Why Data Security is Crucial to Business Prosperity
In the age of big data, the amount of information that companies collect is unprecedented. All that data, however, presents a tempting target for hackers. Even for intruders who aren’t interested in grabbing customer or corporate data find value in getting past data security systems in order to take control of resources on networks. Data analysis is increasingly critical to financial success in a wide range of industries, and that means that companies need to be invested in protecting their customers and themselves.
We tend to think of certain organizations, such as big credit card companies, as the main targets of hacking, but the bad guys aren’t disinclined to hit a smaller operation, especially if they feel they can get quickly in and out. Worse, the good guys are sometimes the ones who cause a breach. The Boston Medical Center discovered in March 2014 that 15,000 patient records had been exposed due to a failure of a third-party services provider. Records were accessible without a password, and the data includes names, addresses and medical data. More astonishingly, the incident was the product of poor practices and not an overt hacking attempt.
A 2016 report found that only about a quarter of businesses seem to have a full understanding of the challenges they face. Even the ones that consider themselves to be knowledgeable about and tough on security anticipate continued attempts at breaching their systems, regardless of their efforts. Recovery times from breaches are expected to be at least 8 weeks per incident.
Unusual Hacking Goals
Data breaches themselves aren’t the only thing hackers are interested in these days. In January 2018, an attack on Kaseya, a company that works with managed services providers, was discovered. No information was lost because the intruders weren’t even looking for it, even though they could’ve taken whatever they wanted. The hackers were instead taking over servers to use their processing power to make money in the booming cryptocurrency market. Only third-party data analysis of activity on the systems exposed what was happening.
Hackers are increasingly hitting targets from all directions, from installing viruses to sending fake emails hoping to get someone to give them a password. Others are using automated tools to brute force their way into protected systems.
One advantage of big data systems is that they can actually be turned into tools for data security defense. Many organizations utilize artificial intelligence to study information from incoming connections to computers, allowing them to identify patterns that human security specialists might miss. These big data-driven sentries are always on guard, and they have the capacity to learn and adjust as attacks evolve.
As more incidents have occurred, governments have begun to catch up. Extremely strict rules went into effect in the European Union in 2018 with the advent of the General Data Protection Regulation. Fines for failures of data security compliance could hypothetically reach into the tens of billions in Euros, and any company that interacts with even one citizen of an EU member state may be exposed to liability. That’s a huge risk for a shop somewhere in America to take just to make a couple more sales overseas. For those assembling true big data resources, that poses an existential risk.
Companies need to stop seeing IT security as the domain of a specific department and start treating it as a part of an organization-wide cultural shift. All the way up to the C-suite level, training needs to be provided to ensure that decision-makers fully appreciate the challenges before their companies. Encryption of data, especially with the arrival of the GDPR and its accompanying regime of fines, should be seen as non-negotiable.
A threat response team should also be in place at every organization that collects big data information. Being able to identify and respond to attacks sooner is estimated to reduce the per customer cost of a breach by $14, according to one report. By taking a proactive approach, an enterprise can reduce its exposure and improve overall time to bounce back.
Are You Protected?
Many big data tools, even in 2018, are not as up-to-date on their security as you would expect. These tools lack security details such as multi-factor authentication, breach alerts, and much more. Your company’s data is irreplaceable and unlike any other; using software without maximum security is like throwing out thousands, even millions, of dollars. Invest in software that puts your data’s security before anything else.