We live in a world where most people do tasks every day that require transferring some type of sensitive information online. It might entail purchasing something on a website, sending a secure message to a physician, or engaging in online banking, among many other things.
A growing number of individuals are increasingly concerned about the possibility of data breaches. However, if your company takes specific steps to protect data, current customers and potential clients could feel more willing to give you their business.
Government Contracts Require Specific Cybersecurity Minimums
Maybe you’ve thought about trying to secure government contract work. Doing that could be a practical way to generate long-term business and become associated with the kinds of organizations that could build name recognition for your company. However, you may not realize that some government agencies require service providers to show that they meet minimum standards of cybersecurity readiness.
For example, the NIST 800-171 compliance relates to keeping federal information secure that resides within non-federal systems or organizations. Relevant content falls into a category called controlled unclassified information (CUI), and the parties that manage it must show that their organizations take numerous steps to keep it safe. This standard does not require a third-party audit. Companies can self-attest the status to show compliance.
There’s also the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). It has five certification levels representing a company’s cybersecurity preparedness. Becoming CMMC certified does require working with a third-party auditor. Sources indicate that the Department of Defense (DoD) will likely require all contractors to get CMMC certification before October 1, 2025, to seek or secure a contract from the organization.
Regardless of how close you are to aiming for a government contract, the certifications mentioned here could show federal parties and others that you take cybersecurity seriously. That’s a crucial impression to make, given how much modern-day business occurs online or requires securing digital data.
Prioritizing Cybersecurity Earns Customers’ Trust
No matter what kind of business you have, part of your customer engagement strategy probably involves collecting data such as emails and mailing addresses. However, if people don’t believe you’ll do everything necessary to protect their information, they won’t want to provide it. Then, it could become more difficult to provide them with marketing messages or otherwise keep in touch.
However, customers appreciate it if you specifically tell them what your company does to protect their information. Perhaps that means you’ll explain how data gets encrypted in transit or at rest or that your company uses a role-based permissions system so that employees can only see their information if it directly relates to their jobs.
While explaining your cybersecurity strategy, try to use relatable language rather than focusing on too much jargon. Many potential and current customers likely care about cybersecurity, but they could become overwhelmed if the language used seems too high-brow.
It’s also important to realize that you may still deal with cybersecurity challenges while following all of the best practices. In such cases, communicate with customers honestly and discuss any developments that directly affect them. If they need to take actions such as changing their passwords due to a recent breach, provide step-by-step instructions.
The public won’t expect perfection in all cybersecurity matters. But, people will want prompt communication if things go wrong. Giving people prompt updates helps them see you’re on top of the matter and keeping them in the loop as the investigations into an issue progress.
It’s best not to see cybersecurity as something separate that you do to build your business. Aim to see how it supports your other efforts, such as providing excellent customer service or maintaining your data in an accurate and usable format. Then, in turn, your commitments to online security should help grow and maintain your customer base.