Cybersecurity and your business’ reputation

If people took the word “cybersecurity” at face value it would be understandable to think that their understanding of its impact on a business stops at the border of digital information. This is an inescapable truth, and indeed the discussion of cybersecurity at first revolved around a company and its customers’ online data. Transaction and financial records, as well as personal and home information have to be protected. But, if one were to take a step back and look at cybersecurity, not just from a strict information security standpoint, but rather a total business standpoint, it’s true nature is revealed.

Imagine doing business with a company online, whether that be purchasing a product, receiving a quote, filling out an application or engaging a service. You provide them with your personal information, where you live, who you work for, what you earn, your preferences and maybe even medical information. You gave this information to them with the understanding that it will be used well and be kept confidential and safe. Now imagine, that same company notifying you and several other clients that their repository of data has been breached, and that your personal data may have been compromised. How would you feel? Violated, regretful, fearful, angry, distrustful, or all of the above? You are not alone, for it is emotions like these that will truly make or break a company in the event of a security breach.

This is not to say that the loss of funds or business that came as a result of the hack cannot be responsible for a business bellying up. It very much can. However, should a company survive the initial shock of monetary loss, they must then fight a battle on two fronts. On one front, they must engage in a technical fight against the cybercriminals. They must plug up the hole in their security measures and enact new policies to make sure that such an act does not happen again. Then there’s the fight to save and maintain the company’s reputation. Money talks, and when people feel like their money or their information is at risk things get ugly, really quick.

The fight for reputation is a multifaceted conflict in and of itself, and is perhaps more complex than doing battle with hackers. Company’s must first calm and soothe the ire of shareholders and investors who literally put their own money on the line to back the company. Then there’s the clients and customers, some of whom may have been affected by the breach. Discussing the situation with these individuals should be done with great care. They are already angry and distrustful of the company for having put their personal data at risk. And then there’s the media and the company’s reputation on the marketplace to worry about. Where the first two categories of people (investors and customers) represent funds and business that already exist, the last represents future business and so should also be treated delicately to ensure the success of the business moving forward.

Ensuring that a company has sufficient cybersecurity is no longer enough. It should be beyond adequate, it should be the best that the company can afford and be able to not just compensate for existing threats, but should also be calculating for future threats as well. Yes, it may cost a significant amount of time, money and resources, but the costs of implementing an inadequate cybersecurity system and policy, may very well lead to the end of such a business.

Article written by Amazing Support. Award winning Managed IT Support & IT Consultancy for SMEs in London, Hertfordshire and Overseas.