If you follow IT security news, you know that during the last six months, we've seen a rash of data breaches, which has led many people to wonder: Are these isolated incidents or part of a growing threat to personal data? To answer this question, let's take a look at some of the key data breach statistics.
The Numbers Don't Lie: 6 Surprising Data Breach Trends
- Incidents are becoming more common. According to research from IBM, there was a 38% increase in cyber attacks from 2011 to 2012. To put that another way, there were over 2 million attacks on businesses each week. If there were a 38% increase in fraud, burglary, or any other crime, businesses would be panicking, but because cyber crime is less visual, many business owners have a false sense of security and may not even be aware of the growing threat.
- Data breaches are expensive. IBM estimates that the average cost of a data breach is $300,000. Between paying for lawsuits and damages to each individual whose personal data was compromised, your business could wind up bankrupt.
- Breaches damage your brand. After a data breach, businesses have more problems than lawsuits costs and security headaches. Of the companies IBM surveyed, 75% admitted that IT risks impact their brand. When a business is hacked, its reputation suffers and sales drop as customers take their business elsewhere.
- Attacks are sophisticated. According to a study done by Verizon Wireless, in 19% of attacks, hackers used multiple tactics to break into a company's secure personal data. The sophistication and persistence of these attacks mean IT consultants and small businesses need to have the latest security software.
- Businesses have inadequate security. According to Verizon’s analysis, many businesses base their tech decisions on budgets from previous years. Unfortunately, as attacks become more common and more sophisticated, those that rely on outdated threat assessments will have the resources to adequately protect themselves.
- The cyber security industry is growing. If there's a silver lining to the explosion of data breaches, it's this: a growing market for cyber security and data protection. With more attacks, there's more work for IT consultants.
After looking at the data, the conclusion is obvious: any way you measure it, cyber attacks are becoming more common, sophisticated, and expensive.
What Data Breaches Mean for IT Consultants
Despite the growing threat, many businesses aren't taking steps to protect themselves. As an IT professional, you don't have the luxury of burying your head in the sand when it comes to data breaches. When client networks are attacked, you can be sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
You'll need to take proactive steps to prevent data loss, secure data systems, and reduce the risk of lawsuits. IT consultants should…
- Stay current. How do you protect data? In addition to having top-of-the-line software, you'll need to be aware of trends in cyber security (like the increasing amount of ransomware attacks) and ensure that your software is up to date (this week, Apple recently updated its software to patch more than 100 vulnerabilities). If you installed software for a client a year ago and that software now has a security flaw, you can still be sued.
- Keep in touch with clients. Remember that saying, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link? It's definitely true when it comes to IT. You're an IT expert, but your clients might not be. They need to know how to protect data as well. Emailing clients about new threats or reminding them to update their software as patches are released can help prevent data breaches (and lawsuits seeking damages for those breaches).
- Get covered. With the average cost of a data breach at $300,000, you simply can't afford to get tangled in a huge, expensive lawsuit. Third-party Cyber Liability Insurance can pay for lawsuits clients may file against you when they’re attacked.
For more ways to prevent data breaches, check out our article "How to Protect Data: Data Breach Solutions."