The Rise in Cyber Crime

We live in a fast-paced, global economy that relies more and more on data and information carried through cyberspace. With the speed at which we are seeing technology evolve the world, as a result, has become increasingly networked, from personal banking to government infrastructure. Protecting those networks and infrastructure is no longer optional, the risk of personal data getting into the wrong hands is no longer a question of ‘if’ but more ‘when’.

According to the Global Risks 2015 report, published this January by the World Economic Forum (WEF), “90% of companies worldwide recognise they are insufficiently prepared to protect themselves against [cyber-attacks].” 

With the rise in cybercrime, cyber security is now firmly at the top of the international agenda. Recent high-profile breaches have raised fear levels that hack attacks and other security failures could endanger the global economy.

The past twelve months have seen some of the biggest hacks in history some of which the implications have been catastrophic to those involved. This includes:

  • Yahoo: Over half a billion usernames and passwords were affected in what is being called the largest data breach of all time.
  • BitFinex: More than $60m worth of bitcoin was stolen from one of the world's largest digital currency exchanges, making it the largest loss of bitcoins by an exchange since Japan’s infamous Mt Gox in 2014.
  • ADP: US Payroll company, ADP, suffered a breach in May that disclosed the payroll, tax and benefits information from nearly 640,000 companies, including the US National Bank.
  • Ukrainian Power Grid: Regional energy distribution companies in Ukraine suffered a coordinated cyber-attack, leaving approximately 225,000 customers without power across various regions during the height of winter.

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What is cyber security?

Cyber security is the protection of systems, networks and data in cyberspace from attack, damage or unauthorised access.

Cyber security is an important concern for every organisation around the world. Cyber-attacks are becoming a daily occurrence demonstrating the risk that can come from having your firewalls breached. Threats are now invisible and are harder to detect, and your best strategy is to try to make your organisation invincible. 

Small and medium-sized businesses face critical challenges due to limited resources and information, as well as competing priorities. The speed at which technology is evolving makes it difficult to stay current with security, and falling behind leaves your organisation open to weaknesses in your infrastructure that hackers are just waiting to exploit.

Why invest in cyber security?

With the increase in the amount of high profile cyberattacks it is clear that no organisation is as secure as you might be led to believe; and as a result the ramifications of the attack can have lasting effects on your organisation and your customers.

Getting your security strategy right is expensive, however by taking the risk of leaving your organisation open to attacks could mean the difference between surviving to see another year of business, or not. In a single attack, years of marketing can be undone, hitting acquisition, retention and referral rates hard. A successful security strategy can directly impact your organisations bottom line, increasing confidence has a direct influence on revenue and also your competitive advantage.

Getting it wrong however is equally, if not more, expensive.

According to Information Security Breaches Survey 2015, the average cost of a breach ranges between £75,000 and £311,000 for a small to medium sized business and £1.45 to  £3.14 million for large organisations. Alongside this, the Information Commissioners’ Office has in place a maximum fine of £500,000 that can be levied in the instance of a data breach.

Take a look at these three staggering facts from the past months:

  • Estimated cost of global cyber-crime will reach $19 trillion by 2019
  • Cyberattacks could cost up to $90 trillion by 2030 if cybersecurity fails to advance at a rapid pace
  • The UK public lost £286 million to cyber-crime in the last 12 months

Not only is there huge financial ramifications to your organisation, but there can be huge implications for your customers. Your customers trust your organisation to look after their data, whether that is your personal information, emails, passwords and even their personal finances, allowing cyber criminals to create digital identities and do irreparable harm to the victims in the process. Customer’ trust your organisation to look after their confidential data and not let it get in the hands of people who want to do them wrong. Without that trust, there is no business.

As the amount of data we generate and share through online networks continues to grow, as with more devices, and ‘the internet of things’, connect, businesses are becoming increasingly dependent on cyberspace, and with that dependency the risk of a cyber-attack is at an all-time high. All it takes is one tiny slip to leave your organisation open for your systems to be penetrated. Network and infrastructure security must become a priority within your organisation.

Cybercrime is now a growth industry. Investing in cyber security is now a necessity.

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