The internet is everywhere, in our PCs, phones, vacuum cleaners, streetlights; you name it. In fact, it helps keep us and many of the things in our modern world running.
Businesses, for instance, are relying on the internet now more than ever. Not only do they utilize computer-based tools to work more efficiently, but also to reach new and larger markets.
The internet, with its ability to change the world, does present a considerable threat to businesses that have come to rely on it. Cyber-attacks and data breaches are growing in prominence with each new day. According to a report by Forbes Technology Council, every 40 seconds a business falls victim of a cybersecurity attack.
With cybercriminals pulling some of the most sophisticated stunts, businesses cannot afford not to take cybersecurity seriously and must ensure they have proper data security controls in place to prevent debilitating attacks on their business.
Cybersecurity is of great importance, especially for companies that deal with sensitive data such as PHI and payment information. The following are the reasons why:
Increase in the number of cyber threats
As noted above, the number of cyber security incidents is rising every day. According to an IT Governance Report, there were more than 1.7 billion data breaches and cyber-attacks in January 2019 alone. In the past, startups and small businesses were not common targets as their larger counterparts were.
This is because cyber criminals viewed smaller companies as having smaller bank accounts and lower volumes of sensitive data that could be stolen. The narrative has completely changed now.
Today, there are more cyber-attacks targeted on small businesses, nearly as much as those launched on more substantial businesses. There are various reasons for this new interest in smaller firms.
For one, many startups don’t possess anywhere as much security as bigger businesses do. Another reason is that many startups make use of cloud technology that’s not extremely protected.
Also, hackers view small businesses as a possible entry point to breach larger businesses. This is due to the fact that many small businesses have bigger enterprises as clients.
So, some cybercriminals hack small businesses to get a hold of sensitive data of their larger clients. Due to the increased targeting of startups and small businesses, it is imperative that they take the necessary measures to strengthen their cybersecurity.
Increase in the severity of cyber attacks
It is not just the number of cyber-attacks that have increased. The seriousness of these cybersecurity attacks has increased as well. A PwC report shows that cyber-attacks have become progressively destructive, targeting a widening array of data and attack vectors.
Due to the prevalence and severity of cyber-attacks, many businesses are now more wary of being attacked by cybercriminals, just like they are worried about being attacked by terrorists.
Increase in cost of data breaches
According to a report by Juniper Research, the total cost of cybercrime is projected to exceed $2 billion in 2019. Further reports indicate that the global average cost of a data breach is $3.6 million, and it keeps rising every year. For most small businesses, it is tough to bounce back after a data breach due to the cost implications.
Most of the attacks involve malware infections, phishing, SQL injection, and criminal insiders. These cyber-attacks generally cost about $160 per user, compared to that from human error that cost $130 per user and that from system glitches that cost $130 per user.
In addition to commercial loses and the public relations issues that usually arise after a cyber-attack, disruption of business operations, and the probability of extortion, cyber-attacks also expose a business to other costly problems.
These include costs arising from regulatory action, negligence claims, the incapability to fulfill contractual obligations, and the damaging loss of trust among suppliers and customers.
Increase in regulations
Because of the reputational and financial damage that can result from a company’s unawareness of cybersecurity laws, it is vital to get the business on board with compliance.
Every business is responsible for knowing the applicable state-specific cybersecurity laws. Many of these laws are concerning information collection practices and the need to alert customers through specified methods and within strict timeframes when their data gets compromised.
While you may not know the extent of fines your business may face for non-compliance with future laws, you can be confident that punishments for non-compliance with existing regulations are severe. Besides being conversant with all the cybersecurity laws, you must take steps to determine if you meet all those requirements immediately.
Once you set a compliance plan, it is vital that you make cybersecurity an ongoing priority. Regardless of what regulations come out in the future, you will be ready to fall in line to avoid the potentially detrimental consequences of non-compliance.
Ken Lynch is an enterprise software startup veteran, who has always been fascinated about what drives workers to work and how to make work more engaging. Ken founded Reciprocity to pursue just that.
He has propelled Reciprocity's success with this mission-based goal of engaging employees with the governance, risk, and compliance goals of their company in order to create more socially minded corporate citizens. Ken earned his BS in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT.