How to turn IT security into a competitive advantage

Article by The Final Step

Here at TFS we help businesses protect their digital assets and keep running smoothly, even in the face of IT security threats. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: IT problems are business problems. How you approach your IT policy, infrastructure and processes should always come back to your business needs and goals. You should, therefore, approach IT security in the same way.

IT security is good for business

Most businesses don’t realise that good IT security gives you an edge over competitors. Thales, a leading multinational aerospace company, says:

…Even cyber-aware organisations can be unfamiliar as to how good cyber security can be good business. Concerns over risk and cost too often prevail over recognising how good cyber security can be a source of comparative advantage, a product differentiator, a brand asset, and a business opportunity.

The reality is that IT security standards can have a huge impact on your business. They affect your brand reputation, customer satisfaction and ability to win (and keep) new business. A survey of small businesses and consumers conducted by Cyber Streetwise and KPMG found:

  • 83 percent of consumers worry about how businesses access their data
  • 58 percent said a security breach would discourage them from engaging with a business in the future

The majority (94 percent) of managers think IT security is important when awarding projects to suppliers, according to KPMG. A security failure would prompt 86 percent to consider terminating a contract with a supplier.

How to get more value from IT security

Investing in good IT security is a critical factor in the success of your business, so here are some simple measures you can put in place to boost your IT security:

  • Email signing and encryption. Signing an email puts a stamp of authenticity on your correspondence. It also confirms that a message is actually from you and that its contents are safe to download. Furthermore, encrypting your emails through third-party software helps to keep your messages safe from prying eyes.
  • File encryption. Encrypting your files helps prevent data breaches, malware attacks or any other security incident. It’s quite easy to encrypt your files and keep them safe with third-party encryption software.
  • EV SSL Certificates. An extended validation (EV) SSL certificate on your site proves that you’re a verified legal entity and therefore shows that you have the appropriate rights to manage your domain(s) and content. It uses the highest level of authentication and boosts consumer confidence in your website, increasing sales for B2C businesses and trust in B2B firms. SSL certificates can also help boost your search engine rankings.
  • Firewalls. A firewall is a piece of hardware that controls and filters the traffic that flows in and out of your network. Not only do they help protect you from malicious attacks, they also help to keep out hackers and internet criminals who might try to gain access to your data and (potentially) target others in your network and supply chain.
  • Test restores. You should do a test restore of your existing data backup to prove yourself (and your clients) that you have measures in place to prevent data loss.
  • Education. Training staff in internet safety is one of your best defences against a security breach. Teach them about creating strong passwords, safe browsing habits and how to recognise unsafe links and websites.

Next stop: better security

Remember: IT security is important and can put you ahead of your competitors. You should put these measures in place and review your IT strategy. In doing so, be sure to consult professionals on how best to protect your business and its customers.

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