Cyber security is big news. Reports of large companies that have fallen victim to hacking attacks are constantly emerging, as the criminals behind the attacks become smarter and more organized. With the increasing connectivity of the global economy and the amount of valuable data stored digitally skyrocketing, the rewards on offer for cyber criminals are now huge. It has attracted the attention of everyone from organized crime to nation states looking to conduct cyber-espionage. In fact, every day we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data! By 2020, the amount of data stored will be 50x larger than today.
Cyber attacks are bigger, more sophisticated and much more destructive than in the past. The largest hacks now attract worldwide media coverage and can leave not just thousands, but millions of customers exposed. For instance, consider the case of health insurance provider Anthem, where 78.8m personal records were compromised.
It is clear that organizations across all sectors can be affected. In the retail space, US department store Target is reportedly facing costs of $162m after a 2013 breach that exposed around 70 million records, even after insurance payouts in 2013/14. Big brands such as JPMorgan Chase, Sony and AOL have all had similar highly-publicized incidents.
The range of costs related to this can be huge, from lost business and regulatory fines to less tangible expenses related to damaged reputation and productivity. UK supermarket chain Morrisons is reportedly being sued by its own employees following a breach in 2014.
Cyber security is no longer an issue to be relegated to the IT department. Instead, everyone, up to and including the CEO now needs to take ownership and accountability over the security of important information. Therefore, everyone in the business, from the board down, must be proactive if they are to avoid serious consequences.
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