Our Cloud, Security, and data expert Malcolm Mason highlights the devastating consequences of a security breach and the importance to every business to understand the risks.

The commercial fallout from a security breach can be devastating. Loss of reputation, revenue and trust can threaten a business’s very survival – and attacks are becoming ever more frequent, sophisticated, and severe.

If the pandemic illustrated one thing about cybercrime, it was the speed with which criminals adapt and maximise the opportunities presented to them. Technical vulnerabilities will always be a soft target, and human frailties, brought about by increased psychological pressures, have been brutally exposed.

To some extent, GDPR measures have helped organisations improve security and protection, but according to Statista, only 35% of companies have a board member with direct responsibility for cyber security, and only 16% have a formal security incident management process in place. Gartner believe that by 2022, at least 95% of cloud security failures will be due to customer mismanagement and mistakes.

The ever-changing threat landscape makes ongoing security management an essential requirement. Weak protection and lack of preparedness for new attacks leaves organisations exposed and vulnerable, and those with robust security protection are well positioned against less diligent competitors.

Devastating impact of a breach

When an attack occurs, the loss of data, reputation and revenue can be catastrophic, and it may be further exacerbated by regulatory fines imposed for failure to adequately protect systems and information. ‘WannaCry’, the most infamous ransomware attack to date infected computer systems in 150 countries and caused major disruption to the UK National Health Service. Security breaches and multi-million-pound fines have been imposed on household names like British Airways, H&M, Marriott and Google, and no one it seems is exempt from an attack.

A UK government survey recently reported that around 40% of companies came under attack in the first quarter of 2021, and this figure rises to over 65% for medium and large organisations.

DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks force system downtime for hours or days and cause serious damage to customer service and reputation. Malware and ransomware attacks reap similar havoc, and companies face the dilemma of either paying the attackers or risking the consequences of downtime and recovery.

Managing the threat landscape is an on-going necessity, and planning for disaster before it occurs is vital. Companies recovering from an attack often spend too much time analysing the incident, and apportioning blame for the consequences, when more positive, decisive action is urgently needed.

Today’s threats often combine extortion tactics with disruptive data theft, and warnings are often missed as security teams struggle with endless vulnerabilities and huge data sets.  Frequent alerts from multiple security tools often result in the prioritisation of the wrong issues, and when an attack occurs - the deployment of further security product leaves many organisations with multiple point solutions that lack integration and increase the complexity of their security management.

Having an end-to-end security strategy which is continually reviewed, assessed, and tested is the best way to provide on-going protection, and it’s something we strongly believe in. Experts working full-time in the cyber security arena provide levels of protection way above enterprise in-house capabilities and asking your IT department to run rigorous in-house threat protection whilst working on more positive, business enhancing initiatives is a ‘high risk’ approach.

In many cases, the commercial and reputational damage from a security breach is not anticipated, and too often organisations allocate insufficient funds to the security budget, forcing IT managers to simply plug known gaps with further stand-alone point products.

Understanding current and future potential threats, including regulatory and compliance requirements, is the optimum strategy. This is best achieved working with experts in security to build and maintain levels of protection appropriate to the organisation.

On-going and iterative security functions utilise layered services that are specific to a business and its human IT requirements. Regular testing for vulnerabilities and business wide education programmes are part of an overall strategy to keep operations secure, protected and running in the event of a cyber-attack.

It’s estimated that currently, 50% of UK businesses outsource their cybersecurity management. IT strategy decision makers are realising that working with security experts to embed and integrate advanced protection across connectivity, cloud services, infrastructure, systems, and data is the best way to secure the enterprise on an ongoing basis.

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