They do, indeed. Information security is paramount for any organization, regardless if it's a startup, a small to medium-sized business (SMB), or a large enterprise. Remarkably some startups, like those in the payment platform space, handle more sensitive data than big businesses. What's more, large corporations often depend on startup products for their crucial business activities, and vice versa. SMBs and startups are woven into the fabric of the overall business ecosystem. And everybody is vulnerable to cyberattacks, which can have downstream effects that can reach their business partners and customers.

Startups tend to be obsessed with growth and nothing else. However, placing cybersecurity on the back burner in the hopes of putting out fires as they happen can be harmful. Startups can't limit themselves to responding to and mitigating security incidents; startups must have a strong security culture, an impenetrable product architecture, and proper business recovery plans. A full-time CISO is therefore necessary, depending on your business's size and sector.

Here's why SMBs and startups alike should have a CISO:

A CISO can help increase the security maturity of a startup

Attackers believe that startups lack a CISO and take security for granted, assuming no security strategy or risk/recovery planning is in place. The expertise of a CISO can help a startup develop better security maturity and mitigate these attacks.

A CISO can aid in secure software building practices

A startup's core competency is its products, and a crucial growth indicator is client retention. A susceptible program or insecure code may be exploited by an attacker, which could result in data theft and device compromise. CISOs play a crucial part in offering knowledgeable guidance on creating solutions that are secure by design.

Imagine a breach due to a vulnerable code in the product, which could be detrimental to customer retention and also future funding prospects. Startups can benefit significantly from a secure product design, especially in their nascent stage. Product security is a question of reputation, which is difficult to regain once lost.

CISOs help manage risks with multiple third-party vendors

Startups tend to employ third-party solutions for their business needs, such as cloud service providers, email, and chat applications. While this offers flexibility and agility, monitoring these third-party solutions for security risks and their handling of sensitive data is crucial. Think of supply-chain attacks where an attacker infiltrates your network through a partner or vendor having access to your systems and data. Finding the best fit that aligns with your organization's security needs among hundreds of providers is a vital KPI for a CISO.

CISOs are advisors to drive a security roadmap

Startups and SMBs should seek advice on the current security landscape and develop a robust risk management program for the future. The recent pandemic, for example, left many startups scrambling to adapt to remote work and newer cyberthreats. With a CISO in place, it would have been their responsibility to give the course of action and build a roadmap for future resilience.

After all, startups and SMBs often grow to become enterprises eventually. While they might not present popular targets like huge enterprises for attackers, they shouldn't make themselves easier targets.

Check out our blog Criteria to measure CISO success to understand more about what a CISO can help you achieve.

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