The Importance of Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity's importance is on the rise. Fundamentally, our society is more technologically reliant than ever before and there is no sign that this trend will slow. Personal data that could result in identity theft is now posted to the public on our social media accounts. Sensitive information like social security numbers, credit card information and bank account details are now stored in cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive.
The fact of the matter is whether you are an individual, small business, or large multinational, you rely on computer systems every day. Pair this with the rise in cloud services, poor cloud service security, smartphones, and the Internet of Things (IoT) and we have a myriad of cybersecurity threats that didn't exist a few decades ago. We need to understand the difference between cybersecurity and information security, even though the skill sets are becoming more similar.
Governments around the world are bringing more attention to cybercrimes. GDPR is a great example. It has increased the reputational damage of data breaches by forcing all organizations that operate in the EU to:
Communicate data breaches
Appoint a data protection officer
Require user consent to process information
Anonymize data for privacy
The trend towards public disclosure is not limited to Europe. While there are no national laws overseeing data breach disclosure in the United States, there are data breach laws in all 50 states. Commonalities include:
The requirement to notify those affected as soon as possible
Let the government know as soon as possible
Pay some sort of fine
California was the first state to regulate data breach disclosures in 2003, requiring 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.
This has driven standards boards like the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to release frameworks to help organizations understand their security risks, improve cybersecurity measures, and prevent cyber attacks.
Why is cybercrime increasing?
Information theft is the most expensive and fastest-growing segment of cybercrime. Largely driven by the increasing exposure of identity information to the web via cloud services. But it is not the only target. Industrial controls that manage power grids and other infrastructure can be disrupted or destroyed. And identity theft isn't the only goal, cyber-attacks may aim to compromise data integrity (destroy or change data) to breed distrust in an organization or government.
Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated, changing what they target, how they affect organizations, and their methods of attack for different security systems.
Social engineering remains the easiest form of cyberattack with ransomware, phishing, and spyware being the easiest form of entry. Third-party and fourth-party vendors who process your data and have poor cybersecurity practices are another common attack vector, making vendor risk management and third-party risk management all the more important.
According to the Ninth Annual Cost of Cybercrime Study from Accenture and the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of cybercrime for an organization has increased by $1.4 million over the last year to $13.0 million and the average number of data breaches rose by 11 percent to 145. Information risk management has never been more important.
Data breaches can involve financial information like credit card numbers or bank account details, protected health information (PHI), personally identifiable information (PII), trade secrets, intellectual property, and other targets of industrial espionage. Other terms for data breaches include unintentional information disclosure, data leak, cloud leak, information leakage, or a data spill.
Other factors driving the growth in cybercrime include:
The distributed nature of the Internet
The ability for cybercriminals to attack targets outside their jurisdiction making policing extremely difficult
Increasing profitability and ease of commerce on the dark web
The proliferation of mobile devices and the Internet of Things.
What is the impact of cybercrime?
A lack of focus on cybersecurity can damage your business in a range of ways including:
Economic costs: Theft of intellectual property, corporate information, disruption in trading, and the cost of repairing damaged systems
Reputational costs: Loss of consumer trust, loss of current and future customers to competitors, and poor media coverage
Regulatory costs: GDPR and other data breach laws mean that your organization could suffer from regulatory fines or sanctions as a result of cybercrimes
All businesses, regardless of the size, must ensure all staff understands cybersecurity threats and how to mitigate them. This should include regular training and a framework to work with to that aims to reduce the risk of data leaks or data breaches.
Given the nature of cybercrime and how difficult it can be to detect, it is difficult to understand the direct and indirect costs of many security breaches. This doesn't mean the reputational damage of even a small data breach or other security event is not large. If anything, consumers expect increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity measures as time goes on.