The changing face of cyber

“Globally, cyber crime costs businesses somewhere in the region of $300 – $600 billion ”

In 2014 alone, an estimated 110 million American citizens had their personal information exposed via some form of cyber breach. Globally, cyber crime costs businesses somewhere in the region of $300 – $600 billion, and that is just an estimate.

The cyber landscape has grown to huge proportions in the past ten years alone, and it shows no sign of slowing up yet. Since the first conviction for computer crime all the way back in 1981, the cyber landscape has evolved dramatically, offering plenty of temptation for governments, criminals and lone hackers wishing to disrupt organisations for their own means.

Cyber crime has become a chameleon of sorts, evolving and adapting to ensure that no organisation operating online is safe. Whether it is governments using cyber espionage tactics to infiltrate enemy states, or activists taking down websites for political purposes, there have never been more strings to the cyber crime bow.

So what does the landscape look like now? According to a study by risk management firm NetDiligence, we can break this down into four categories: Cause of loss; type of organisation targeted; type of data lost and size of organisation.

The cause of loss unsurprisingly is dominated by hackers, making up 32% of breaches in 2014. This was followed by malware/virus’, rogue employees, and then staff errors and system glitches amounting for the majority of the rest.

The type of organisation most frequently breached highlights how sensitive information has become one of the most valuable ‘currencies’ for cyber criminals, with healthcare and financial services sitting at the top of the pile in terms of industries breached most often. With healthcare data now hugely valuable on the black market, even more so than credit card details, this is one sector which is currently under the cyber crime microscope.

The type of data stolen reflects the industries targeted; Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and Personal Health Information (PHI) make up the majority of data stolen, with credit/debit card details not far behind.

Perhaps surprisingly for some, it is the small and medium sized businesses that face the most amount of attacks. Whilst they might not hold as much valuable data as larger organisations, smaller budgets usually mean less security. For those small and medium-sized businesses that suffer a cyber breach, the costs can often heavily impact the bottom line, in some cases putting them out of business altogether.

The post-breach cost is one aspect of cyber crime that has certainly changed over the past decade, as different industries and governments implement regulations to ensure better working practice and minimise the impact of cyber crime. The healthcare and financial services industries have been leading the charge, and there are more to come in the form of the EU directive in 2016 for example.

Any business worth its salt should be considering some form of security against cyber breaches. The alarming fact about cyber statistics is that they are widely perceived to be vastly under-estimated, as many businesses do not report breaches if they do not have to. Whether your business employs pre-breach or post-breach tactics, there are now many faces of cyber that need to be addressed head on.

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