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Cyber Crime VS Your Brand: There’s Only One Winner

1 November 2017 09:53

Managing your company brand is more difficult than ever in the 21st century, and for a number of reasons. But make no mistake about it - a cyber security breach can irreparably damage your brand image.

How a cyber attack can affect your brand image

The blame has shifted from the criminal to the victim

In past times, a business being a victim of cyber crime would likely draw some level of sympathy from bystanders. But nowadays, cyber crime is so prevalent and so warned upon that blame is often aimed towards the brand, rather than the perpetrators.

As right or wrong as this may sound, companies are making a big mistake when failing to recognise the risks of having their brand image tarnished during a breach. Customers now have much easier access to the misdoings and security breaches of businesses they deal with, giving them plenty of ammunition to fuel the blame.

Bad security practice and negligence is where most of the anger and frustration stems from.

It all boils down to bad security practice

A 2016 study was conducted by CSO and OnePoll in the hope of understanding the sort of impact that poor security standards had on a company’s brand image - and their findings were hardly comforting. 86 percent of customers reported their likelihood to conduct business with a company that suffered a security breach involving customer financial information as: “not at all likely,” or “not very likely”.

The simple fact is - many customers and clients now realise that negligent security standards are incredibly harmful to their own sensitive information, so businesses will face serious repercussions in the event of a breach.

         Similar read: Malvertising - A plague for online ads

Bigger brands suffer, but smaller ones really suffer

US retailer Target is a prime example of how a security breach can cause some torrid circumstances for even the biggest corporations. Their sales ended up plummeting by 46 percent immediately after their 2013 attack, with customers under the impression that Target responded inappropriately to the data breach.

But, although the bigger fish tend to fry harder than they could ever imagine, the damage to them is often temporary and minimal. For smaller businesses, it’s a whole different story.

A report by KPMG last year found that 89 percent of small businesses claim their reputations suffered as a result of a breach. A much more damning statistic, however, was conducted by the National Cyber Security Alliance.

In 2016, they found that 60 percent of small businesses collapse within six months of a security breach, yet less than a quarter of smaller to medium-sized businesses rate cyber security as one of their top priorities.

Clearly, many businesses aren’t taking adequate precaution until it’s too late.

Taking steps (before it’s too late) is key

There’s plenty of initial simple steps a smaller to medium sized business can take to ensure best practice. Take a look at this essential 10 step guide which covers the importance of protecting your business in each key aspect of cyber security - from the technological and human elements of security to getting Cyber Essentials certified and working with third parties.

         Read next: An SME’s Quick 10-step guide to cyber security

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