5 Ways Startup Executives can Protect Their Ideas

Executive level security involves some serious precautions. For high-profile executives, there are many threats ranging from kidnapping to terrorism, that must be planned for. These VIPs make good targets because they have access to company files that matter.

Startups are not as high profile, and usually don’t deal in that kind of volume. Their ideas are nevertheless sought after. Protecting those ideas becomes an investment in your business. Startups struggle with the question of how to remain transparent to users while keeping the good stuff a secret. These tips are designed to help you put on the PR friendly face and protect yourself at the same time.

Securing Email

Secure communications is a very high priority. Executives should be especially careful of email attachments they download and report any bumps in computer performance immediately. Data leaks caused by keyloggers could give hackers your credentials to accounts and services important to your business. Email may also link to malicious websites where hackers can spoof login pages for important services, like a hosting account, and attempt to steal passwords from you. Also make sure that email connections require the SMTP protocol when in use by different devices.

Changing Passwords

A system of changing passwords regularly helps deter would be hackers, and it keeps each account fresh. Many people hold the same password for all accounts. In truth, it is difficult to remember a series of credentials for different sites. The average user will interact with at least 8 accounts per day, and executives may log into even more sites. You can keep a spreadsheet of passwords (susceptible to physical theft from anyone with access to your computer) or you can try password management online. Using a program to manage your passwords is much better than trusting your memory, and it will keep you from using the same combos for every account.

If you dislike thinking of new passwords, use the password feature of Duck Duck Go to make a new password. For example, a 33 character password request would look like: “password 33 strong” without quotes.

Using VPN Connections

Investing in virtual security provides a firewall designed to keep your traffic private. Virtual Private Networks have the ability to monitor and control the flow of traffic within them. These connections require users to authenticate with the network, and will protect them from certain threats based on rules set by the administrator. VPNs have become easier to set up, though contractors with knowledge of the systems can implement custom solutions that work for your business. According to Trend Micro (www.trendmicro.com), it is important that you find a virtual security system that protects in real time so that you don’t have to stop what you’re doing and perform patch work on your system or your server.

Securing Mobile Devices

The smartphones of executives have become important networking tools, and may contain financial or identifiable information. This private data is important to protect, and is mostly vulnerable to physical theft. There are viruses that exist on mobile systems, specifically Android, so users must be vigilant when downloading new applications. Avoid side-loading applications wherever possible, though this can be difficult for mobile application developers. Always keep your phone with you, and set a passcode lock if possible.

Pitching and Networking

Pitching someone is exciting, but you want to be careful about what you reveal. Develop a pitch based on the primary selling points of your business, not on the process you plan to use. Be careful to rehearse your pitch so that it becomes like muscle memory for your brain. It also helps to have an ice breaker ready, but you want to keep the pitch short and sweet. Try to let your ideas do the talking, and field questions carefully. Investors may ask about your target market or your potential competition, and these are figures you should know. You want to sidestep questions regarding your trade secrets and insider knowledge on what really makes your product or service tick.

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