Cybersecurity is a buzzword that’s been swarming around the news and social media with ever-increasing frequency. Recent major security breaches and cyberattacks against big-name companies have resulted in the theft and release of financial and personal customer and company data. These security breaches can cost businesses dearly, not only in lost sales, reparation and legal fees, but also in customer trust and company reputation.
Although it’s often assumed that large corporations are the most likely targets of hackers and security breaches, smaller businesses are also greatly at risk. Tech company Kataku reports that 62 percent of cyber attack victims in recent times have been small- and medium-sized business enterprises. Hackers often assume smaller businesses don’t have effective security measures in place. As a result, security breaches can be disastrous for these smaller companies that may not be able to recover from such a setback.
No matter the size of your business, it’s well worth it to budget for effective security measures. Any company possessing valuable information, such as financial and health records, customer contact information and other sought-after personal and intellectual property is at risk. Investing in information security certifications is an effective way for businesses to take control of employee and customer data, as well as vendor and financial information, to ensure that it remains secure.
While maintaining valid security certifications is not required for businesses, the benefits to all parties involved are immeasurable.
1. Security of Valuable Data
Hackers and cybercriminals are after one thing: information. Data security breaches are happening more frequently with companies’ increased reliance on technology to conduct their everyday business operations. The quantity of personally identifiable information (PII) they must store on their networks is immense and especially valuable to hackers.
This type of information can include:
- Member names and birth dates
- Phone, bank account and social security numbers
- Email and physical mailing addresses
- Identification numbers and passwords
- Clinical and claims information
Data thieves use PII to commit myriad crimes, including identity theft, credit card and other financial fraud and even blackmail. Think about the potential damage a business could incur if valuable company and trade secrets were stolen and leaked to competitors. For many businesses, this would be enough to curtail them permanently.
While businesses may feel that their valuable information is secure, internal networks can be unknowingly hacked into and have their data stolen through a variety of ways, including:
- Weaknesses in the internal networks of the company, vendors, suppliers and other third parties. Hackers can use these as a “back door” to get into your company’s internal network to steal information.
- Malicious emails and web access via unsecured Wi-Fi. Many times, information is stolen when a company employee unknowingly opens an email attachment or document from a malicious source. Similarly, using unsecured Wi-Fi (i.e. hotspots) can allow private data to be collected and stolen fairly easily.
- Employees and clients remotely accessing company and outside networks through apps and devices. It’s important for companies to carefully select the apps and programs through which clients and employees access company networks.
- Loss or theft of company devices. Lost or stolen company devices, such as laptops, cell phones and flash drives, can be a major cause of security breaches. These devices often contain valuable PII and company data. All devices should be password-protected and carefully managed with education and clear guidelines on their use and handling.
- Internal breaches. These can be accidental or purposeful, and include employees sharing credentials, losing or not securing devices and documents, sending documents to the wrong parties or maliciously misusing sensitive company data.
Businesses must anticipate and prepare for all circumstances in which information could be compromised, and identify all internal and external data security vulnerabilities. One way to take control of your company’s valuable data assets is to invest in IT security certifications. These certifications are issued to businesses by certification bodies after proof that they have developed and maintained strict guidelines designed to keep sensitive data secure.
2. Established Framework and Guidelines
Many businesses are unaware of how to even begin the process of securing their company’s data and obtaining security certifications. An information security management system (ISMS) is a framework that can assist companies in establishing a system for keeping sensitive information secure.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is an agency that develops international standards designed to help companies establish an ISMS. ISO27001 is a standard that involves people, processes and IT systems. It utilizes a risk management process to recognize where security vulnerabilities exist. The standard provides clear guidelines for the development of security policies and best practices for businesses.
Developing an ISMS under ISO27001 involves a six-step process:
- Define a security policy
- Define the scope of the ISMS
- Conduct a risk assessment
- Manage identified risks
- Select control objectives and controls to be implemented
- Prepare a statement of applicability
Businesses wishing to get ISO27001 certified do so through verified agencies that specialize in providing businesses with everything they need, from planning help and personnel training to performing audits and suggesting corrective measures. They provide support during all phases of the certification process and beyond.
Domains covered under ISO27001 include:
- Security policy
- Organization of information security
- Asset management
- Human resources security
- Physical and environmental security
- Communications and operations management
- Access control
- Information systems acquisition, development and maintenance
- Information security incident management
- Business continuity management
Companies receive certification upon a successful review of, and compliance with, ISO requirements. The time required to complete the process varies with the size of the business, and usually takes between two and 12 months. Certifications can last anywhere from one to 10 years.
Fees for achieving and maintaining ISO207001 certification vary according to many factors, including:
- Business size/number of employees
- The current level of the proposed ISMS
- The gap between the current and preferred security environment
- The ability of the business to achieve all requirements
- How quickly the company wants/needs the certification
It is estimated that for the average company with about 75 employees, the average cost of achieving and maintaining ISO27001 certification is about $48,000. For smaller businesses, this figure would most likely be fairly lower. Technology consulting firms and solution companies will work with clients to determine the best security options that fit their needs and budget.
There are many different certifications available for businesses, each covering different domains. This makes it difficult to say which are the best security certifications. Since these certifications are not specific to any particular type of business, they’re ideal for all sizes and industries. The best IT security certifications are the ones that are tailored to your company’s individual needs.
3. Increased Customer Confidence
Having network security certifications for your business matters to your customers. Knowing that your company has taken the measures required to attain a security certification proves to all parties involved that you’re prepared and care enough to keep their valuable information safe. When customers have confidence in doing business with you, your company benefits with increased customer loyalty, positive social branding and continued sales.
The cost, planning and effort that may go into getting your business certified are well worth it when you consider the alternative. In a 2015 study by IBM and the Ponemon Institute, the average cost per lost or stolen record averaged about $154. Actual cost per record varies according to industry, with healthcare and education topping the list. This can add up to thousands, if not millions, of dollars in reparation and legal fees for businesses. For many companies, this is an event from which they can never recover.
Even for companies that have the money and means to repay damages incurred from security breaches, their reputation may never be the same. The IBM and Ponemon study also listed lost business as potentially being the most expensive cost of a data breach. Customers whose data has been compromised may never fully trust that company again, and may choose to take their business elsewhere.
Maintaining solid customer relationships is just as important to a company as any profit margin or sales figure!
4. Strong Company Reputation
Did you know that your business network may be the one through which a hacker gains access to another company’s information? No business wants to be in that position, which could result in expensive legal fees, severed business relationships and a sullied reputation.
Since security breaches often occur between companies and their suppliers, many vendors won’t approve or partner with businesses that don’t maintain current security certifications.
Holding valid security certifications protects all parties involved, since all have strict guidelines and expectations in place for how to responsibly maintain security.
The benefits of investing in security certifications include:
- Commanding a strong business presence
- Increased business reputation among partners and competitors
- Increased company value to partner vendors and businesses who will want to do business with your company
- Sustenance of trusting, long-term business relationships
- Compliance with security requirements in business contracts and agreements
Having compliance with your data management system through security certification proves your company has integrity and holds itself to a high standard. Partner vendors and other third parties know they can do business with your company without the worry of their own sensitive information being compromised.
Holding valid security certifications demonstrates that your company is prepared to play in the big leagues.
5. Ongoing Support and Peace of Mind
Once your company decides to invest in developing an ISMS and obtaining IT security certifications, you may need some help to achieve your goals. Maintaining a company’s network and hardware infrastructure can be a daunting task. Hiring a knowledgeable and thorough technology solutions company is imperative to ensuring your company has what it needs to achieve and maintain compliance with your security certification(s).
For example, after achieving ISO27001 certification, companies are audited yearly and must maintain regular documentation as proof that they are adhering to and implementing all of the requirements set forth in their ISMS. Areas such as acquisition, disposal of hardware, software and budget figures are examined and accurate documentation is required. This is where the importance of proper inventory and asset management comes into play.
Technology solutions companies assist with proper hardware and software acquisition and even the responsible and secure disposal of your company’s outdated hardware. They can help you keep track of your hardware inventory and warranties, and suggest purchasing solutions that can save your business lots of money in the long run. Their services and expertise can alleviate the stress caused by having to maintain your company’s vast technology assets.
At MDSi, Inc., we focus on increasing our customers’ cost avoidance by looking at all aspects of their asset management and reverse/forward logistics programs and initiatives. We utilize best practices, industry trends and innovative solutions to meet cost reduction and efficiency demands.
The services we provide include:
- Assisting in the purchase and sale of new and certified refurbished hardware from a variety of manufacturers
- Assistance in reducing buying costs
- Helping Reduce CAPEX and OPEX spends
- Minimizing excess inventory on hand to reduce purchasing costs
- Managing warranty/RMAs on hardware to minimize supports costs
- Reducing logistics costs
- Decommissioning hardware and returning remaining value back to the customer
- Assisting in asset inventory management to eliminate duplicate purchasing and minimize support costs
- Connecting procurement protocols and engineering buying habits to reduce costs
We are fully client-centered and are proud to offer the lowest-cost supply of hardware. Our team of IT field experts is here to provide technology asset solutions tailored to meet the specific needs of your company. We maintain many prominent safety and security certifications so you can rest assured knowing that your company’s valuable information is safe with us.
Companies should be able to focus on the business at hand without worrying about security issues.
So, while businesses may feel they aren’t at risk for security breaches, or that they don’t have the budget to obtain security certifications, the costs of not investing in them are far greater. The assumption that only large corporations are targets is untrue, and many smaller businesses often find this out the hard way.
Lost sales, severed business relationships, exorbitant legal and reparation fees and loss of company reputation and customer trust are just some of the disastrous consequences that occur after a data security breach. For many businesses, an event like this is irreversible and results in the end of their business.
Developing an ISMS and gaining valid security certifications is a powerful way to keep your company’s internal network and sensitive data safe. It proves to customers, vendors and other third-parties with whom you do business, that you are organized and prepared and willing to take the steps necessary to keep confidential information secure.
Once you’ve made the decision to implement an ISMS and seek security certification, it’s time to get your technology assets and inventory in order. Working with a trusted technology solutions company who will assist in organizing and maintaining your infrastructure is an important first step. Contact us today to discuss our services and hardware solutions.