Cybercrime, Cyber Security: The Crisis and the Opportunity

September 15, 2016

 

As if you didn’t have enough to worry about, you now can add one more big worry to your list: cybercrime. It’s real, it’s costly, and there’s plenty of it.


Just a couple of years ago, Time magazine reported that 7 percent of U.S. organizations lost $1 million or more to cybercrime. Another 19 percent incurred losses ranging from $50,000 to $1 million. Over 3,000 U.S. companies were victims of cyber security breaches. Pretty much every type of business was victimized, from small banks to defense contractors to large retailers.


Moreover, cybercrime is a growing threat that shows no sign of diminishing. The Ponemon Institute, in its 2015 Cost of Cyber Crime analysis, determined that cybercrime costs amounted to an average of $15.4 million per company per year. Companies in areas as diverse as finance, energy and utilities, defense and aerospace, communication, retail and healthcare were surveyed.

 These numbers don’t reflect the magnitude of the problem. Because companies are reluctant to admit that they’ve suffered security breaches, many cybercrime incidents go unreported. 


I know what you’re thinking. Cybercrime may be a real problem, but what does it have to do with me? I've got my anti-virus software on my computer. I'm doing fine.  


Cybercrime affects everyone, not just giant multinational corporations. It’s not a matter of time until they come after you. They’re already after you. And they may, in fact, have already found you. Welcome, Target shoppers.


With almost 2,000 stores in the United States, the Minneapolis-headquartered retailer presented hackers with a large...target. Enterprising cyber crooks took aim at Target’s customer database and scored a bullseye, leaving millions of customers as collateral damage.


Clearly, cybercrime pays. No longer must hackers tediously hack away, one computer at a time, to get hold of enough information to yield sufficient gains to pay the rent. Bruce Schneier, author of Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World, explains: "a hacker can crack into a large corporate database and come away with the data of millions of people—and still get to the gym by Noon." 


And so it goes with corporation after corporation. The Target breach was not a rare exception. No company, no industry, is impervious to a cyberattack. The Ponemon Institute’s research finds that this year there was an average of 160 successful cyberattacks on companies per week, more than three times the average in 2010 average. 


The list of companies victimized by cyberattacks includes some of the organizations most familiar to American consumers. 


Chick-Fil-A (restaurant)
As customers were stopping by for some delicious chicken sandwiches, cyber crooks helped themselves to the trimmings in the form of stolen data from 9,000 credit cards.


Anthem, Inc. (health care)
You might not have been able to keep your coverage, but hackers got to keep the personal information of between 8.8 million and 18.8 million customers of Blue Cross Blue Shield.


Uber (transportation)
Coming away with the personal information of 50,000 Uber drivers, cyber thieves should have no problem hailing a ride.


Trump Hotel Collection (hotel)
With seven Trump hotels across the U.S. and Canada having had their systems breached, it’ll take some doing to make guests feel at ease again.


The damage and adverse effects of cybercrime cannot be overstated. As IBM's chairman, CEO and President, Ginni Rometty, stated: "We believe that data is the phenomenon of our time. It is the world’s new natural resource. It is the new basis of competitive advantage, and it is transforming every profession and industry. If all of this is true–even inevitable–then cybercrime, by definition, is the greatest threat to every profession, every industry, every company in the world."


The time has come to admit the obvious: United States, we have a problem. 


Actually, it’s more like a crisis. 


In much the same way that the U.S. entrepreneurial spirit emerged to meet the challenges of the past, from WWII mobilization to putting a man on the moon, U.S. companies are gearing up to take on this cybercrime wave. 


Worldwide spending to protect against cyber attacks topped $75 billion in 2015 according to Gartner, Inc. Investor’s Business Daily projected IT security spending will surge to $101 billion in 2018 and reach $170 billion by 2020.


Paradigm’s experience in this field can help you identify and document procedures to protect your company from attacks. Give us a call today.

 

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Steve Lipman is a Pulitzer Prize-worthy writer residing in Los Angeles. He chooses to write on anything that interests him, always keeping his style lighthearted.

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