Chances are, if you are bidding on new business today, you’re being asked to fill out vendor security questionnaires and to demonstrate alignment, or even compliance, with your potential (and current) customers’ security programs, industry regulations, and risk appetites.
That makes sense, because third parties like your organization can be a huge risk to the companies that might become your customers and companies know it -- making potential customers wary of who they do business with. According to a recent report by the Ponemon Institute, 51% of businesses have suffered a data breach caused by a third party, with 44% suffering a breach within the previous 12 months.
Unfortunately, your organization poses these risks even if the products or services you provide don’t directly access or process your customers’ data. Any attack that compromises your operational processes puts your company (and its customers) at risk. For example, your customer is likely worried about any operational disruption at your company that might arise from a ransomware attack, the accidental theft of credentials through phishing, or purposeful disruption through insider threats. The bottom line is that any incident that affects the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of your operations also impacts your customers.
As a result, companies have hardened their vendor vetting and onboarding processes, which helps them, but not you if your company is not geared up to deal with the impact and consequences of today’s more rigorous vendor security processes.
Endless Fire Drills
If you are a small to medium-sized business without a large security team or even a CISO, it’s possible that your employees have limited (or painful) experience answering security audit questions. Your business may be experiencing the adverse impacts of giving suboptimal answers, whether just improperly phrased or objectively poor. While we are at it, think of the operational impact of having employees, whose jobs may be entirely divorced from cyber, answer technical security-related questions. How can they possibly reach audit-proof answers when most people in that position would wonder whether “we can just copy/paste answers from our public cloud provider’s SOC 2 report - right?”.
That’s a recipe for confusion, chaos, and concern at a time when consistency, confidence, and credibility win the day. Ad hoc responses cost you time and money, and they’re certainly no way to build customer trust to win new business and establish a professional relationship.
Gaining Confidence And Winning Trust
What’s needed is expert, professional advice and guidance to manage how you communicate to external stakeholders about your security posture, particularly if you are not yet SOC 2-compliant or ISO-certified. In some cases, you might be doing the right things by your external stakeholders and are simply unprepared to answer the questions. In other cases, where there’s smoke, there is actual fire and customer security auditors have legitimate concerns.
Regardless of your actual ability to mitigate your customers’ cyber risk and your own, we find that many companies start a formal security program because of external pressure from prospects and customers. The simple fact is that you must prove you have an acceptable level of security to win customer trust – regardless of what size company you are.
That’s when it makes sense to bring in a professional services organization like IOmergent. We were designed from the start to help companies accelerate growth by winning customer trust through demonstrating a strong security posture aligned to mitigate the risks that really matter to your company and your customers. Aligning your security investments with your company’s situation and harnessing security innovation to help you realize your business objectives is our passion.
After conducting an assessment of your risks and security maturity, IOmergent will help you understand what’s really being asked and show you how to frame where your security program currently is, how to discuss gaps with confidence, and create a plan to address them – so you are better prepared with strong answers to sometimes tough questions. We can help you understand the technical implications of what’s being asked, the procedural controls that need to be in place, and barring that, any compensating controls for what might be missing as you build your program. We’ll guide you through the multiple formats of vendor security questionnaires as well as the multiple versions so that valuable context and nuances, which are critical to the customer from a security perspective, don’t get overlooked.
Risk and maturity assessments and standing up customer trust programs can be conducted as standalone projects or as part of a vCISO retainer, where we’ll not only help you understand and communicate your security posture, but also plan your security roadmap and help execute it.
The bottom line is that when you are prepared, your organization looks and acts like the strong partner you want it to be, and that instills confidence with your prospects, customers, investors, board members, and partners. Being able to demonstrate a strong security posture improves your ability to create credibility and comfort with prospects that lead to new business.
So why go through the hassle of trying to interpret the foreign language of cybersecurity when you can rely on experts to translate for you? Let IOmergent do the heavy lifting and elevate your organization’s ability to participate in the vendor vetting process with confidence. You don’t have to go on the customer trust journey alone.
Would you like to see how IOmergent can help your organization build customer trust? Contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation at no cost.