What You Need To Know
In today’s digital age, we work, play and shop online. For many, an online identity is every bit as important as a ‘real world’ one. With this in mind, cybersecurity is an issue that every single computer user should take seriously because of the potential for information to be misused or disrupted. There have been countless cases of identity theft online, which means failure to learn more about cybersecurity could have a significant negative impact on your life and your business.
The Cost of Security Breaches
The 2018 Cost of A Data Breach Study1, sponsored by IBM Security and conducted by Ponemon Institute, an independent researcher on consumer trust, privacy, data protection and emerging data security technologies, concludes that the average cost of a data breach globally is $3.86 million,2 a 6.4 percent increase from the 2017 report. For the past 13 years, the Ponemon Institute has examined the cost associated with data breaches of less than 100,000 records, finding that the costs have steadily risen over the course of the study. This year for the first time, the study also calculated the costs associated with “mega breaches” ranging from 1 million to 50 million records lost, projecting that these breaches cost companies between $40 million and $350 million respectively.
According to the study, in the past five years the amount of mega breaches (breaches of more than 1 million records) has nearly doubled – from a total of nine mega breaches in 2013, to 16 mega breaches in 2017.3 Not surprisingly, the average cost of a data breach showed a nearly 10 percent net increase over the past five years of the study, representing a $360-thousand dollar increase from 2014 when the cost of a breach was $3.50 million. Unfortunately, data breaches are becoming more commonplace, as cyber thieves are now effectively comprised of criminal organizations and hostile foreign governments, with vast resources. In many cases, these resources exceed those of the entities trying to stop them.
As you will surely ascertain from reading the above information, hackers are using increasingly advanced methods to perform their data breaches, and it is up to information technology (IT) experts to stay one step ahead. However, a large number of cyber attacks are minor,and are often made possible due to the carelessness of victims. Here are some quick tips that will hopefully prevent you from becoming another statistic.
Respect the Basics
Be sure to download software updates, because viruses thrive on outdated software. Delete any suspicious emails you receive, as these ‘phishing scams’ contain malicious links that damage your computer. Always use a reputable antivirus provider, use strong passwords on sensitive data, and make sure your staff is well trained in the field of cybersecurity. All it takes is one mistake and your company’s system can be compromised.
Once you get the basics right, the next step is to analyze the risks to your business, and determine the level of damage a cyber attack can cause. Find out what is directly at risk, which may be money, information, company reputation, product designs, or customer data. Consider the threats to this information, which may be employees, hackers, or rivals.
Next, think of the form the threat may take; this could be theft/access of computers, remote attacks on networks/systems, or information gained from an employee. Finally, determine the impact of an attack. This may include; loss of reputation and customer confidence, cost of fines, and financial losses because of downtime and repair bills.
It is important for you to not only identify the threats to your business, but also to manage the risks.
- Develop a Plan: Cybersecurity must become the most important aspect of your risk management policy. This means a plan must be created to address every part of your business in relation to cybersecurity.
- Act: Ensure the appropriate security controls are in place, including network security and user privileges, along with third party relationships.
- Review: Never rest on your laurels, as hackers are always creating new ways to breach systems. As a result, you must constantly review your cybersecurity, and update it whenever necessary.
You simply cannot afford to allow cyber criminals to run riot on your business. If it is possible for company records to be accessed electronically, you need to take steps to protect this information. Not only will you lose a fortune if you are the victim of a successful attack, but your reputation may be irrevocably damaged as well.