Cybersecurity Is The Future Of Customer Acquisition
By Kazi Kabir
Kazi Monirul Kabir is a Tech Entrepreneur with global footprints in the fields of Cybertech, Fintech, Defence, and Social Innovation. There was a time when the much-coveted Apple iPhone was generously “replaced” by Samsung, simply because an Android was better suited for the bourgeois budget. Apple had established its place in the market as an industry leader and a revolutionary company altogether, but considering that you only needed your phone for a couple of basic needs,
there seemed no point to invest your whole salary in a phone. It’s been a hot minute since then. A recent Ping Identity survey conducted in 2018 on personal data breach and customer behavior indicated that “trust issues” can lead people to totally abandoning a company, product or service. This, in turn, implies that security and privacy are no longer just regular or routine aspects in the product development stage, but also crucial markers of sales and customer retention. The study also alleged that if there were ever a data breach issue, nearly 78% of consumers would not engage with a brand online, while almost 50% would not use an online service or application.
While data hackers challenging cybersecurity is nothing more than a Saturday night hobby (such as the recent Twitter hack that targeted prominent world personalities in a purported Bitcoin scandal), customers are becoming increasingly aware of their privacy. Consider the 2018 attack on Facebook. Hackers took advantage of a security system flaw to compromise accounts of a whopping 50 million people. That attack cost Facebook a 3% drop in share value that year.
Another example is Sony’s PlayStation, and how the services suffered a major data breach attack in 2011. Again, that cost the company $1.25 billion in business, and approximately 10 million credit card numbers compromised apart from other user data as well. This time the share value for the company registered a 6% loss. If you’re among those who think that it’s the nature of centralized internet that has made it prone to cybersecurity attacks, well my friend, you’re in for a treat. Even decentralized platforms, such as the Fourth Industrial Revolution harbinger blockchain, are not foolproof.
Of course, it has numerous advantages in terms of data security and anonymity over a public network (through distributed ledgers), but this allegedly sophisticated technology has registered comparable losses, and in some cases, losses greater than the old-school internet. But the centralized versus decentralized debate can be addressed another time.
But Where Does This Leave Us?
American computer and privacy pioneer Willis Ware once said: “The only computer that’s completely secure is a computer that no one can use.” According to Ware in a paper that he published in 1967, as long as computers are isolated, there are no security problems. However, once multiple people with a certain skill set (such as hackers), start accessing it from unsafe locations, all sorts of secret data can be compromised. The terms may have become more refined with use (like cybersecurity today), but the issue still remains largely unaddressed. While C-suite executives have been sweating the potential damages of information security since forever, there has been a rather slow move toward adopting cybersecurity in the core company principles manual. This is despite behavioral economics’ established claims that investment in cybersecurity is directly proportional to an increase in customer base and loyalty.
A PwC’s 2018 Global State of Information Security Survey report found that only 25% of consumers believed that their data was handled responsibly. Since the populace has no choice but to make use of such platforms, we’re all rather stuck with the known devil. This discussion also brings me to illustrate the argument that initiated in the beginning — why do people, now, prefer Apple products?
A Possible Answer
Tim Cook has been fighting for personal data protection and its access since 2016, beginning with the U.S. government (over encryption) while simultaneously indulging in PR campaigns to make people aware. In 2019, the Apple CEO wrote an op-ed in Time magazine that could be wryly called a “declamation” for the rights of consumer data protection. It began with: “In 2019, it’s time to stand up for the right to privacy — yours, mine, all of ours.” For someone championing the cause of personal data protection, cybersecurity is not just a mandatory investment, but an assurance that keeps his business alive. Some may argue that Cook is not a philanthropist and that he has been doing all this to sustain Apple’s image of being a trustworthy brand (a marketing gimmick), but even if that’s the case, the guy has got his heart in the right place (at the right time).
Besides, the figures have always been in favor of investing in cybersecurity when it comes to customer retention and acquisition. The real question is, how many companies have seriously paid any heed to it? Back in 2017, a PwC report highlighted consumer concerns and stated that over 88% of the consumers were ready to share personal information if they believed that the company was trustworthy; elaborating on the same point, 87% would go somewhere else if there were enough reasons to not trust an organization. Unless governments start intervening, like the Australian government in 2018 with its Notifiable Data Breaches scheme that had companies (under the Australian Privacy Act 1988) notify their customers of the risks involved by a data breach, there will likely be no digital transformation.
Using data in innovative ways does branch out to building security and privacy risk management into a company’s cybersecurity portfolio — a stream that needs attention and focus if a business wishes to expand its clientele. If the government bodies can recognize the importance of investing in cybersecurity and use it righteously, why can’t business enterprises that pride themselves in innovation?