Reputation Nation: cyber security & brand protection

Your brand’s reputation can make or break your business. It’s sort of like your credit score.

A positive reputation drives sales growth and success. Customers and potential partners trust that you are safe to do business with and will deliver on your promises.

But your reputation can also be easily undermined if you don’t take the right precautions. Just think of the big-name brands that have suffered cyber attacks in recent years:

TalkTalk. Sony. Nintendo. Twitter. EasyJet. Financial records were stolen. Client details were released. Their reputations suffered accordingly.

Don’t let this happen to you. Here are the critical areas an established business needs to address if you want to protect your reputation from cyber threats:

Brand reputation and cyber security – steps to take

1) Train your team (to spot phishing, social engineering and more)

It’s sad to say that the weakest links in most cyber security set-ups are the humans that use them every day. It’s all very well and good having cyber security systems that are the best they can possibly be. But it’s worthless if the people using them accidentally give out vital information to bad actors.

Train your team to recognise and know what to do about things like phishing emails, social engineering designed to elicit information, spam, and ransomware. Not to mention how important it is for them to bear in mind what data they have access to and who they are talking to when they discuss it.

Your team needs to be properly trained in all these cyber security essentials. Sony’s big loss of reputation back in 2014 occurred when attackers sent emails to Sony employees that appeared to be from colleagues. Altogether, Sony lost financial records and other files totalling over 100 terabytes of data.

2) Improve authentication and passwords

Any major organisation that isn’t using at least 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication) these days is asking for trouble.

Two-Factor Authentication is sometimes called two-step verification or dual-factor authentication. One of these authentication factors is almost always a password, which should be strong and created with all sensible password practices borne in mind. The other factor is usually:

  • A keycard or other physical token
  • A specific smartphone or another mobile device
  • An “inherence” factor, such as a retinal or fingerprint scan
  • A location factor, meaning your system cannot be logged onto unless the person doing so is in the right location

Replacing your security processes with this modern standard is a vital part of achieving most cyber security accreditation, such as the UK government-supported Cyber Essentials scheme. This is a must for companies that want to do business with the government or the many other organisations that expect their partners to achieve these standards.

3) Use the right cloud-based systems (and plan for the future)

Being on the cloud can be one of the best ways to protect your data and your customers’ information. Choosing the right option for your company can often be a challenge though:

Which solutions offer the best benefits for a company of your size, the processes you use it for, or the cyber security standards you need to meet?

Most smart businesses these days use managed services to handle the problem. A replacement of the “fix when broken” IT support of yesteryear and the solution to limited or busy in-house IT departments, managed services usually include a cohesive analysis of the technology and systems your company uses with a view to maximising the return you get from them.

Many managed services also include future planning in the form of IT roadmaps and other similar practices to ensure your tech is always doing what you need it to, including everything necessary to protect your reputation.

4) Achieve cyber security accreditation

Cyber security accreditation schemes like Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus are designed to demonstrate that a business has put in the groundwork to protect themselves, clients, and potential partners from cyber threats.

Accreditation schemes like this also give you an easy checklist of standards to be aiming for if you want to know that you have those vital protections in place around your business to safeguard your reputation.

Work with your usual IT partner or managed service provider to make sure that you have met all the standards expected by a scheme like this and you will be well on your way to a fully protected business.

5) Put the right monitoring in place

With a team that knows how they need to act, the right authentication practices, the right cloud-based systems, and processes that meet a standard like Cyber Essentials, you should have done everything you can to protect yourself from the kind of cyber attacks that have been such brand reputation disasters for some of the biggest names.

But you also need to institute smart monitoring practices. This is another area where managed services often come into play for modern businesses, taking over network monitoring in order to provide remote or even in-person responses to issues as they arise, usually before you even know there is a problem.

Looking to protect your business’s reputation from cyber threats?

Dial A Geek is already trusted by nearly 1000 businesses in and around Bristol to do just that.

Find out about our Protect & Grow managed service here. Plans include everything you need to achieve Cyber Essentials accreditation, get phishing awareness training for your team, and more. Speak to our Director Gildas Jones today to see how we could help your business. Book your appointment here.