We always talk about the technical elements of cybersecurity, what tools, software, and processes that you should use to protect your business. Cybersecurity and data protection (or the failure to truly consider this as an essential forethought rather than an afterthought) is by far of significant importance today.
Nowadays, a large portion of our lives is spent online, and the amount of information that we share has grown exponentially. This data has huge value to legitimate businesses, but also worryingly to criminals.
Business owners need to apply a greater value and importance to the cybersecurity of their business for many reasons.
Consumers have a greater knowledge, when it comes to security and data privacy, and they can avoid businesses that are careless or do not protect consumer interests when handling their data. This is apparent with the growth of Signal, a major competitor to WhatsApp.
WhatsApp’s growth was based on its increased encryption levels and data privacy, recent updates (outside of Europe) means that more data will be shared with connected businesses (Facebook), whereas Signal is increasing the level of encryption and deletion of messages. Signal’s philosophy surrounding how data is treated is resonating with users, and that is shown by the number of users (including government officials).
When a business does not consider privacy or data security effectively, and then is found out, you can be sure to find your competitors shouting about how secure they are compared.
If your customers can trust that you are looking after their data, and not abusing it, then all other communications become easier. Marketing messages are trusted, consumers are far more willing to go through the purchasing process, and because no business is safe from a data breach, they are far more forgiving.
This all flows from business owners, CEOs, managers all taking cybersecurity seriously.
Data has a value to someone, whether that’s criminals or business, and not taking security seriously can have massive direct and indirect financial implications.
The criminal element
For criminals, getting your data or accessing your systems offers them multiple ways of generating revenue.
- Blackmail/Extortion – a quick and lucrative solution, pay up or we dump your data on the dark web(link), or they have locked you out of your system, pay up and we let you back in.
- Selling your data – a little bit more work for the criminals, but they can sell your data on to other criminals on the dark web.
- Using your data – the criminals can use the data to try and access your customer’s systems and networks, creating new revenue points.
Business owners that protect their database as much as possible are protecting their ability to continue working, but also are protecting their customers from the cybercriminals.
If you have a breach, however small, you are obligated to refer yourself to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), otherwise this can lead to enforcement notices,monetary penalties, and prosecutions.
Last year, Ticketmaster was fined £1.25million for failing to protect customers’ payment details and Experian were ordered to make fundamental changes to how it handles people’s personal data.
Businesses need to also be conscious of how they use their customers data in many cases. Not following GDPR effectively can result in fines and enforcement notices.
Loss of business
If for instance a business has been locked out of their systems, this can stop sales processes in their tracks, this is a direct financial loss to your business. Another consideration is, where do those customers go? A competitor!
The longer-term financial impact is created by the loss of trust.
Alternatively, the data breach can be so significant that a business can no longer function anymore. Data privacy and data protection is regularly being reported in the news and is taken seriously by the large technology corporations. For instance, Apple and Google are making significant changes to Safari and Chrome to reduce the amount of information that is being shared with advertisers, and did you notice how every website tells you about cookie settings and preferences? A pain in the neck for a user, but there to give the user the option to better control their data.
Protect your data
Business owners, CEOs and managers need to ensure that cybersecurity and data protection/privacy is fully considered in all elements of their business. Whether that is your website, your internal systems, the people that you employ and how you treat and store data.
The criminals covet your data; therefore, you should afford it the best protection you can!
IT Security Awareness Training
Our training is designed to understand exactly where your employees are at with cyber security and educate them to understand the cyber threats.
Cyber Essentials is a Government-backed, industry-supported scheme to help organisations protect themselves against 80% of common cyber-attacks.