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How security affects your brand trust

Below are three ways to prevent a security failure from becoming a massive PR catastrophe.

I. Prevention - Foster a pervasive culture of organizational commitment to the right technologies and security policies to keep a security breach from occurring.

II. Crisis Containment -- In case of a security breach, communicate openly and proactively with customer, business partners, shareholders and the press, to cushion and mitigate the blow to the brand.

III. Restitution -- Have a plan ready to help the victims of the breach (consumers, or in the case of B2B, partners or other companies) - financial, or via services such as a free credit check, for example.

-- Marketing executives must understand that the risks associated with security are as much a marketing problem as a technology problem. As such, Secure the Trust suggests a variety of security marketing and messaging techniques, including:

-- Reassure the public and business customers that security is a core company value by creating special programs and communicating them via a Web mini-site and other marcom strategies.

-- Demonstrate the CEO's involvement in security policies and issues, proving the organization is effectively focused on security.

-- Launch a consumer advocacy program to help customers understand security risks, such as phishing, e-mail fraud and phone fraud.

-- Develop "trust metrics," a measure of how a person or organization is trusted by others (i.e. eBay's customer feedback ratings system).

-- Consistency in security and privacy is needed across the enterprise. Marketers must take a highly proactive role in ensuring that security policies and messaging are fully aligned in the organization -- from the C-suite, across business lines, through the marketing organization, and down to the rank and file.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.