Pagoda Blog

How to Leverage Cybersecurity as a Competitive Edge for Your Business

February 6, 2020

If your business is outside the tech sector, you may think your cybersecurity practices are best left running in the background, reliable yet unseen. After all, your customers care primarily about the product or service you have to offer, not about the type of security procedures you follow to prevent a data breach. Right? This may have been the case in the past, but today, if given the choice between a company who openly shares their cybersecurity practices and one that assumes security is implied, the customer will almost always choose the former. 


People are increasingly paying attention to how companies handle their private information: How it’s collected, how it’s stored and used, who it’s shared with, and how long it’s kept. By answering these questions for your customers, clearly and up front, not hidden away in some fine print disclaimer, you will stand out from your competitors and shine as a trustworthy company with its customer’s best interest in mind. 


So how do you show the public that you’re committed to cybersecurity without detracting from your primary marketing message? And how transparent do you need to be? Here are 4 tips to help you effectively leverage your cybersecurity practices as a competitive edge for your business: 


Incorporate cybersecurity into company values 


Your IT department or IT Managed Service Provider is responsible for ensuring your cybersecurity practices are up to date and  for implementing certain technical procedures. In order for their efforts to be effective, however, your entire company needs to take part. This requires cultivating a culture that values cybersecurity and makes clear why. 


Take the time through meetings, workshops, and email reminders to help your team understand why cybersecurity is critical to your company’s success and your ability to best serve your customers. Emphasize that it only takes one employee’s mistake to open up the entire company to a data breach. Hackers target companies, and even entire cities, by going after vulnerable individuals. They prey on the weakest link, counting on just one employee to click on a bad link or share their username and password with a hacker posing as an internal team member or department. This is why employees in all departments need ongoing, regular cybersecurity training to ensure your defenses are always up. 


On your website, include your commitment to cybersecurity and regular team trainings somewhere conspicuous like your About Page, and emphasize that this is a cornerstone of your business. (See an example of this language on our About Page, under 'Our Philosophy.') Gain the trust of your customers by demonstrating that you never take their data for granted and that you always try to stay one step ahead of the latest security threats. 


Related post: Are you doing all you can to protect your customer data? 


Create a public data breach policy


Data breaches can happen to any company, no matter how careful you are. It’s still crucial to do all you can to mitigate the risk, but also be prepared for the worst so you can keep any damage at a minimum. Create a plan that details how you will react in the case of a data breach and share the plan with your customers. 


How will you notify them? What safeguards do you have in place to prevent a data breach in the first place? With breaches becoming more common, even with high profile companies like Target and Equifax, customers want assurance that you will protect their information to the best of your ability. 


Practice what you preach  


It’s one thing to say that you’re a company committed to cybersecurity and data privacy and quite another to walk the walk. Before you publicly promote these values, go through a checklist with your IT department or IT Managed Service Provider to make sure you have the necessary safeguards in place. Below are some examples of where to start: 



Make  your cybersecurity practices public


This is where you tell the world about your commitment to cybersecurity. Whenever you ask for personal data, even if it's just an email address, explain how you plan to use that data and assure your customers that you adhere to cybersecurity best practices to keep that info as safe as possible. For example, when someone signs up for our newsletter, we include the following language:


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This language adheres with GDPR requirements and demonstrates our commitment to transparency and data privacy. You can also include a link to your about page where you may choose to summarize your cybersecurity practices as part of your company values. 


Don’t make promises you can’t keep 


No matter how thorough you are with your cybersecurity practices, you can never guarantee that your data is 100% safe. Phishing tactics are constantly evolving, and hackers can often find ways to access sensitive information through third party apps, plugins, or the CEO’s smartphone. Even government websites are susceptible to cyber attacks. Instead of promising customers that your website is 100% secure, explain that you are adhering to cybersecurity best practices to ensure their data remains private. 


Cybersecurity is an ever evolving field that requires daily vigilance and company-wide awareness. Fortunately, hiring the right IT support for your business, implementing robust cybersecurity practices, and staying informed of the risks can help prevent data breaches and mitigate the damage should a breach occur. Openly sharing your commitment to protecting your customers’ data will set your business apart and give you a reputation as a business people can trust.    


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