Why Security Should Be Your Next Social Good Investment
COMMENTARY

February 26, 2020 by Kaylin Trychon

In his annual letter on corporate governance, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink doubled down on the concept that companies cannot achieve long-term profits without embracing purpose and focusing on sustainability. In the letter, Fink states that brands must have a better understanding of how they are managing sustainability-related issues such as climate change, workforce diversity, supply chains and data protection. 

According to research, the areas consumers expect brands to prioritize include the protection of society and individual well-being. To address these priorities in today’s data-driven world, companies in tune with their audiences must add cybersecurity to their list of corporate social responsibility initiatives. 

In 2020, being a steward of good cybersecurity practices is supposed to be a cornerstone of any company’s business model, but it should also be a part of their social good program. Every day, our way of life is threatened by malicious hackers looking to cause disruption, destruction, or make a quick buck selling our personal data on the dark web. Protecting society by first and foremost protecting consumers’ data not only promotes a culture of trust and accountability, it can improve society in huge ways. 

But investments to do so are expensive. A lack of adequate resources for security is a global problem corporations can and should address through CSR. For example, state and local governments don’t have the resources to adequately secure our election infrastructure. Non-profits and small family-owned businesses are often unable to invest in a robust security infrastructure. In fact, 60 percent of small and mid-sized businesses that are hacked go out of business within six months. 

The most successful CSR initiatives promote social good and draw upon a company’s purpose. For example, FireEye launched its outreach program providing security expertise and capabilities to those most in need of it. Brands that practice and promote good security should use those resources to help those that cannot. Not only will it help protect our digital way of life, but it will also act as a competitive advantage.

To kick start your campaign, it’s important to identify and understand how data and security impact your organization, employees, customers and stakeholders. This knowledge will help you identify the right partnerships and investments to make. 

One path brands can explore to elevate security for social good is investing in organizations that are already working to provide security to under-served communities or elevate the importance of practicing good security. The National Cyber Security Alliance is one such organization. They are devoted to educating and empowering our global digital society to use the internet safely and securely.

Finally, organizations that collect, maintain or use consumer data also have an inherent responsibility to safeguard that data. While most organizations do not exist to be secure, they must begin to prioritize security along with convenience, efficiency, and capability in order to promote the well-being of their customer base if they want to attract and keep them. Without incorporating this tenet into their purpose – and making the required investment to walk the walk – companies will ultimately be more likely to experience an increase in the abuse and loss of consumer data. This data loss can impact everything from personal safety to public service disruptions. 

By placing an emphasis on security as a social imperative, brands can play a significant role in stopping the spread of disinformation, securing the data that is most important to our way of life and making our digital ecosystem a safer place.  It may veer from the traditional areas of corporate social good programs, but in the digital age, cybersecurity and the protection of consumers is critical to a healthy, safe society. 

Kaylin Trychon is vice president at Rokk Solutions, a full-service, bipartisan public affairs firm. Prior to her role at Rokk Solutions, Kaylin worked at Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services where she helped build the company’s cybersecurity brand. 

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