More and more people are turning to technology to store their data. They use the cloud to store their passwords, health information, social security information, and more. Cybercriminals have developed ever more sophisticated ways to steal that valuable information. Cybersecurity is the practice of safeguarding your company’s, employee’s, and customer’s sensitive data.
The risk of cyber attacks rises every year. Firewalls and antivirus software is no longer enough to deter cybercriminals. Businesses need protection from cybersecurity professionals to ensure their data is secure. Our world is increasingly connected through technology. Cybercriminals are poised to take advantage of this. Cybersecurity professionals are the ones equipped to stop them.
Threats to your company’s data can come from any level of your organization, and at any time. Educating your employees on the newest forms of cyber threats is a key first-line defense against them. From phishing to ransomware and malware, cybercriminals have many ways to steal your data. Your employees must know what to look for and where to report suspicious requests.
Additionally, more and more attention is being drawn to the field of cybersecurity by lawmakers and private sector advocates alike. New laws like the GDPR in Europe and data security laws in California penalize businesses for lax security and make data breaches publicly reportable incidents.
Cybercrime is on the rise
Do you know what the most expensive and fastest-growing area of cybercrime is? Information theft. This is mostly because of the increasing popularity of using the cloud to store personal data. But personal data isn’t the only target of cybercriminals. They also aim to disrupt governmental operations. They can do this through large scale attacks on utilities like the power company, or through attacks that damage information integrity and breed distrust.
Other factors are contributing to the rise in cybercrime. The first is the distributed nature of the internet. As the internet gets bigger, more businesses want personal information from people. Many of these vendors don’t have great security setups for guarding that information, leading to more data breaches.
Cybercriminals are also able to attack targets outside of their jurisdiction, making it harder to police them. The remote nature of the crime means that it falls in a federal or national, sometimes international, jurisdiction. These agencies are already overwhelmed, leading many of these criminals to go free.
Finally, crimes like these are getting more profitable every year. The dark web is increasing in reach, just like the regular internet. As it increases, it’s easier for cybercriminals to find buyers and sellers of stolen information. This information is also very valuable and commands a high price.
The impact of cybercrime
There are three ways that cybercrime can impact your business: economic costs, reputational costs, and regulatory costs. The economic costs of cybercrime include the potential theft of intellectual property, disruptions in trading if you are a publicly-held company, and the cost of repairing any damaged systems. All of these things will cost your company money, whether it’s money lost because of stolen information or money you now need to spend to upgrade your breached systems.
Reputational costs include things like the loss of consumer trust, poor media coverage, and the loss of current and future customers to your competitors. A public data breach can be deadly for companies. Many retailers have suffered millions of dollars in losses after a high-profile breach. The losses have a long tail too. They can go on for months after a breach, even if you ensure your systems are strengthened. Media coverage can go against you as well. Reporters are more likely to cover a data breach than they are the successful resolution of a breach. This leaves your Google search results littered with negative reports.
Finally, there are the regulatory costs. GDPR and other data breach laws mean that your organization could suffer from regulatory fines or sanctions as a result of cybercrimes. Overall, it is hard to quantify the real costs of cybercrimes and data breaches. These crimes can be difficult to detect until much later. However, consumers expect nothing but the best from your cybersecurity measures.
Your employees are your first-line defense against these crimes. They need to understand what these crimes look like and how to mitigate them. Regular training is necessary to keep your employees up to date on the latest information that can help them spot and stop these crimes.
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Why cybersecurity is important
According to a recent study, the average cost of cybercrime for an organization has increased by $1.4 million over the last year to $13.0 million. The average number of data breaches rose by 11 percent to 145. Despite this, our society is more and more reliant on technology. They are also more willing to give up their data in exchange for convenience. Coupled with the increase in internet-enabled technology, there are many cybersecurity threats that did not exist even five years ago.
Governments are also paying closer attention. The EU recently enacted the GDPR, a wide-ranging law that requires companies to publicly disclose any data breach, get user consent to process information, and appoint a data protection officer. The United States is also cracking down as all 50 states have passed data breach laws. While all of these laws are different, they share some commonalities. These include informing those affected as soon as possible, informing the government as soon as possible, and some sort of fine.
In 2003, California was the first state to regulate data breach disclosures. This landmark law required persons or businesses to notify those affected "without reasonable delay" and "immediately following discovery.” Victims can sue for up to $750 and companies can be fined up to $7,500 per victim.
Consumers don’t appear to be changing their data sharing behavior any time soon. But they do expect businesses to guard their information carefully. This requires companies to have strict cybersecurity measures in place, because the alternative is too costly to bear.
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