Security Debt can Hinder Your Business Growth

Security Debt can Hinder Your Business Growth

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by Alex Noah — 2 months ago in Security 5 min. read
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While you are aware of the potential dangers that security can cause, do you realize the competitive advantages it offers when it is done right? Denise Schroeder is Carbide’s Vice President of Product Innovation and shares her insights on how high-growth companies can implement data security and privacy to drive business growth.

According to Industry figures, Three out of four startups fail. 70% of these failures occur when the company is just two to five years old. While startups face many obstacles on the path to survival, 20% of them fail. Because of fierce competition. This environment can be particularly harsh for SaaS-based businesses. Although the product-market fit is crucial to success, there are many startups that failed to succeed despite having superior products. Building a strong security position early in your business can help you project more business maturity and be able to compete against other companies.

Security Matters

Security can be a problem, with the negative impact on businesses and the cost of fixing it. However, it is possible to increase growth by ensuring security. Many companies are seeking to sell into large enterprises and highly regulated sectors like financial services and healthcare. It can be hard to get into these large organizations and brands because they don’t want to take risks with patient or customer data. It can be difficult to get a foothold in these big brands and organizations because they aren’t interested in taking risks with their customer or patient data. A recent survey shows that 10% of US companies are currently working to comply with more than 50 privacy laws and another 26% are working to address between six and 49. This is a requirement for buyers. They need to be confident that the organization with which they do business can manage this level of responsibility.

Here’s an example of a scenario that could have occurred in your company: The SaaS platform you use is getting lots of attention. Customers are enthusiastic about the platform’s performance and new leads are coming in to fill the pipeline. While you are moving through the sales process smoothly, you suddenly find yourself faced with a long security questionnaire. The questionnaire is full of questions about your security and compliance with GDPR. Your tech team is already working on product modifications in order to respond to such a request. Your security team asks you to fill out the questionnaire. You find that your answers are at best incomplete. It becomes obvious that your program is not meeting their expectations when you meet with the prospect’s privacy and security team. The prospect eventually backs out and chooses to go with your competitor. Because they were able to clearly communicate what they were doing to comply with security frameworks, privacy regulations, they were able quickly to swoop in to seal the deal.

Optimizing for growth and feature creation are often priorities in fast-growing companies. As with technical debt, the decisions you make today will impact your ability to meet your prospects’ security expectations quickly. If you don’t pay attention to security while you are negotiating deals, your company’s “security debt” will grow. Unintelligible, often ad-hoc privacy policies and application agreements can leave you with terms that are unclear (and sometimes conflicting!) It is filled with security or legal jargon. This makes it extremely difficult to manage, and even more difficult for everyone to follow internally. It puts all your deals at risk. Your competitors, on the other hand, take security seriously and go through the procurement process with no problems, growing their businesses at each turn.

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Three Steps to Check Security Debt

Startups must operationalize data security to avoid security debt that can impede growth. This is done by embedding privacy and security into the core functions of the company. These are the three things you need to keep in mind when making this a reality.

1. Transform Security Requirements into Everyday Processes

A security framework’s goal is to reduce risk and protect an organization’s data environment and systems. However, employees who are unable to follow the procedures or remember the policies will not be able to comply with the requirements. Privacy and security policies and procedures should be easy to understand, apply, and easily accessible for everyone. Multiple security regulations and frameworks are required for many organizations. These include the GDPR and ISO. They have similar requirements but differ in terms of minimum requirements. You’ll have overlapping policies and controls that confuse employees if you try to address each one separately. There are many other components to consider, but only a few of them will apply to you. If you are responsible for financial data, but not sensitive or patient data, then only certain requirements will apply. The process of integrating security and privacy requirements into daily operations becomes automatic and routine, allowing for seamless integration of security into company operations, which in turn allows for faster growth.



2. Designate Privacy and Security Ambassadors

Large companies often have the luxury to employ multiple departments (legal security privacy and compliance) in order to ensure that security and privacy regulations and rules are being followed. Leaner businesses may not have the same opportunities. Organizations that plan to grow should have at least one person responsible for security compliance. This individual will be responsible for looking at the technology architecture from a privacy and security perspective. This allows you to identify potential issues and understand the trade-offs being made for development speed. It also helps you avoid security debt.

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3. Reduce Risk by Mapping Your Data Assets

It is not enough to take an inventory of your critical systems or data. You must also understand how data flows through the data lifecycle. Data mapping and asset management are more than just collecting the data. It’s about identifying potential risks throughout the data lifecycle. Who has access? What is the location of the data? What data is stored? What data types are collected? What data is shared? Data flows in early-stage companies are often designed for speed and growth. Few are built with security and privacy in mind. Your organization can reduce potential risks by mapping out your system and data assets, and keeping them updated, especially when things change.



Growing Securely

Gtmhub is one example of an organization that uses security compliance to drive growth. It provides a platform that allows the largest brands to adopt, measure, and reach their goals. The platform allows companies to align their individual, departmental and corporate goals with their overall business strategy and goals. This can make the information within it highly sensitive.

Prospects need to be reassured about Gtmhub security procedures before they decide to sign a deal. The company was able to recognize this and launch a security initiative that will demonstrate and achieve both SOC 2 compliance and ISO 27001 compliance. This has simplified this important element of vendor management. Instead of conducting a thorough security audit on every customer, Gtmhub simply presents them with an already prepared attestation from an external third party to verify compliance. Gtmhub is able to showcase security controls and close deals quicker.

Security debt is a common problem. Everyone who has worked in startups knows that things do not always go as planned. However, organizations can take into consideration the long-term consequences of secured debt and create a plan to rectify them. From the beginning, look for opportunities to make your data protection and privacy processes more accessible and simpler. As your company grows, you will have a solid foundation.

Alex Noah

Alex is senior editor of The Next Tech. He studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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