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Cybersecurity has come a long way. It was initially seen as a business blocker or Dr. No, but now it has become a business enabler. The journey of this technology is an interesting one. A good cybersecurity posture is more than just defending your data. Cybersecurity is more than a cost function. It is a cultural trait your customers will value, and your competitors will envy. Good cyber policies also save time, effort, and resources for many other business functions.
Today it attracts new clients, and not having it has become a deal-breaker.
8 in 10 businesses have expressed fear of losing confidential information due to a breach on their partners, vendors, and other outside service providers. A 2017 report by Vodafone clearly states that 9 out of 10 businesses feel that good cybersecurity practices have a direct impact on increasing customer loyalty and retention. A fact that holds even today!
Role of Compliance
The US government’s initiative to implement the CMMC is a welcome move towards encouraging defense contractors and vendors to adopt better cybersecurity practices.
Although there is no mandatory compliance in many other sectors, many organizations trust vendors with an excellent cyber posture. Vendors are reciprocating the gesture by complying with cybersecurity standards and showing it in their proposals. It is becoming a key and valued competitive differentiator for many companies. With a secure IT infrastructure, you can race ahead of the competition, attract new clients, and retain existing ones.
The UK government-backed Cybersecurity Essentials is one other such program. It certifies the cyber posture of an organization. It also includes an independent validation by an accredited third-party program called Cyber Essentials Plus. The program was developed in collaboration with industry partners, including the Information Security Forum (ISF), the Information Assurance for Small and Medium Enterprises Consortium (IASME), and the British Standards Institution (BSI).
The Cyber Essential certification guarantees an organization’s customers that they have a secure IT infrastructure. The certificate is mandatory for all government vendors. In addition, it has gained a lot of popularity and acceptance in the private sector, although it is not mandatory. It might soon emerge as a cross-industry standard similar to ISO 27001.
Where Can Cybersecurity Play a Role?
Do you still doubt investing in securing your IT infrastructure or maintaining a better cyber posture? Here are a few avenues to leverage and explore if your cybersecurity culture is strong.
Expand to New Geographies
About 120 countries worldwide have data and privacy legislation in place at some stage or another. In addition to the US federal laws, several states in the US are presenting their comprehensive cybersecurity laws. As many as 12 states have a personal data or privacy law in the pipeline based on similar laws in California and New York.
Most of these regulations are based on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) or European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA), or ISO 27001 standards. For companies already following these standards, it is a blessing in disguise to move swiftly and capture the market.
These also present an excellent opportunity to expand your business and acquire new clients. You will have the first mover’s advantage if you are cyber-ready.
Inspire Customer Confidence and Loyalty
A recent report showed that 59% of consumers said they would avoid doing business with an organization that experienced a cyberattack in the past year. It also noted that nearly nine of ten consumers would look at the cyber trustworthiness of a business before purchasing a product or service.
Thinking of cybersecurity as a barrier is bound to open many risks for a business because improper adoption of technology can lead to data loss or breaches. (Read our blog on how inadequate security while cloud migration affected the education sector here).
A well-protected business can confidently move into new growth areas by adopting new technology and innovations to gain a competitive advantage.
Also, a good cybersecurity foundation makes an organization flexible to adopt new technology and innovations without damaging the security infrastructure. Businesses become lively and agile to implement new software and learn new technology. It enables them to stay ahead of the curve and competition. Such organizations can serve their customers better and explore new business opportunities with these technologies.
Keeping a Business Productive
When a business has its security risks to business risks, it becomes the top priority of the cybersecurity team to find the gaps and fix them.
For example, suppose data assurance is a business’s top priority. In that case, an excellent cyber team will ensure no gaps in cloud adoption, data governance, third-party vendor access, and encryption, to name a few. This adds value to other business functions infuses confidence in the entire organization.
Reduce “Shadow IT”
The traditional approach to security restricts the employees from using or exploring new tools to collaborate, communicate and even innovate. It leads to a scenario called “Shadow IT,” where employees resort to means not approved by the IT team to create, store and share information. This is dangerous because it offers a window of exploitation that cannot be audited and accounted for. Hence, most of the IT team’s recourses and productivity goes into stopping these habits than enabling productivity.
Good cybersecurity culture is more than these piecemeal security measures to curb Shadow IT and other such fruitless tasks. The culture of security and care needs to be instilled into every employee and in every process of an organization. Cybersecurity has to become an integral and invisible layer of infrastructure that doesn’t hamper such innovations or waste precious resources. It is essential to think of cybersecurity as an overarching policy.
Faster Recovery from Attacks
This is perhaps the most relevant aspect given the current state of affairs. Having a good incident response plan and a well-prepared team to handle is also part of a cybersecurity policy.
An organization with good cybersecurity culture can bounce back faster in case of an attack. If an attack happens, a cyber-resilient organization is prepared to act swiftly and get back on its feet to become more productive quickly than others.
Resiliency is a trait that every customer will admire and even pay a premium for such a service.
Forget about the push from compliance and mandatory requirements. Maintaining an excellent cyber posture is essential for staying afloat in today’s connected world. Use cybersecurity to your advantage and make it a competitive advantage.
With a victim being claimed by a cyberattack every 11 seconds and an average hack costing about USD 3.5 million, businesses now will only be interested in vendors who can prevent or withstand a cyberattack.
By Virinchi Kashyap Thatipamula, Cybersecurity Evangelist