Seldom does a single week pass that we don’t hear about yet another cybersecurity attack. Some are minor, but with growing frequency, they can be catastrophic in scale. Cyberattacks threaten businesses at all levels, from the community bank to the publicly traded national energy provider, not to mention the ripple effect these breaches have on stakeholders, shareholders, employees and customers. 

It is one of the most daunting and significant IT tasks to prevent and defend against cyberattacks of every variety, as well as appreciate just how dynamic the evolution of these attacks is. For every brilliant cybersecurity expert, there are two brilliant cybercriminals. 

Naturally and imminently, the questions arise, “What can we do better, and how do we do it smarter?” Many companies aren’t focused on cybersecurity disciplines directly, nor do they know how to optimize their cybersecurity. Therefore, it becomes the customers’ IT and technology partners’ job to focus on the basics, creating a faster and more fluid response for their clients. Let’s look at three ways partners can advise customers on their cybersecurity needs. 

Enhance customers’ knowledge base 

While large-scale attacks on major companies and sovereign governments grab headlines, smaller breaches are commonplace when they shouldn’t be. Whether specifically handling cybersecurity measures for clients and customers or providing information on technology needs, it is an absolute necessity to inform customers of the significant risks of not having proper cybersecurity oversight in place. 

Many of us in the field have come across a recurring issue: small-to-medium-sized businesses, customers and clients don’t believe they’re at risk. Without making them feel uninformed or naive, it would benefit your relationship with a customer to cite a pair of recent statistics. According to a recent survey from BullGuard experts, 60% of small-to-medium-sized businesses believe their company is unlikely to be targeted. However, contrary to that belief is the reality that 20% of small and medium businesses suffer an attack or a data breach. That’s one in five. A 2020 study by Cisco revealed that almost half of these (46%) led to a whopping 5-16 hours of downtime based solely on the breach at hand. Don’t be shy in reminding your customers about this. 

Spark their interest

You will run into businesses that don’t consider cybersecurity a significant priority, but we know it’s one of the most pivotal solutions in your customer’s IT stack. As information technology experts, we sometimes need to guide our customers toward that mindset. When discussing new IT solutions, always be sure to address any aspect of security and point out features, functions, gaps, bugs or outright failures. Examining the numerous types of threats is also essential - anything from simple phishing scams to sophisticated ransomware attacks can have significant consequences. 

If the importance of cybersecurity is still not understood, sparking their interest by discussing the business repercussions of a cyberattack may get their attention. Financial implications are a devastating result of cyberattacks, especially if financial information or money is stolen or if system repair is necessary following the breach. The publicity from a cyberattack can also damage a brand’s reputation, break down customer trust and create further financial implications due to loss of customers. 

Partners have great visibility into their customers’ IT structure and are best suited to provide expert insight on the right security solutions to pair with other IT services or tools. In a more granular sense, partners are the best source to connect specific providers across technology sectors – with the inside knowledge of knowing which systems will ease the integration process. They’ve come to you for a myriad of solutions -- infrastructure, cloud computing, network connectivity -- and it’s your job to meet those needs. But it’s also your job to impress upon them that all these solutions are a house of cards without a rigorous cybersecurity plan in place. 

Connect customers and clients with expertise 

If we’ve properly sparked their interest, it shouldn’t be a difficult stepping stone to offer clients and customers solutions. Doing this shows that customers are not simply an account number in a ledger but rather that you value their security, regardless of your role as a partner. Offering these services is as simple as connecting them with the right provider. However, staying up to date on training and security certifications can also create a knowledge base to share with customers and help with immediate solutions.  

Your customers depend on you to keep them apprised and knowledgeable of their business and information technology. Cybersecurity is of the utmost importance regardless of the products and services being provided. An attack or breach can and will detrimentally affect all factors of any enterprise: productivity, customer confidence, share price... the list is long. While much of this seems like common sense, we still must strive to provide customers and clients with the larger picture of the consequences of shirking their security concerns. And once we do, most are quite grateful that someone finally did. The paramount responsibility as partners is to keep them informed and connect them (hopefully fast) with available solutions.