Don’t Allow Cyber Threats, Network Outages, and Data Loss Events to Destroy your Brand Equity
Cyber attacks are more sophisticated than ever before, and data loss is a growing concern for businesses of every size in every industry. Small and medium-sized businesses continue to face the same types and frequency of information security breaches as larger enterprise organizations – 74% of small and medium-sized businesses reporting that they had suffered an information security breach in the last 12 months, according to a UK Government Report. Most of these attacks impact email, network and sensitive data in their on-premises technology infrastructure and many of these businesses struggle to recover.
Couple data loss events with network outages and it puts companies with on-premises business applications and customer data at an even higher risk. Many small and medium-sized businesses purchase network connectivity from a single provider. If the provider's network infrastructure is attacked, they may have outages that could impact employee productivity and client access to services. This results in large financial losses during outages and puts your company’s brand at risk.
One IT security event could destroy your brand equity.
In 2017, the WannaCry attack was one of the largest ransomware attacks spanning more than 150 countries and 200,000 machines across numerous industries. The virus targeted outdated Windows software and completely locked down computer systems until money was paid to the hackers. Companies could not access machines, websites and important files to serve their customers and conduct regular business activities until the money was paid to unlock the files. Any time your clients cannot access your website, are unable to complete financial transactions or lose trust in your business, it puts your brand equity at risk.
In September 2017, Equifax announced an identity theft event that could have potentially impacted more than 145 million U.S. consumers, and information theft of up to 45 million British citizens and thousands of Canadian citizens. Not only did this event impact Equifax’s revenue, but it also impacted their brand equity with businesses and consumers alike, which could create long-term marketing and financial challenges for the company.
What is Brand Equity, and why it is critical for IT?
Most people equate brand equity to your logo and company name. Brand equity is made up of multiple pieces: 1) Brand Loyalty, 2) Brand Awareness and 3) Brand Associations, including perceived quality. You are most likely asking the question, “Why is this important to IT and IT Security?”
Brand Loyalty is all about ensuring your customers have a positive experience so that they keep coming back to you. When an event happens within your infrastructure, you will need to reassure your internal and external customers that you can recover from the event and that it had minimal impact on your business and their data. If you have a major event, like Equifax, it will impact your ability to keep existing customers and even your ability to attract new ones.
Brand Awareness is known in marketing as the activities that lead to customers liking your product, service or brand. If your organization makes marketing investments, they are spending human and financial resources to build visibility that helps gain consideration in the market. The moment you have an event that impacts your customers, clients or employees, the resources that went into building awareness are essentially wasted since your ability to attract new customers will be limited.
Brand Associations, including perceived quality, is one of the reasons customers buy from you and how you differentiate/position your products and services. When your customers associate a data loss event like Equifax or another similar event, it will change what might have been a positive attitude/feeling towards your brand (business) to a negative attitude/feeling about doing business with you.
Many organizations either wait until something happens or have the attitude “that won’t happen to us,” but, according to the UK Government Report, 74% of small and medium businesses and 90% of enterprise organizations will have an event at some point. There is no reason to put your brand equity and position in the market at risk when you can improve your cybersecurity by partnering with a Managed Network Security provider to help you mitigate the risk of having an event.
There is a common statement made in the IT security space of “It’s not if you will have an event; it is when you will have an event.” Having proper security measures in place will not necessarily prevent you from having an event, but it will certainly help you recover faster and have greater visibility around those events.
Considerations for small and medium businesses.
Managing Network Security in-house can be a major undertaking and requires considerable knowledge to ensure your network infrastructure is protected 24x7x365. Network Security is more than just firewall configurations; it requires deep knowledge of compliance regulation, traffic analysis, virus and spam eradication and many other complex concepts. Many organizations choose to partner with Managed Network Security service providers to provide the guidance and expertise that your internal resources may not have.
A few items every organization should consider when trying to determine whether to use a Managed Network Security service provider:
1. Data Identification - There are plenty of items that could be considered confidential within your business including business-critical information, client information, and employee information. All organizations have business-critical data, which must be protected at all times. Before you implement a data loss prevention strategy, you must define what business-critical means for your organization. You must understand the difference between the areas of greatest concern versus the areas of greatest exposure.
2. Data Loss Prevention – Most small and medium-size businesses do not have the IT resources dedicated to monitoring and managing security issues. By outsourcing your network security to a service provider, it allows your organization to focus on your business-critical processes and daily activities. Partnering with qualified professionals can also assist in developing your policies and conducting regular monitoring and management.
3. Education – Once data loss policies are defined within your organization, it is important to educate your entire organization on how data could be exposed, and how to prevent it. Many organizations do not make security a priority, which adds to the challenge. Security policies should be communicated to every employee in the organization. Your policies should be practical while addressing which pieces of information are considered confidential within your organization and to your customers.