In the wake of numerous high profile digital security breaches, customers are more concerned with data security than ever before – and that means businesses need to make the issue a top priority. Failure to do so, and any resulting security shortfalls, can damage the reputation of your business and negatively impact your profits.
At every step, from site design to enterprise IT selection, businesses have to be in tune with the specific security demands and expectations of their client base, so take the time to familiarize yourself with their concerns. Then act – how can you better protect your clients and your brand?
One of the most important places for companies to shore up their security practices is the login portion of their websites. Although we’ve seen a steady increase in password requirements, such that many now need to include special characters, most sites are still reliant on single-factor verification systems. A move to two-factor or multi-factor verification enhances security and isn’t difficult to implement, even for small companies.
Be Threat Aware
If you’re a small company without a dedicated IT department, ask yourself who’s responsible for activities like updating the anti-virus software or backing up customer data. Do you know the answer? Too many small businesses leave these activities to chance and fail to institute adequate data protection procedures. Now is the time to directly assign these tasks to a staff member and then set a schedule. New viruses emerge daily, so you can never be too vigilant.
Start at the Top
Unlike small businesses, big corporations may know who’s in charge of their security infrastructure, but that doesn’t mean industry giants are off the hook when it comes to data protection. In fact, many CEOs at major companies are guilty of entrusting IT issues to the chief information security officer or equivalent individual without learning anything about the issues themselves. Information security literacy is a must for everyone in a leadership position.
It’s time to put data security on your board meeting agenda and begin educating key team members before a problem emerges. This is a leadership issue that needs to be addressed at an enterprise level, and customers want to know that the people at the top care about their information privacy.
It’s also worth noting that studies have demonstrated that preemptive board involvement also reduces the ultimate cost of record breaches. On average, companies saved $5.50 per lost file when the board was engaged with security issues, a non-negligible amount, even for large companies.
The Laws of Loyalty
Ultimately, what keeps a company, large or small, afloat is their ability to maintain customer loyalty, but security breaches are a leading reason why customers switch between comparable companies. This may be especially true in the case of small businesses, which are often seen as less able to offer protection against cybersecurity threats. These smaller companies, therefore, need to be especially transparent about their security practices if they want to maintain customer loyalty.
In other cases, customers may find it inconvenient to change companies due to a security breach – who’s to say anywhere else will be an improvement – but they also may refuse to recommend a retailer or bank where they’ve experienced a privacy infraction. Customer loyalty and referrals are key to a company’s growth and profitability, so it’s important to offer security protections and remedies that bolster customer confidence in your brand.
At the end of the day, living in a time of increased digital risk should be making us all wiser consumers, and that includes those at the top: the CEOs, board members, and business owners who decide on key corporate security practices.
High level decisions impact the customers at the bottom, and this trickle down approach to security puts the onus on companies to do right by their clients.