This Costs the U.S. Economy $100 Billion Each Year
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Do you worry about identity theft, someone hacking your bank account or spoofing your fingerprints to access your brand new, just-out-of-the-box iPhone 5? Well, circle the wagons, because the bad guys are coming, guns a-blazin'. There's a herd of loose data out there, and it's costing us a bundle to round it back up.
Patient medical records have been found in dumpsters, recycle bins and a Dallas city park. Nearly every day, unencrypted laptops are stolen, containing customer records with detailed personal information.
Even the IRS posted tens of thousands Social Security numbers, names, street and email addresses of unsuspecting, flag waving, tax-paying citizens on its website a few months ago. Turns out somebody stumbled upon a basic search glitch.
You're not even safe when you're just trying to be social. A new phishing bait has just been flung on Facebook.
With the recent news of the hacking of credit card information from 3 million Adobe customers still fresh on our minds, consider this: the average cost of resolving a single cyber attack against a business totals more than $1 million, according to research just released by the Ponemon Institute.
The increasing frequency of cybercrime: is it the result of sophisticated anonymous hackers hidden in dimly lit overseas boiler room? In fact, the most costly cybercrimes are caused by denial-of-service, malicious-insider and web-based attacks, all accounting for more than 55% of cybercrime costs per organization on an annual basis. But that leaves a substantial number of the breaches caused by knuckleheaded mistakes, the clumsy efforts of petty thieves and downright technical incompetence.
The 2013 Cost of Cyber Crime Study finds that the average annualized cost of cybercrime was $11.56 million ranging from $1.3 million to $58 million per organization. That's an increase of 26% over last year, and up 78% in just four years.
And it's not just a big business concern. Small and medium sized businesses spend more per-capita on battling cybercrime. According to the Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), chairman of the U.S. House Small Business Subcommittee on Health and Technology, an astounding 60% of small businesses will shut down within six months of suffering a cyber attack.
What can a small-mid business do? Here are some cybercrime fighting tips from security experts:
- Keep your data away from free Wi-Fi. If you, your sales people or your support crew are likely to take a latte break at the coffee shop around the corner while diligently working on a company laptop, that free hotspot might cost you a bundle. Data held on a laptop or mobile device that doesn't have file sharing restrictions enabled will be shared with anyone else on the wireless network. That allows for an easy injection of malware.
- This could be a huge setback to morale, but employees who visit social networking sites while on the job put your data at risk, too. So does instant messaging and the downloading of data from file sharing services. Not to mention those "entertainment" sites some employees might visit on their break.
- Your company website could be a welcome mat for malware. Hackers look for ways to gain customer and company information by installing "drive-by downloads" into unprotected websites. How to find out if your site has been infected? Google Webmaster Tools scans sites and reports malware and it's free.
- Upgrade passwords to passphrases -- and change them often.
- Consider utilizing a standalone computer that is not on a shared network for financial transactions, and check bank transactions frequently. Daily, if feasible.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies estimates the cost of cybercrime to the U.S. economy is $100 billion annually, effectively amounting to over 500,000 lost jobs. Businesses in financial services, defense, energy and utilities experience substantially higher cybercrime costs than those in retail, hospitality and consumer products, according to the Ponemon Institute. Taking a few proactive steps to guard your business against cybercrime and keeping that laptop in the bag when you're at Starbucks could save you more than a few headaches.