office-superheroWhen did you realize the most important role in your job description was guardian? No not guardian of the galaxy, like the movie, but of your corporate data. Yours, your employees’, your company’s and your customers’ data is all at risk and you’re charged with keeping it safe.

The Online Trust Alliance (OTA) announced its 2014 Data Protection & Breach Readiness Guide, and within it were some statistics that truly boggle the mind. Working on data from the Open Security Foundation and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, the OTA estimated that over 740 million online records were exposed in 2013, the worst year for data breaches in history.

Further, in the first half of 2013, there were around 500 data breaches and 89 percent the OTA concluded as avoidable.1

Wait, what?!

Surely as guardian, you’ve taken the necessary precautions required through PCI Compliance, HIPPA, as well as your company’s electronic policies to protect your data so there isn’t information at risk under your watch. Right?

Let’s take a bird’s eye view:

  • Do you have employees working from remote locations? Free Wi-Fi is great for everyone including being the easiest place for cyber bandits to steal your CRM and data lists.
  • Do you have employees that log in to your company’s network using their own devices? Unknowingly they may unleash hidden viruses and malware into your entire system.
  • Ever receive an email from American Express about your account? You were duped when you clicked the link for help and instead opened the portal from a phishing site to grab user names and passwords.

Data breaches are among the most common and costly security failures in organizations of any size. And with today’s data moving freely between corporate networks, mobile devices, and the cloud, data breach statistics show this disturbing trend is rapidly accelerating.

Costs affect more than the bottom line:

19% = Lost Revenue

21% = Lost Productivity

10% = Technical Support

8% = Compliance/Regulatory

29% = Reputation and Brand Damage

According to research by IBM Security Services, the financial consequences of a security breach can add up in more ways than most businesses are prepared to handle.2

Now we’re not here to point fingers, just giving you some facts to consider: The average cost of a single, successful cyber attack is $300k according to IBM X-Force Trend and Risk Report AND the Symantec 2013 Costs of Data Breach reports that almost two-thirds of data breaches are caused by human errors and system glitches.

So what is a guardian like you to do? Nothing is fail safe against attacks or the ramifications that follow but there are steps you can take to be proactive. For starters, let’s review the security measures you have in place right now. Let’s review your firewall and password security; maybe you need stronger authentication or something more automated. Sometimes it’s your data processes that are make it easy for a data breach. Building a process, implementing the right tools and ongoing evaluations of your systems will make being guardian of your corporate data a much easier job to have.

1 January 23, 2014, 2013 Was the Worst Year for Data Breaches by DJ Pangburn

2 April 2014, IBM Security Services, 2014 Cyber Security Intelligence Index

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