Why is cyber security important?

Cyber criminals had a field day in 2019, racking up massive volumes of stolen data, including personal information, sensitive business details, financial records and more. A single data breach reportedly affected more than 10 million people alone, according to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

A single cyber security incident can have an enormous impact, even if the number of compromised records don't reach into the millions. It may take years for businesses to completely overcome the lingering effects of a relatively small data breach and get back to normal operations.

Given the stakes at hand, it's more important than ever for organisations of all sizes to make cyber security a priority.

Stolen data has an immediate impact

Many cyber criminals are on the hunt for lucrative data that they can sell on the black market. That can include credit card numbers, financial account numbers, personal information and business email addresses, among other records. Information gained from one data breach could be sold to another hacker, who could turn around and use that info to launch another cyber attack against the same organisation. For instance, email addresses, internal correspondences and contact information could help cyber criminals refine their phishing emails to be more effective and fool even more unsuspecting employees.

Proprietary information is another major target for hackers. They may sell sensitive business records on the black market, publish internal communications on public forums or hold that information for ransom.

Threat remediation can be an extremely expensive process, requiring expert assistance and significant security upgrades to prevent similar data breaches from occurring in the future.

Many hackers look for a quick buck by stealing credit card numbers.Many hackers look for easy money by stealing credit card numbers.

Regulatory compliance complicates matters

Depending on the nature of the victimised business and the compromised data, there could be a number of security and privacy issues that need to be addressed. Consumer-facing businesses that sell to customers in European markets, for example, need to abide by the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation. GDPR is among the most comprehensive data privacy and security regulations in effect today, stipulating how companies respond to data breaches and inform affected customers, among other guidelines. Even Australian companies must comply with GDPR if they store or process data belonging to EU consumers.

Other industries have very rigid data privacy and management regulations – health care and financial services are two notable examples. Data breaches present additional headaches in these fields because a review of the incident could reveal that the victim violated industry regulations with their lax cyber security strategy. An insufficient incident response plan that fails to react to a breach notification in a reasonable time frame could result in fines and other penalties.

It's important that organisations thoroughly review existing regulatory obligations and update data security practices to abide by them in full. Neglecting compliance requirements will further increase the total cost of a data breach.

Data breaches erode customer trust and brand reputation

Would you do business with a company that was just hit by a high-profile data breach impacting thousands or millions of customers? Most of us would think twice before buying from a business that failed to protect its customers' information.

Even when organisations do their due diligence with cyber security, a data breach can have a lasting negative effect on their brand reputation. Customers may associate their company with the security incident for years to come, making it difficult to restore their brand image.

Of course, if the business has not followed cyber security best practices, then it will face an even steeper hill to climb to restore its reputation. Companies that have been found to be negligent in their handling of data security may never fully recover.

A business is only as good as its reputation. Is it worth putting yours at risk just to delay cyber security upgrades?

Even loyal customers may lose faith in a brand after a major data breach.Even loyal customers may lose faith in a brand after a major data breach.

Prevent costly data breaches by improving your security posture

Businesses need to do everything in their power to avoid falling victim to a cyber attack. The costs of a data breach are simply too high to ignore. Now is the time to make the necessary adjustments and bring your organisation's security posture in line with the latest cyber security best practices. Consider that the Australian Cyber Security Centre has reported a significant uptick in malicious cyber attacks, data breaches and scams in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cyber criminals are pouncing on the current crisis to take advantage of a worried and anxious population.

Protect your business, your employees and your customers by upgrading every facet of your cyber security footprint. Not sure where to get started? A vulnerability assessment can identify the biggest holes in your security posture and show you how to fix them.

Comprehensive computer security services, including email threat analysis, mobile security and penetration testing, help your business address the latest cyber threats and prevent expensive data breaches. Contact BizTech today to find out more.