Good cyber security practices are a great way to both build customer trust, safeguard your company’s assets, keep your competitive edge, and avoid potentially disastrous financial problems.
Build customer trust
All businesses have one thing in common: they require customers to be successful. No matter what service or product your company is selling you will only stay solvent if someone is willing to buy it. The relationship between a business and its customers is built on trust: If your customers feel that they can’t trust you, they will take their business elsewhere.
While there are a lot of ways, you can build trust with your customers one of the most important is through good cyber security practices. No matter what your business is, you likely collect at least some data on your customers. Information such as names, addresses, and credit card numbers is necessary for you to build useful customer profiles and better serve your customer’s needs. However, your customers need to know that you are taking steps to ensure their data is safe.
Should your company suffer a breach or get hacked it is also crucial that you are prepared to address the situation quickly and effectively. Customers are more likely to forgive a breach or hack if you are honest with them about what happened, move to rectify the situation quickly and make concrete and actionable changes to improve your cyber security.
Safeguard your company’s assets
If the most important aspect of your business is your customer base, the second most important aspect is your actual product or service. You probably have a lot of information on your company’s network that is intended for employee’s eyes only. In the internet age, proper cyber security is the most effective way to safeguard your company’s assets.
Many hackers and other cyber criminals specifically target small and medium-sized businesses because they assume that they are less likely to have current cyber security protocols in place. Here are a few different examples of attacks your business may encounter.
Businesses that don’t back up their data regularly are vulnerable to ransomware attacks. Ransomware is essentially malicious code that locks you out of your files and refuses to grant you access until you pay. If your business doesn’t regularly back up your data, you might find yourself in a situation where the only way to get back your data is to pay, and depending on how much money the criminal is demanding you might not be able to absorb the loss easily.
To avoid ransomware attacks save as much information as you can on the cloud so that ransomware attacks become ineffective. Any information you can’t store on the cloud should be fully backed up at least once per week, and undergo incremental backups one every day.
Viruses are sneaky. Depending on how they are programmed you may not even know they are there until they have already caused a lot of damage. Viruses can damage programs, steal information, and corrupt data. Even worse, like a flu virus, these malicious programs are designed to spread. If one employee clicks on a suspicious looking link or finds a USB in the parking lot and decides to plug it into their computer, they could inadvertently expose your entire network to a computer virus.
One of the easiest ways to avoid falling victim to a computer virus is to have antivirus software and keep it up to date. Antivirus software is specifically trained to look for virus signatures and block suspicious programs and applications. You should also teach your employees how to spot and flag suspicious emails and the importance of alerting your cyber security team if they find things like USBs left in the parking lot.
Phishing scams are ploys to try and trick people into divulging private information. Maybe it is an email from a “client” asking you to help them login to their account, or perhaps it is a website promising free software that has malware in it. The best way to avoid falling victim to a phishing scam is to have a robust spam filter and ensure your employees have proper training. Make sure all employees understand what to do if they encounter a suspicious email, and what sort of information they can and cannot share over email.
Cryptojacking is when an unauthorized person uses someone else’s computer to mine cryptocurrencies for them. Typically it is in the best interest of the crypto jacker to stay hidden, siphoning off just a little bit of processing power and electricity from each victim. While this may seem relatively minor compared to phishing, viruses and ransomware, it is still something your company should be concerned about. If someone can make your computer mine cryptocurrencies for them, they already have too much access.
The best way to protect your company against crypto jacking is to scan all ingoing and outgoing network traffic and block or quarantine devices that may be infected with malicious code. You should also block any unsanctioned instances of cloud apps (even those that are well known or sanctioned).
Maintain your competitive edge
Good cyber security practices are also imperative to maintaining your company’s competitive edge. Though corporate espionage sounds like something out of a movie it does happen. Unscrupulous companies who want to gain a leg-up on their honest competition may try to hack into that company’s computer networks and find proprietary or sensitive information.
The best way to keep unauthorized users out is to have a robust cyber security system in place and keep it up to date.
Avoid financial disaster
A breach or hack can do more than compromise your assets, cause you to lose your competitive edge, and upset your customers. It can also spawn a range of financial consequences that you may not be equipped to deal with.
If your company does experience a breach and it isn’t handled correctly, you may find yourself on the receiving end of a lawsuit. Depending on the amount of damage caused, how many people are affected, and whether or not you did everything possible to avoid the breach or hack you could be forced to pay more money than you can afford. Even if you end up winning a long, drawn-out court case diverts funds and other resources away from the company and can damage your reputation.
The recent introduction of GDPR legislation has increased cyber security awareness around the world. These stringent new cyber security laws mean that the punishment for breaches is harsh and swift. Companies that do not comply with GDPR standards fail any GDPR audits, or experience any data breaches can be fined up to 4% of their annual revenue or €20 million, whichever is higher. Even companies that simply fail to produce the appropriate records when asked can be fined up to 2% of their annual revenue or €10 million, whichever is higher.
Loss of business
A hack or breach can shake your customer’s confidence in your ability to keep their data safe. If customers feel that you are not willing to take the necessary steps to safeguard their data, or are unable to rectify the situation correctly, they may be inclined to take their business elsewhere.
A good reputation can make a business, while a bad one can break it. To keep your reputation intact, maintain customer trust, and avoid potentially catastrophic financial pitfalls it is important to make sure your company’s cyber security is comprehensive and up to date.