The information and communications technology (ICT) industry is experiencing exponential growth, with new technologies and advancements being made every day. However, as the world continues its shift from manual transactions and analog devices to online and digital ones, threats and attackers are also quickly adapting to these changes.
Concerns over cyber-attacks – deliberate attempts on computer systems and electronic communications networks by unauthorized persons, usually with the goal of theft, disruption, damage, or other unlawful actions – have grown over the past years.
In the 2014 US CEO Survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), 69% of CEOs in the country expressed concern regarding cyber threats, which include lack of data security. The figures increased in the 2016 US CEO Survey, showing 88% of CEOs in the US (and 61% of CEOs globally) are concerned with cyber threats.
Everyone is at risk from online threats and attackers, from government networks, mega-corporations and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to individual consumers and citizens. As a result, business and ICT leaders from organizations of all sizes and in every sector are continuously looking for ways to ensure their online privacy through cybersecurity – the act or the measures used to protect computer systems and the information they contain.
Rising cybersecurity industry
Cybersecurity is seen as one of the fastest growing industries in the ICT Sector. The industry was valued at US$78 billion in 2015, and was expected to have hit US$122.45 billion in 2016. A study conducted by Markets and Markets also reports that the industry will reach up to US$202.36 billion in value by 2021, with a 10.6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) during the forecast period 2016-2021. The study also discussed growth drivers in the industry, which was mainly due to the rise in security breaches that target businesses and the need for stricter regulatory and compliance requirements.
Types of cyber-attacks and their impacts
Individuals and businesses today face a multitude of cyber threats, including viruses, malwares, and spywares that scan networks for sensitive information like social security numbers, credit card information, and passwords.
Company executives also list zero-day attacks (targets software vulnerabilities that have not yet been discovered and patched), cloud data leakage (intentional uploading of sensitive and private information to cloud-based services), and targeted attacks (systematic use of various hacking methods to breach security measures of a specific company) as major concerns.
It is also important to remember that cyber threats do not only come from outside of the organization. Companies often forget that human resource is something that all businesses have and each employee has the potential of being a threat. IBM’s 2016 Cyber Security Intelligence Index has found that 60% of cyber-attacks were insider threats, wherein 75% was deliberately done with malicious intent and 25% was due to inadvertent actions and errors.
Businesses that have been victims of cyber-attacks have lost valuable files and information, as well as financial assets that could have been stolen through the attack or lost due to interrupted operations, post-breach expenses, legal fees, insurance premiums, client loss, and devaluation of trade name.
According to the IBM-sponsored 2016 Cost of Data Breach Study conducted by Ponemon Institute, the cost of data breaches continues to rise. This rise in cost is mostly attributed to the large number of malicious attacks, accounting for 48% of all data breaches, which cost more to remediate. Although the cost of breach detection and containment continues to grow, lost business due to lost customers is still seen as the biggest financial consequence of a cybersecurity attack.
IBM’s report found that the average cost of a data breach to companies has risen to US$4 million in 2016, a 29% increase from 2013 figures. Healthcare has the highest cost per record breached at US$355, followed by Education at US$246 and Financial at US$221.
The other industries analyzed in the study include Services (US$208), Life Science (US$195), Retail (US$172), Communications (US$164), Industrial (US$156), Energy (US$148), and Technology (US$145).
Protecting your business against cyber threats
With the rise of these threats and the risks associated with them, cybersecurity continues to gain the focus of industry leaders as it turns into a core business function that companies are investing more money and effort into.
To protect and ensure the privacy of sensitive company-related data and information, some businesses have already turned to the use of various cybersecurity services and solutions that are either hosted internally or acquired from a third-party provider. The most popular cybersecurity measures used by companies include network defenses, mobile device protection, antivirus software programs, firewalls as well as data backup solutions, encryption software, and even cybersecurity insurance.
Intentional cyberattacks from malicious insider threats may be addressed by strengthening the company’s standards when it comes to user identities and passwords. Doing so will make it harder for attackers to steal personal and company credentials. Utilizing deep analytics to discover deviations in employee behavior, routine and technological interaction may also help in spotting indications of a compromised system.
Conducting cybersecurity education and awareness programs may also help minimize human errors caused by unwitting employees that range from misaddressed emails to confidential data accessed through unsecure systems to stolen devices that contain company passwords and accesses.
Aside from all the cybersecurity measures mentioned above, outsourcing non-core business functions can also be helpful in lessening mistakes from unfocused employees. Reducing your in-house employees’ load of non-core activities and outsourcing these tasks to third-party experts means your people can concentrate more on performing higher-value tasks and key business functions, minimizing the risk of network security errors.
Employing highly qualified specialists from different fields and equipped with a robust technological infrastructure, Infinit-O provides a diverse range of outsourcing services across the healthcare, finance and accounting, customer service, and data and research industries. The company helps its clients focus on growing their businesses by keeping up-to-date with the latest technologies and processes that address the various challenges faced by today’s companies. Infinit-O will help you save on costs and protect your business from the rising threat of cyber-attacks by providing you a team of qualified cybersecurity professionals that meets your needs and requirements.