From recent Electoral Commission hacking to attacks on local authorities, schools, ambulance trusts and major employers including WH Smith, cybercrime is never too far from the headlines. Yet despite such high-profile cases, many businesses continue to operate without sufficiently strong online protection. Here, David Warren, sales director at Newcastle-based Melius Cyber, highlights the need for robust safety mechanisms, to not only guard against threats but pave the way for tangible growth.
Take a minute to think about your business’ objectives. Among the many bullet points on the blueprint for growth, does one focus explicitly on cybersecurity? If not, it should. Because taking proactive measures to guard against IT attacks, through cyber certification, not only help keeps organisations and their data safe, but also increases their prospects of securing new work by strengthening their reputation as a trusted partner.
Cybersecurity certification is a simple, yet powerful, approach to unlocking substantial business growth. And capitalising on the available benefits is in the best interests of all stakeholders – that’s why conversations about cybersecurity should always begin in the boardroom. Cybersecurity certifications, which evidence implementation of controls, prove organisations have protected themselves from threats. Notably, Government backed Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus are the most recognised cyber certifications in the UK, and these are often further reinforced with an information security management system, such as the internationally-recognised ISO 27001. With this evidence comes a range of benefits, which will give you the tools to stimulate growth while handing you a plethora of opportunities.
The value of having excellent cybersecurity is universally recognised across all industries. A significant majority of medium and large businesses are making this a high priority, and it makes sense these organisations would prefer to deal with similarly secure companies that take cybersecurity equally seriously. Medium to large businesses often evaluate the cybersecurity posture of their supply chain partners to minimise risk to their own operations. Certification is a strong indicator of trustworthiness and credibility. Many of these businesses have strict policies in place regarding cybersecurity and often employ compliance officers, which can prevent the signing of contracts if they identify your business as a risk to them, no matter how amazing your product or service is.
Indeed, certification enables organisations to apply for larger business contracts or tenders, and bid through purchasing frameworks, which, without certification, would be closed markets. Being able to evidence your business as secure often leads to winning contracts of higher value and expands your market reach. Similarly, businesses shifting towards a cyber secure structure are unlikely to retain a contract with you if their evaluation shows you have not taken necessary steps. Retaining contracts is crucial for upward growth within your business; lack of pre-emptive action can stifle this by signaling you are not a business to be included in a partner’s strategic plan.
Data breaches occur extremely frequently, often leading to stolen customer data and serious reputational damage. Obtaining Cyber Essentials certification proves an organisation is focused on data protection. Equally, by continually demonstrating dedication to keeping your customers safe, a business fosters a culture of trust and confidence. Ultimately, data is an asset stakeholders have entrusted you to store. Therefore, the responsibility of due diligence and good practice regarding the security of this information is on you. Fulfilling this responsibility strengthens an organisation’s reputation and enhances relationships with customers.
Additionally, becoming certified allows employees to prove to customers that cybersecurity is a core value within your business. This is a strong selling point, which enables the customer to feel safe and in the hands of a company that places their worth highly. Furthermore, your employees will know their data privacy – as a member of your organisation – is respected. If you hold no proof of caring about their data, what message does this convey to staff? Certification enhances the trust and respect between employee and executive team.
There were an estimated 2.39 million instances of cybercrime in 2022/2023 across UK businesses, which only emphasises why every organisation should be thinking about protection. This is probably the very least firms should be doing in their first steps towards becoming cyber secure. This is not something that only happens in statistics, this is a real-life issue with real impact on business growth. Cyberattacks can put a halt on operations for extended periods of time, and in some cases, indefinitely. The impact on profits can be debilitating.
It is commonly found that senior staff are only interested in cybersecurity after an attack has occurred, with the issue treated as a reactive measure, rather than the proactive one it should be. Having a structure that allows for cybersecurity protection is vital for smooth business operations. Certified organisations have taken the necessary steps to protect themselves and those they work with. This significantly reduces the likelihood of an attack, as well as the impact of an attack should one occur. And it is backed up by figures, with certified organisations 60 per cent less likely to make a claim on their cyber insurance.