Hundreds of U.S. businesses are hacked each month, such that more than 60 percent of American ventures lose so much data, money and time to cybercrime every year that they fold under the pressure. Yet, many businesses blow off cybersecurity efforts, believing that malware or leaked data will merely be a temporary setback not worth the expense of maintaining digital defenses.
Yet, the public response to attacks is never mild. Public companies — think Target, Yahoo, eBay and Home Depot —that experience data breaches dip in value for weeks if not months. Smaller, local businesses may never recover their customers’ trust and loyalty after a leak. Meanwhile, many consumers are migrating to businesses known to invest in cyber protections. It is abundantly obvious that preventative security not only is worthwhile for preserving a brand’s reputation — but it also might be a tool to enhance that reputation and grow audiences.
Indeed, marketing your cybersecurity efforts is a smart step toward keeping your business safe and proving to customers that you care. Here’s how to market your security effectively — and secure your marketing efforts effectively, too.
Do More Than the Minimum
Thanks to the frequency of cyberattacks and the widespread effects of leaked data, most industries are making moves to regulate how their businesses handle data. An old example of this is HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which dictates how healthcare companies can handle medical information to ensure it remains safe and private. Another example is the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS, or PCI for short) which sets rules regarding how businesses that accept credit and debit transactions can take, process and store customer payment data.
It is likely that your business is subject to some kind of regulation regarding security, and failing to comply with those standards will result in expensive fines (or worse). Certainly, you should strive to adhere to any data protection rules affecting your business — but that isn’t all you should do. Usually, regulations like these are the bare minimum necessary to keep data somewhat safe; there is plenty more you can do to enhance your security strategy and make customers feel even more comfortable giving you their data. A third-party cybersecurity firm should be able to point you toward additional solutions to enhance your security strategy beyond the basic.
Be Transparent With Data Collection
Oftentimes, the first time consumers learn that companies are collecting their data is after a data leak. When this happens, customers are doubly disappointed with the businesses they once supported: first, for collecting data without their knowledge or permission and second, for allowing that data to be stolen by nefarious cybercriminals. If your customers are ever surprised by your data collection practices, you likely will lose a significant portion of your audience — which could result in the ultimate loss of your business.
Thus, you need to be transparent with regards to what data you collect, how you collect it and why. In an email newsletter to your most devoted customers, on a page linked from your website’s “About” section, through your social media posts or via some other method, you should explain clearly and concisely the details of your data collection practices. You should also include all the efforts you are making to keep that data safe. Once thoroughly informed, your customers will feel even more secure in patronizing your business.
Test and Retest for Vulnerabilities
Security is never set-and-forget. Because cybercriminals are constantly changing their methods for getting at your data, you must constantly test your methods for keeping data safe. You should begin testing your defenses as soon as you feel your full security strategy in place, and then you should retest whenever you add or alter your strategy with new tactics or technologies. Over time, changes to your security will occur whether you mean them to or not; updates and patches to software and the addition or subtraction of endpoints can create vulnerabilities and necessitate modifications to your strategy. Thus, you should also test your data security on a monthly or semi-annual basis, depending on the size and scope of your business.
Vulnerabilities can appear not just in your endpoint and network security but across your digital assets. For instance, business websites are often pain points for businesses because most contain dozens of exploits used by cybercriminals to post malware, steal consumer data and more. You could close your website’s vulnerabilities by installing automated website security — but be sure to conduct research on your options first, like reading these SiteLock reviews.
Consumers are becoming savvier about nearly every aspect of business operations — from marketing and sales to employee relations — and most are demanding to see their favorite companies become more serious about security. By integrating your security efforts into your marketing strategy, you will attract praise, build your brand and keep your business safe from dangerous threats.