you don't want to get an influx of multiple redundant vulnerabilities reported by researchers. Also remediate the low priority vulnerabilities that can be found through regular automated software checks before engaging with these programs.

Alternatively, you can choose to set up a public sandbox environment that people can test against that runs the same code as production.

Understand the gravity of security missteps. Don't just be a trusted security advisor. Be a security evangelist.


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