How Companies Build Reputation
Building a reputation, just like Buffett's quote indicates, lasts a long time. It is built by honoring the deals that the company has with its customers. It is built by having all the necessary licenses, surety bonds and every other paper that shows a company has a spotless track record. It is built by always delivering on time and on target. It is built by honoring one's customers and going out of one's way to help them and keep them safe.
Where Does Cybersecurity Enter the Picture?
You have noticed that the last aspect of a spotless reputation is keeping one's customers satisfied and safe. This is exactly where cybersecurity enters the picture. Namely, in today's world, a large number of companies operate with all kinds of data on their customers. More often than not, these are financial details that are shared when certain transactions are made. In some other cases, customers are more than happy to share some even more personal data, such as their health records and so on.
In cases when a company suffers a data breach of some kind, all of this data is compromised and this makes for a serious violation from the customer's point of view. They entrusted your company with their sensitive information and now it is in the hands of a criminal or an entire criminal organization that can do with this data in any way they want, often using this data to commit fraud or simply steal money.
Your customers feel betrayed in such a situation and you can rest assured that your reputation will suffer. They will tell everyone they know about how your company lost their data. They will go online and they will share their story.
You will try to explain and apologize, but the damage will have been done.
Even if you do not lose your customers' data, there are other ways in which your company's reputation can suffer as a result of a cybersecurity breach. For instance, you might have to close down shop until you address a breach and make sure you are no longer compromised.
Sometimes this cleanup process can last for a long time. During that time, you are unable to provide the services or the product for your customers. In other words, you are unable to honor the responsibilities that you have for your customers.
Once again, you can try to explain the situation to them, but it is not really something they will bother trying to understand. They understand that you are not providing the service or product they paid for.
And again, you are in damage control mode, but it is of little use.
So, what chance do you have?
Better Safe than Sorry
The easiest way to keep your reputation unharmed is to put the clamps down when it comes to securing your company online.
Do not get fooled, this is not an easy task. If it were, everyone would do it.
For one, you will have to make sure your employees understand cybersecurity and what it means for their jobs and their careers. They need to become personally invested in the cyber-wellbeing of your company. You should also have a policy that will clearly identify people's responsibilities when it comes to cybersecurity. You cannot afford to have someone share their password with a total stranger just because they responded to a social engineered email.
Educate your employees.
You should also keep all of your antimalware software updated and make sure that all of your communication with outside world (your partners, customers, vendors, etc.) is as airtight as your internal systems.
In addition to this, make sure that people are not misplacing their company devices and that they understand how to behave if they do some of their work on their own devices. You would not believe the number of cybersecurity breaches that happened because someone left their notepad on the bus or something like that.
If, even with all of your security measures, your company does suffer a breach of some kind, you need to know how to do damage control. Do not try to hide anything. Your customers have the right to know if their data has been compromised. Also, make sure to report the breach to the authorities and work together with them in order to try and find who the culprit is.
Staying on top of things and being transparent about your breach will save at least some of your face. Breaches happen to the world's largest companies.
People will try to understand.
Site last updated: 8. May 2019