Does your company have a strong cybersecurity policy in place? What would happen if your company became the target of a cyberattack that resulted in a data breach? Would you recover easily with minimal damage to your customers, or would it be devastating?
It only takes one cybersecurity incident to tarnish a company’s reputation, and it could be permanent, depending on the consequences. For instance, most people haven’t forgotten Target’s 2013 data breach where hackers stole 40 million debit and credit card records. There are some people who still refuse to shop at Target because of this incident.
When your goal is to maintain a positive perception of your company, you need to focus on data security. Here’s how your cybersecurity habits directly affect your company’s reputation, and what you can do to mitigate the potential for damage.
1. Accidents are indistinguishable from being targeted
Your customers or clients won’t see a difference between accidental exposure and your company being targeted by a data breach. The end result is the same—their data gets exposed. Compromised data can lead to serious consequences, and at that point, they won’t care how it happened—they’ll be upset with your company.
This is why it’s important to understand the difference between a data leak and a data breach. While a data breach results from an intentional effort to target an organization and steal data, a data leak can happen simply because of negligence. For example, an accidental database misconfiguration can result in a data leak.
Since all the data you work with can be exposed accidentally, it’s even more critical to implement and enforce internal security policies. Here are some ideas to decrease the potential for an accidental data leak:
- Use secure file storage and sharing. The fastest way to get your data stolen or compromised is to use unsecure methods to transfer and store that data. That’s why businesses use secure, cloud-based storage platforms. For instance, as of 2022, there are 100,000 organizations using Box to fulfil their secure file storage and sharing needs. Box encrypts all data at rest, in transit, and offers multiple security features for protecting files and folders.
- Limit the use of third-party applications. Each time you upload or transfer your data through a third-party application, you’re risking a data leak and/or a data breach. Limit the number of third-party applications you use to transmit and store data. Only use the applications required to complete your work, and condense applications where features overlap. Choose only secure third-party applications where required.
- Implement a zero-tolerance policy for security violations. From the moment each employee is hired, make it clear that data security violations are fireable offenses. It may sound harsh, but employees need to know there’s no room for bad habits and laziness where cybersecurity is concerned. For instance, ensure your workers have unique login credentials and prohibit sharing login credentials for any reason. Although common, shared credentials are a major security risk.
You can’t control data you send elsewhere, so manage your data security by only using secure, trusted applications and enforce your company’s policies without exception.
2. Poor cybersecurity habits lose trust
Building and maintaining trust takes time and hard work, and you don’t want to lose that trust over lax cybersecurity habits. If word gets around that your organization doesn’t implement security on a basic level, you’ll start to lose trust. Connected to a major incident, like a ransomware attack or data breach, people might start to post negatively about your company online. That’s when your reputation will suffer the most.
Online comments and reviews strongly influence where people spend their money. Most customers and leads read reviews before making a purchase, and multiple comments about poor cybersecurity can deter new leads from becoming customers.
For instance, if you experienced a data breach because one of your employees fell for a phishing scheme, people will lose trust in your company.
Protect your reputation with professional cybersecurity
Prioritizing data security is the best way to maintain the trust you’ve worked so hard to build, but you need to consult with a professional to achieve optimal results. Cybersecurity isn’t something you can implement without a budget. You need resources and software to get the job done right.
Since trust builds loyal customers, and customers are your source of revenue, you can’t afford to skip implementing cybersecurity. Your company’s reputation directly depends on your ability to protect customer data from both accidental and intentional cyber threats.