Cybersecurity comprises an evolving set of tools, risk management approaches, technologies, training, and best practices designed to protect networks, devices, programs, and data from attacks or unauthorized access. Today, cyber attacks are no longer stopped by antivirus software or firewalls. The risk of cyber attacks is constantly increasing for companies and institutions.
Cybersecurity is about risk management. Businesses that see the opportunities beyond just preventing data breaches and minimizing cyber threats can begin to realize the full potential and benefits that cybersecurity can bring to a business.
1. Protection against external threats
Millions of cyber threats are being created annually and at significant cost to businesses, exceeding $1 trillion in 2020 alone.
While primarily launched for financial gain, the reasons behind cyber attacks can be as varied as the perpetrators themselves. Whether it’s cyber criminals, hacktivists, or industrial spies, the common ground these bad actors share is how agile, sophisticated, and stealthy their attacks are becoming.
However, a robust cyber security posture that accounts for regularly-updated software can help organizations detect and respond to the methods, devices, and entry points being exploited, including:
- IoT devices
- Cloud and remote service attacks
- Fileless attacks
- Artificial Intelligence
- Supply chain attacks
- Social engineering
- Man-in-the-middle (MitM)
- Denial of service
- Domain name system attack
- SQL injection
- Advanced Persistent Threats (ATPs)
- Zero-day exploits
2. Protection against internal threats
The weakest link in the cyber security chain remains the human factor. Whether accidental, negligent, or outright malicious, insider threats can come from current or former employees, third-party vendors, or even trusted partners.
The exponential growth of remote work, personal devices used for business applications, and even IoT devices in remote settings can help these threats fly under the radar until it’s too late.
But with proactive monitoring of networks and managed access, detecting and responding to threats can reduce costly incidents. Moreover, providing consistent, up-to-date training can help turn the risk your people currently are into the extension of the cyber security solution you need.
3. Regulation compliance
In response to the increased cyber threats and exposure of sensitive data businesses face today, many regulatory bodies are setting standards to help protect organizations and their customers. These regulatory standards include GDPR, HIPAA, PCI DDS, and SOX, to name a few.
For industries that remain underregulated, there’s an opportunity for businesses to invest in cyber security and see compliance as more than an obligation.
In fact, according to data privacy and cyber security law expert Jamal Hartenstein, leaders could approach cyber security in regulatory compliance as “a competitive advantage, getting ahead of industry competition before underregulated industries become regulated.”
4. Improved productivity
Viruses and cyber attacks can slow networks and personal devices down to a crawl, making it virtually impossible for employees to work for websites to function. And for business to operate.
By implementing a range of cyber security measures — such as improved firewalls, virus scanning and automated backups — you can drastically reduce violations and the downtime it takes to remedy the breach. Education and training can help employees identify potential email phishing scams, suspect links, and other nefarious criminal efforts.
5. Cost savings and value
According to the Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report 2021, the average cost of a single cyber attack to a small business in the U.S. is $25,612. Because only about 40% of SMBs operate at a profit — the loss of data and cost to recover it, downtime to restart operations, and hefty fines can be a steep price.
As cyber-attacks grow more sophisticated and complex every day, it’s important to weigh the cost of dealing with one attack versus the value of taking preventative measures. By mitigating risks, you put your business in a better position to respond, recover, and keep existing customers happy — a far more cost-efficient option than attracting new ones.
6. Brand trust and reputation
The most significant case to make for the benefits of cyber security in business is the reputation you earn.
One of the most important factors in business growth is customer retention. Maintaining brand loyalty through a robust cyber security position is paramount for customers today and the shortest path to repeat business, recommendations, and higher per-ticket purchases.
It also opens doors to potential future ventures and expansion, helping producers land on the vendor list with larger organizations as part of their supply chain — that are only as strong as their weakest link. According to the National Institute of Information Technology (NIST), the factors that allow for low-cost interoperability and rapid innovation also increase the risk of compromise. With so many high-profile cyber breaches in the past two years alone, larger companies are closely examining the cyber security practices of third-party vendors.
Credit: Dean Dorton