If any business is not online, it’s in trouble. If your customers are not able to buy online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, they are already buying from your competitors.

This was the word from Steve Jump, founder & director of Custodiet Advisory Services, discussing the importance of having a strong online presence, which allows businesses to advertise their products and services, attract customers and build brand credibility.

Jump was speaking at the ITWeb Security Summit 2020 this week. About 700 delegates are attending the 15th annual information and cyber security conference, which is taking place virtually amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jump said those businesses who have successfully navigated four and a half months of lockdown, and were able to go virtual are thriving, while those that have not yet managed to move from a physical to virtual space are suffering.

He emphasised the important role of security, as more businesses look to build their online presence in light of the pandemic.

“The old way of thinking was to build your IT to support your business needs. The same applied to Web sites and databases to collect and mine your customers’ data. In this old world, security was often an afterthought, and probably included adding a password.

“But in today’s business environment, if you do plan on staying in business long enough to see what tomorrow actually looks like, you will have considered how the role of information security has made your business more agile, helped you prevent cyber-related outages and kept fraudsters away from both your own data, and from your customers’ data, ” he said.

Customers have already moved on to expect business to be in a totally digital world – the reality now is that security is no longer an add-on; it has become the very foundation for safe business, added Jump.

“There is a line of truth that customers are beginning to realise – the better, the smoother and more reliable the brand’s interface is, the more attracted customers will be. Once our customers use an electronic interface, we have the ability to deliver a personal experience and want to keep them our customers while distracting them from the opportunities our competitors are providing them.”

Security influences all aspects of technology

Meeting customer expectations through technology should be the main focus, as it will determine a few factors such as: Will customers come back? How should the business adequately provide for customers? Is the business listening to customers?

“Underpinning the foundation for going digital is trust. In order for customers to be serviced, they need to trust your business and in turn your business should earn this trust by ensuring that the business data remains business data and that customer data remains customer data and that it's protected.

The way businesses invest in their security influences every other aspect of technology use across its systems. Not only is it cheaper to run technology this way but it’s also “infinitely more reliable and consistently more available” than insecure infrastructure, he continued.

“The world is moving faster for our customers, but its moving even faster for our developers – secure by design is no longer a nice-to-have but it’s only a starting point. If a business is only using usernames and passwords, this is a security breach that nobody has noticed yet. A password is an incompetent protection of information – if this is all a business has, it’s not fit to have paying customers,” concluded Jump.