It is easy to think that your startup is too small or too new to face threats to your data security. But the simple fact is that in the current competitive climate of the biotech industry, when many companies of all sizes are rushing to develop innovations, the security of your data is more important than ever.
The best way to ensure that your data is secure from threats that come from both inside and outside of your company is to partner with an IT provider with expertise in both security and the unique needs of biotech startups. Such a partner can assist you in putting together the right mix of solutions now while thinking of where you company is going in the future so these solutions can be built on and used as your company grows. It is much simpler and cost effective to start with the right mentality around information security then trying to change these systems and procedures while your company is in growth mode. When developing the IT infrastructure for your biotech startup business, be sure that you keep the following security concerns in mind.
1. Storing Data in the Cloud
Storing data on cloud based servers presents tremendous new opportunities for startup biotech companies. Cloud storage can offer an affordable and flexible way for your company to store and share the data in the early stages of your company. But with this opportunity comes new challenges and significant threats to the security of your information. Any time that you store data off-site and allow access from any type of device, you open up the possibility that it can be accessed by third parties. If their intent is malicious, you could be giving up valuable information to competitors and saboteurs. If it is due to theft of a device you still run the risk of someone accessing this data and doing who knows what with it, including deletion. It is incumbent on any biotech startup to carefully research their cloud service provider before they commit to any service. Also, consider letting your IT provider do the user and security management so mistakes are not overlooked, taking it on yourself or letting an employee manage this could create problems down the road. Any cloud storage company that manages your cloud storage could potentially have access to your data. Be sure that you are working with a company that will both respect and accommodate your security concerns
2. Restricting Administrative Privileges
Many biotech startups underestimate the risk that they face from internal threats—either from ill intent or sloppiness. When you start a company with a small team that you know well, you might think everyone is on the same page with data security. Unfortunately, as experience has shown, the greatest threat to your data security could be coming from within your own company. It is always a good policy to establish restrictive administrative access privileges from your first day in business. Preventing your employees from downloading and storing programs on your computers without permission ensures that you have better control over the way your IT infrastructure operates. It can also limit infections on your systems that could allow a hacker access to a computer thus, putting them right on your network. With the right support from your IT service provider, getting new applications or updates installed on locked down systems should be a simple task that can be done quickly. Taking this step from the start often proves easier than establishing a lax and open policy and then trying to change things later.
3. Securing Access on Mobile Devices
Mobile devices promise to encourage collaboration and increase efficiency for every company. There is often the tendency to embrace this technology wholeheartedly without considering the consequences of having widespread remote access to your data. Data security best practices dictate that limiting the number of access points to your data is always a good policy. Plus, the kind of complicated data that is being produced in your laboratory has a limited utility when it is viewed on miniaturized mobile devices. Keep as much of your data as possible in-house by restricting access to it on your employee's smartphones and tablets. Should you allow access to email and data on employees personal devices consider implementing a Mobile Device Management (MDM) application and policy that allows you to enforce certain measures, like having to use a passcode to unlock the device, as well as allowing you to wipe your email and/or data off a stolen device or off the device of a terminated employee.
With diligence and initial preparation, and the right IT partner, you can have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your laboratory data, internal reports, board presentations and financial information is safe from the minute you go into business. Making an initial investment in data security can protect your company from devastating security breaches down the road. Also, don’t forget to build this security mentality into your corporate culture and company handbooks, get everyone to buy into protecting this most valuable asset. To find out more about data security and the IT needs of your company, read our new white paper “After the Seed: Planning IT Investment for a Biotech Startup.”