How do you view cybersecurity at your business? Is it something you leave to the IT department? Do you consider it a preventative measure, on hand, to ensure your business doesn’t lose out a significant amount of revenue? Or is it actually an important factor for growth?
For businesses that are prioritizing rapid growth, cybersecurity is now considered an area you should continuously invest in as part of your overarching strategy. Here’s why small businesses can win more customers by adopting a proactive cybersecurity strategy.
Security Builds Trust
When your perception of cybersecurity changes to be more than just a means of protection, you can see how investment leads to a return. As customer awareness of data collection increases, so does the expectations placed on you as a business.
Customer priorities and trust signals are always changing, and security is making its way up the list with 70% of consumers saying that they would look elsewhere if a business suffers a data breach .
What this means is that having the right policies in place to protect your data isn’t just about the immediate revenue hit you’d take if a breach were to occur; it’s about the lasting damage your reputation could take. An IBM study estimates that every stolen record cost a business US$148—a figure that is rising every year. On top of the immediate cost, how many businesses can afford to lose 70% of their customer base, and scare away countless more potential customers in the future? 
Thankfully, businesses are becoming aware of security’s importance where 69% of small- to medium-sized businesses say that they are already realizing that data and information security has a significant impact on their business .
Trust Wins Customers
Securing your customer’s data is only the first step to fully realizing the benefits of cybersecurity. Once you’ve sufficiently safeguarded against cyberattack, you need to let your customers know.
How do you go about telling your customers how fortified your businesses’ security protocols are? You can start by placing trust signals in areas where you communicate with the people who use your product or service.
If you’ve recently added a new validation to securing your company data or have partnered with a security-intensive company that deals with your customer transactions, you could place these new certifications in prominent places on your website.
You could also build those trust signals into your marketing. Use security as a central message in your communications with customers and let them know you’re a business that people can put their trust into.
Cybersecurity can mean more to your business than just the protection of data. About 89% of businesses say better information security helps them to win more customers . As a key point of differentiation from competitors, new customers will use security as one of the many considerations when choosing who to hand their money over to. If you have the upper hand, you’ll find security-conscious customers choosing your product or service.
Customers Bring Referrals
Data leaks, or questionable handling of public data, can have a catastrophic effect on the perception of a brand. You only need to look as far back as last year’s Facebook data scandal to find an example of a big business’s trust rating taking a significant blow. The social media firm’s value dropped by US$25 billion in the days after the scandal, a clear example of how bad data handling leads to negative headlines .
But you can get ahead of the game. Strong, reliable, and trustworthy information security leads to positive conversations about your business. Earn the trust of your current customers and they’ll be much more likely to bring more people onboard.
Four Ways to Become a Proactive Cybersecurity Business
Transforming the way your company thinks about cybersecurity requires efforts from everyone at the organization. Here are four things every business can implement to initiate that shift.
1. Take a Holistic Approach
Consideration of cybersecurity implications needs to be introduced at every level of decision-making. There are areas of your business where you might not have considered the potential security concerns—think recruitment or the launch of a new brand strategy. Invite your cybersecurity leader to consult on these less relevant areas; they will likely identify considerations you hadn’t previously thought about.
2. Create a Proactive Culture
A business that considers itself proactive when it comes to cybersecurity requires buy-in from the entire workforce. Leave it to be the exclusive responsibility of the IT team, and you leave yourself wide open to data leaks.
Adopting a proactive culture begins at the top. Get everyone onboard by holding regular training sessions and workshops. Everyday working activities bring risks that not everyone will be aware of. Raise awareness and introduce better cybersecurity practices for simple things, such as passwords and phishing detection.
3. Don’t Ever Stand Still
This is where proactivity really comes in. The threats that are hunting down your sensitive data are evolving all the time, and so should you be. Review and test your cybersecurity policies regularly, adapting to account for new trends. Each time something changes, remember to hold another company-wide security meeting.
4. React if Necessary
No matter the level of investment you do in securing your company data, breaches can still occur. If it does happen, you’ll need to move fast to limit the damage to your business’s trust.
If you can point to a body of evidence that suggests you’ve done all you can to avert the dangers of a data leak, you’ll stand a better chance of retaining customers who might have otherwise gone elsewhere.
Source https://www.gemalto.com/press/pages/majority-of-consumers-would-stop-doing-business-with-companies-following-a-data-breach-finds-gemalto.aspx  https://www.ibm.com/security/data-breach  https://lab.getapp.com/trust-me-how-to-win-customer-loyalty-with-proactive-security/  https://www.vodafone.com/business/white-paper/cyber-security-research-the-innovation-accelerator  https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/facebook-cambridge-analytica-personal-data-breach-stock-shares-slump-latest-updates-a8263386.html
About the Author
Will Hinch is a contributing writer at business software review site GetApp. A tech blogger for a number of years, Hinch has covered everything from the latest industry news to reviewing new consumer releases. Today, he writes about the future of various tech industries, analyzing how new trends are affecting consumer habits and impacting businesses.