The advancement of technology over the past 20 years has been remarkable. It has brought with it countless benefits for businesses and individuals, and it has redefined existing markets and created countless new ones.
This leap forward also has a dark side, though. The movie world has historically depicted master criminals as bank robbers and mob bosses, but for how long? Today, the most successful criminals are those that are able to hide behind the anonymity that the Web offers, and people are far more likely to be victimized online than in the real world.
The Times, They Are 'A Changing
Cybercrime has evolved as quickly as the technology it relies on. No longer is this dark phenomenon limited to bedroom opportunists. These days, cyber criminals are professionals. From financial crime and corporate espionage to sexual offenses and state-sponsored terrorism, the Web is a safe haven for all manner of criminal activity.
The threat posed by cybercrime is bigger than ever, and it's growing exponentially. In few places is this evidenced more clearly than within the enterprise. From SMBs with little or no security resources to global organisations with nearly unlimited security budgets, there is no escaping the stark realities of today’s interconnected world. And the financial and reputational wounds are enough to scare anyone. Sony, large retailers, and countless small and midsized enterprises have all fallen victim in the past 12 months.
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The annual global cost of cybercrime is thought to be somewhere in the region of $400 billion (£266.3 billion). The UK government estimates that cybercrime costs around £27 billion. While citizens and the government take their fair share of incidents, almost 80% (£21 billion) of this financial damage is attributed to attacks on the business community.
The media tends to only report the sexy attacks on the likes of Sony, financial institutions, and government agencies. The reality is that the vast majority of costs associated with cybercrime are financial (Carbanka attacks), intellectual property theft (Sony Pictures), and industrial espionage (unidentified German steel factory) on a massive scale.
Coping With The Inevitable
Many business leaders, particularly those in the small or midsized sector, may consider themselves impervious to such attacks; but this is a dangerous mistake. In a recent study, the British government warned: “The most seriously affected businesses are from sectors not traditionally viewed as targets of cyberattacks. And, although the government continues to focus on protecting the Critical National Infrastructure, companies in IP-rich industries are at a particular risk from cyber crime.”
For small and midsized enterprises struggling with security, Ian Trump, Security Lead for LogicNow, has this advice: “Security is about people, process, and technology. Educate your employees about cyber security risks, develop and implement processes to thwart the bad guys. Lastly, businesses can take solace in this statistic from James Lewis of CSIS: ‘75% of attacks use publicly known vulnerabilities in commercial software that could be prevented by regular patching.’ If you want a quick win for SMEs, start with patching all your things.”
It's no longer acceptable for businesses to play the victim when cybercrime strikes. Partners, shareholders, and, above all, the public expect so much more. Those that fail to realise this risk more than just financial loss.
Interop, the flagship event of London Technology Week, takes place at ExCeL London June 16 to 18 2015. Find out more here.Sean McGrath is a freelance IT writer, researcher, and journalist. He has written for PC Pro, the BBC, and TechWeekEurope, and has produced content for a range of private organizations. Although he holds a first class degree in investigative journalism, his dreams of being a ... View Full Bio