What Is The True Cost Of A Security Breach?

February 27, 2014 11:26 pm0 commentsViews: 34

cyber_1By : Brittany Thorley

Most of our publications are filled with breaking news about the latest corporations taken down by hackers. Businesses from all industries are becoming easy targets by those who take advantage of online security weaknesses in order to access important data such as credit and debit card details. For those looking to enhance their protection against online threats, let us find out what is the true cost of a security breach and what are the steps to minimize and manage risks? 

Is my business at risk?

Unfortunately, cyber attacks are not fixated on global corporations with huge profit margins and wide access to thousands (or even millions) of customers and their data. These days, even start-up companies and non-profit organizations can be target victims even with the pre-conception that that they have nothing much to protect so they have less to lose.

According to a recent survey, around 87% of small businesses experienced hacker attacks in 2012 alone.  So whatever industry your business resides in and whatever the strength of your profit margins, it is essential that you have an effective security strategy in place to protect your customers and company assets.

What have I got to lose?

Even for the most successful companies, the devastating consequences of a cyber intrusion can quickly lead to financial loss, reputation damage and business closure. The impact of the recent data breach on Target Corporation (Minneapolis), affected between 70 million to 110 million customers.  A total of around 40 million credit card online data and 70 million online data files were massively intruded resulting to a devastating blow to the second largest retailer in the U.S. While the cyber crime’s effect on the company’s reputation has been widely reported, Target has managed their financial performance despite meaningful decline in their sales revenue.

According to the internet security giant Kaspersky, a serious cyber intrusion may cost a large company over $649,000; while small to medium enterprises can expect losses of $50,000 or more. Customer loyalty, however, is even harder to recover following a data breach.  Thus, it is recommended that companies with compromised websites or services take steps to minimize reputation damage.

What can I do to protect my business website before it is compromised?

cyber_2There are a number of precautions you can take to protect your website.  Each of the following steps can be used to secure your site effectively

  • Password protect: According to the Global Security Report, inadequate passwords are still the weakest link for websites and enhancing your password policy could just be the key to safeguarding your business interests. Ensure both user and staff passwords are at least 8 characters long and use a mixture of lower and upper case letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Store the bare minimum: While it may be necessary to store enough data for refunds and recurring payments, make sure you keep the storage of data minimal to reduce damage should hackers strike.
  • Pen test regularly: Penetration testing essentially simulates a hacker attack on your infrastructure to identify points of weakness within your system. These gaps are then closed to prevent hackers from exploiting them.
  • Get clued on encryption: When handling sensitive data like customer names, addresses, credit card details and CVV2 codes, encryption can be used to make data illegible during data transfer from customer to retail. Encryption prevents these data from falling into the wrong hands!


This post was written by Brittany Thorley. Brittany regularly blogs across the web to help businesses of all sizes protect their assets from viral attacks via penetration testing and other web security tactics.


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