Solid IT security practices are essential in protecting your company's and customers' data. In fact, many businesses now select vendors based on their security practices as much as their products and services.
Unfortunately, businesses that fail to utilize proper security practices miss out on potential clients. Likewise, if a vendor experiences a cybersecurity breach or attack, its clients are also at risk.
To avoid security risks, clients may run audits or request proof of a vendor's security posture. The client will take its business elsewhere if a vendor fails to produce satisfactory security evidence.
For over 25 years, WEBIT Services has helped hundreds of clients develop IT strategies, create effective IT systems, and create IT disaster recovery plans.
By reading this article, you will learn about six security practices and tests that can help you gain and retain clients.
6 security practices to attract clients
1. Follow an official security framework
Official security frameworks like NIST and CIS provide the baseline for any IT security system and practices. These time-proven security methods were developed and tested by experts. Educated clients won't work with vendors or partners who invite preventable risk by not following a framework.
A business's IT security risks drop drastically by following just Group 1 of CIS or the Protect stage of NIST. This includes using essential security tools and practices like multi-factor authentication.
As you apply the practices from each CIS group or NIST stage, your risk decreases while security increases.
Before you begin any security testing, ensure you follow a framework.
2. If you are a regulated industry, follow compliance standards
Regulated industries like healthcare and banking must follow standardized IT compliance practices. If regulated businesses fail to follow compliance standards, they could be met with heavy fines and penalties, including loss of reputation.
For example, HIPAA contains compliance standards for healthcare. It includes data management and protection rules to help maintain patients' privacy. If a hospital loses or releases patient records, it may be sued by the affected patients.
However, it's important to note that compliance does not guarantee a solid security posture. A HIPAA-compliant hospital that follows a security framework is more protected than one that does not.
3. Have regular risk assessments
Risk assessments examine existing IT assets and practices to find security holes. In addition, they look at what security procedures are in place and their effectiveness.
For example, a company may run regular phishing tests to see if employees can identify and report suspicious or dangerous emails. After a risk assessment, your IT provider or internal IT team will examine the test results.
Afterward, they will tell you if employees need training, if tools are effective, and if policies are successful.
Risk assessments should be run quarterly to ensure that a company is up-to-date and aware of risks and how to address them.
4. Perform vulnerability testing
Vulnerability testing scans your system for known vulnerabilities that pose security risks.
While similar in some ways, vulnerability testing and risk assessments are different practices. Risk assessments focus on logic, assets, and policies. On the other hand, vulnerability testing focuses on finding security holes in your system.
Clients often ask for your most recent vulnerability tests to verify that you protect your system from threats.
5. Perform external security testing
To take your security posture to the next level, you can run security tests through a third party. Some clients will require testing to verify that your security system and practices are effective both in theory and actuality.
While risk assessments and vulnerability testing are a matter of regular maintenance, external security tests look at security in action.
Penetration testing is one of the more popular security tests. In this evaluation, security experts will try to "break into" your IT system.
However, it's important to note that you should not attempt penetration testing until you have applied Group 1 of CIS or NIST. Group 1 helps build your security wall and deterrents to help prevent penetration by cybercriminals.
If you are missing Group 1 from your security practices, the penetration test will simply reveal that you're missing basic-level security practices. To get the most out of a penetration test, have Group 1 security practices and tools in place before the test. This way, deeper security issues will be revealed and resolved.
Companies may consider using a SOC and SIEM to scan for additional vulnerabilities and threats.
6. Security is not a set-it-and-forget-it practice
Risk and security are constantly evolving. When a new threat arises, a tool is created to contain it. In response, cybercriminals seek out new vulnerabilities and create new attacks. Then security experts develop new tools and methods to address new attacks, and the cycle continues.
Due to the ever-changing nature of IT risk, companies should make regular security testing and policy review part of IT maintenance. For example, risk assessments should be run at least quarterly.
Potential clients will want to see recent assessment results and may request additional testing.
For instance, a potential client won't care that you did vulnerability and penetration testing five years ago. This is because those results won't reflect active, current threats. Instead, clients will want to see recent results to know you are currently secure.
Next steps for building your security posture
IT security is increasingly important when protecting your data and building client trust.
In addition, many businesses now require vendors to prove their security posture.
To increase your security posture and attract clients, consider the following security practices:
- Follow a proven security framework like CIS or NIST.
- Follow your industry's IT compliance standards.
- Perform quarterly risk assessments.
- Run vulnerability testing to find security holes.
- Have a third party perform security tests or analysis.
- Continue to run tests and build security.
Talk to your IT provider about evaluating your security practices and policies. They can recommend tools, next steps, or third-party security testers and providers to help you reach your security goals.
If your IT provider or internal IT team is not following a security framework, it is a security red flag.
WEBIT Services has helped hundreds of clients in the greater-Chicago area create effective cybersecurity procedures.
If you are looking for a new IT provider, schedule a free 30-minute consultation to see how WEBIT can help.
If you aren't ready to make a commitment but would like to learn more about cybersecurity and IT services, we recommend the following articles:
- What is defense-in-depth security?
- CIS and NIST | How frameworks affect cybersecurity
- Cybersecurity Risk Levels: Where do you draw the line?
- Managed IT vs. Managed Security vs. Compliance: What are the differences, and where do they overlap?