The modern digital era has made cybersecurity a necessity for businesses of all sizes. Every company dealing with consumer data, whether large or small, now needs specialists to ensure the safety of this data. Why?
Cybercriminals are devising new and advanced tactics to breach security systems, and businesses must find ways to counter these attacks. Simply put, cybersecurity specialists prepare and equip companies with data security and protection measures to protect their integrity. This makes them the front-line defenders that can protect a company’s digital assets against cyber threats. How? These professionals are armed with up-to-date computer knowledge, skills and expertise to help protect computers, software programs and the people using them.
Reputable universities such as St. Bonaventure University train students on how to become a cybersecurity specialist, from the necessary programs they should take to certify themselves, to the job opportunities available to them after finishing their two-year master’s program. If you would like to be an expert in this field, read on – this article will explain the importance of cybersecurity specialists, why businesses should invest in them, and how they can be a significant asset in the fight against cybercrime.
The cost of cybersecurity breaches for businesses
Cyber-attacks on businesses can create problems and impose severe costs on them. The various types of costs are outlined below.
Monetary losses: direct and indirect costs
Direct monetary losses are the physical costs of a cybersecurity breach. It’s a company’s financial loss from a fraud or theft incident. Direct monetary losses include the money that the company loses, the cost of investigating the breach, and how much it takes to restore the systems and data to reduce downtime.
For example, in 2016, two cybercriminals hacked Uber’s systems and gained unauthorized access to the names, email addresses and phone numbers of about 57 million users. Uber paid the hackers about $100,000 instead of reporting the stolen information. As a result, in 2018, Uber paid $148m to settle claims for failing to disclose the data breach. This doesn’t include the amount that Uber must have paid to enhance its security systems after the breach.
Indirect costs, on the other hand, are the less obvious but more impactful financial costs. A company going through an indirect loss after a breach may lose future opportunities because the breach has damaged its reputation. It may also experience significant loss of customers and, eventually, profit.
A practical example of indirect costs is the 2013 data breach at Target. The hackers were able to steal 40 million credit and debit records and 70 million customers’ information. Afterwards, Target reported a 46% drop in sales after the breach due to decreased customer trust.
Reputational damage and loss of customer trust
A cybersecurity breach shows customers that the company they trusted doesn’t effectively protect their personal and financial information. This information leads to distrust, and customers may assume that the company is unable to handle business operations and consumer data competently. This damages the company’s reputation, which may result in loss of sales and difficulty in attracting new customers.
The 2013 Target breach eroded its reputation. The firm had to do a lot of corporate posts and guest posting on popular media sites showing its security and technology enhancements. Why? It needed to win back customer trust, and that was expensive. This means that companies can eventually get back on their feet after a major or minor data breach, but rebuilding their reputation is expensive.
Reasons why businesses need cybersecurity
Businesses undoubtedly take a significant hit during cyber-attacks. Companies can prevent these hits by employing the expertise of cybersecurity specialists in the following areas.
Expertise in threat assessment
Cybersecurity specialists scrutinize a company’s digital infrastructure to find loopholes that cybercriminals can exploit. These professionals have hands-on experience with the latest trends and tactics that hackers use, which makes it easier to spot potential attacks.
Specialists analyze the business’s network architecture, software and data handling practices. They also check the company’s daily routines for vulnerability. This can involve reviewing firewall configurations and inspecting application code.
They then use specialized tools and their knowledge of potential attack vectors to identify these vulnerabilities. For instance, a company may be using outdated software without the latest security updates, weak passwords or insecure data transmission methods.
Once the specialists find these loopholes, they set priorities for them. How? Not all vulnerabilities carry the same level of risk, and some have higher risks than others. Specialists assess the potential impact of each weakness and address them one after the other. They consider the sensitivity of the data at risk and the likelihood of a breach to decide which to prioritize.
Identifying and addressing these weaknesses can significantly reduce the risk of successful cyber-attacks. This, in turn, can help the company safeguard its data and retain its customers’ trust.
Developing and implementing security measures
Cybersecurity professionals not only find loopholes, but also create measures that can protect a company’s digital weaknesses. These specialists establish rules and procedures that govern how the company handles its systems. For example, a specialist might introduce protocols ensuring that a company frequently changes its password using differing complex terms. They may also create procedures to manage customers’ accounts and protect their privacy.
In addition, they can install antivirus programs to detect anomalies in the systems and intrusion detection systems that catch any suspicious activity. They may also introduce and manage firewalls. Firewalls are barriers that segregate the internal network of an organization from the external network of that same organization. It’s the gatekeeper that ensures that only authorized traffic passes the wall. Specialists configure and maintain these firewalls to make sure that they’re effectively keeping out potential threats.
Monitoring and response
Cybersecurity specialists set up the necessary measures to detect and prevent attacks, but they also monitor these measures to ensure that they can respond swiftly to detected threats. They establish monitoring tools to flag potential threats, and then investigate those threats to find out if a breach has occurred or if it’s imminent.
Once they can identify the danger, specialists try to contain and neutralize it. Neutralizing it may include isolating the affected systems to prevent the spread of malware or blocking the IP address used by cybercriminals.
There are several laws and regulations guarding businesses on their use and protection of data. Companies must adhere to the laws and guidelines relevant to their processes and practices, and cybersecurity specialists ensure that they meet these regulations. How? Specialists are conversant with the necessary laws and regulations that apply to their organization’s operations and help the company stick to the rules.
These regulations may vary depending on the industry, the type of data the company handles, and where it operates. For instance, there’s the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the US, and industry-specific regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) for healthcare organizations.
Understanding these requirements helps specialists put in the necessary measures to ensure compliance. Many of these regulations also require regular audits to show that the company is following the rules. Cybersecurity specialists are responsible for conducting these activities, which may include testing security protocols, auditing the company’s access logs, and preparing compliance reports.
Regulations can change over time, and regulatory bodies may introduce new ones to the industry as threats evolve. Cybersecurity specialists stay abreast of these changes to ensure that the company remains compliant. Non-compliance can result in severe penalties, including hefty fines and sanctions. For example, under GDPR, companies can be fined up to 4% of their annual global turnover or €20m for serious infringements.
Cybersecurity specialists not only oversee a company’s digital infrastructure, but also teach staff members the best practices for data security. This training could be as trivial as maintaining strong passwords or as critical as recognizing phishing attempts, which can significantly reduce the risk of a security breach.
These experts evaluate how the business stacks up against industry best practices and take note of areas where they could enhance the operations. This often includes assessing employees’ awareness of security protocols, proficiency in identifying potential threats, and whether they follow the stipulated company procedures.
Once they identify these areas, cybersecurity specialists develop training programs that fit the organization’s requirements. These programs may cover various topics, including the importance of strong passwords, the risks associated with phishing attempts, and the best practices for handling sensitive data. They can deliver this training in various ways, including in-person workshops, written guides and online training, as long as employees understand and apply the training to their daily work.
Forensic capabilities are the techniques and processes that specialists use to investigate and analyze a breach. In the event of an unpreventable breach, specialists perform digital forensics to determine how the attack happened, the extent of the damage, and how to prevent future similar attacks. How?
The first step in mending a breach is to identify the occurrence of a security incident. This identification may be triggered by an alert from the security system, reports of suspicious activity and even unusual network traffic patterns. They then make immediate containment efforts to ensure that the breach doesn’t cause further damage or spread to other systems. This could involve temporarily shutting down specific services or isolating contaminated systems.
Cybersecurity specialists may also preserve the existing state of systems and data to be used for further investigation. Preservation helps them understand the extent of the damage that a particular attack can do, and what to expect in such cases. For example, they may create digital copies of affected systems, or secure relevant physical equipment.
They may also use the preserved data to investigate the incident. They look for clues on how the breach occurred, who was responsible for the attack, and how much of the data was compromised. They also repair the damage and restore normal operations by repairing damaged files, restoring the systems from backups, and removing malicious codes from the system.
These professionals also report their findings on the nature of the attack and the steps they took to address it. Reporting involves other stakeholders in the situation, and the company can also tender this report for legal or regulatory purposes in the near future.
Hiring cybersecurity specialists might be an upfront investment, especially for companies dealing with large datasets. However, it can save businesses significant costs in the long run by preventing data breaches and minimizing downtime.
Hiring cybersecurity specialists requires an initial outlay of funds. Companies might incur the cost of recruiting and hiring staff, purchasing security software and hardware, and investing in employee training and education. While they might be costly, they are essential to establishing a robust cybersecurity posture.
Security breaches can disrupt a company’s operations and cause downtime, which can result in reduced productivity and business loss. Cybersecurity specialists can mitigate these risks by ensuring that the company has strong security measures, saving it from the financial and reputation loss that often accompanies these attacks.
Another advantage of hiring a cybersecurity specialist is that companies can save costs in the long run by avoiding regulatory penalties for losing customers’ private information. Ultimately, the money they save from getting a specialist outweighs the initial investment in cybersecurity specialists.
Cybersecurity specialists efficiently identify, prevent and mitigate the risks accompanying cyber threats. These specialists are vital in protecting the company’s overall risk management strategy and keeping its systems away from hackers.
Specialists identify the various threats that could impact the company’s digital assets. This might include everything from external threats such as hacking and phishing attacks to internal threats such as employee errors or system failures.
They also assess these identified risks to understand their potential impact and likelihood. This assessment considers the financial losses and operational damage that a breach might cause and the probability of the attack reoccurring.
After assessing the risks, cybersecurity specialists take steps to mitigate them. They might implement security measures designed to prevent breaches and respond to incidents when they occur. It doesn’t stop there. These professionals also set up technical solutions such as encryption and intrusion detection systems, and procedural measures such as incident response plans and employee training programs.
The specialists then communicate these cybersecurity risks to other stakeholders in the company, including management, employees and sometimes even customers. This helps ensure that everyone understands the importance of cybersecurity and aligns with the company’s risk management strategy.
The role of cybersecurity professionals in safeguarding a company’s digital assets becomes increasingly crucial as the severity of cyber threats evolves.
They identify potential vulnerabilities, implement robust security measures, monitor systems and respond swiftly to digital threats. All these help guarantee the company’s operational stability and financial health and protect its customers’ data.
Cybersecurity professionals help companies abide by regulatory compliance to avoid potential legal implications. They also train staff on security awareness and help reduce the risk of cyber-attacks. All these protect businesses without compromising the integrity of their operations.