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The Landscape, The Impacts
Cyberattacks have been increasing in both number and the amount of damage caused
- 42%In 2016, 44 percent of cyberattacks originated in Russia, and 42 percent of all cyberattacks targeted North America (source)
- 22%In 2016, the retail industry was the most common target, with 22 percent of incidents affecting retail. Food and beverage was next, comprising 20 percent of cyber attacks (source)
- $154Every stolen record costs businesses an average of $154 (source)
- 40%In 2016, data breaches increased by 40 percent from 2015 (source)
- $7.7MIn 2015, organizations that suffered cyberattacks lost an average of $7.7 million each (source)
- $7Appointing a Chief Information Security Officer could save businesses $7 per record (source)
- $2.1MEmploying security experts who focus solely on cybersecurity and threat detection could save businesses $2.1 million every year (source)
- $3.7MSecurity intelligence software systems could save businesses $3.7 million every year by helping prevent and detect cyberattacks and data breaches (source)
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The Case Study
The cyberattack that shook the world came from a teenager
A watershed moment in cybersecurity came in February 2000, when a Canadian teenager targeted the most heavily trafficked online search engine of the time with a denial-of-service attack that overloaded the site’s servers, resulting in an hour-long shutdown. Over the next week, he would use the same method to take down a major news site, and more than one dominant online retailer.
It was a landmark case: the first of its scope and impact (prosecutors estimated that the victims of the attacks suffered millions of dollars in damage and lost business) and a wake-up call for businesses and organizations around the world that the relatively new world of cyberspace required security measures. Information didn’t necessarily need to be stolen for a company to be hurt: disrupting a site was enough.
Multiple government agencies were enlisted to track him down, but the damage had already been done. Today, it’s no longer just amateur teenagers carrying out these attacks, but organized criminal structures that hold a site’s functionality for ransom, sometimes for huge amounts of money. Attacks can come from foreign governments, domestic pot-stirrers, or members of crime syndicates, and businesses need to have their ears to the ground at all times.
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The first line of offense is still a thorough, preemptive defense
Early detection and prevention are still a core part of any organization’s cybersecurity plan. These days, being able to detect and guard against cyberattacks means being able to log and analyze vast amounts of data in real time and find even the slightest anomalies in that data as soon as possible.
Threat management is best performed by sophisticated software; software can collect and analyze patterns in data more quickly and accurately than a person. When it comes to actually interpreting that analysis and deciding what patterns and trends mean, the security expertise of actual people is key. Whether it’s laser-accurate detection of malicious data or users or red flags over suspicious activities on any device on an organization’s servers, threat management is half the battle for safety.
Having visibility on the threats that are constantly evolving and evading detection is key in our day and age. Read about AT&T’s threat management services, which help you prevent, detect, and respond to a variety of cyberthreats, here.
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How Did We Get Here?
Technology may have advanced, but our security hasn't always followed
Scams and schemes that take advantage of distance and people’s trust are relatively timeless. The “Nigerian prince” advance-fee trick that has become part of common vocabulary can actually be traced back to the 18th century, when it was known as the “Spanish prisoner,” in which an anonymous friend of a friend contacted a target by mail, asking for funds necessary to free a distant, wealthy relative from a captor.
The digital sphere has opened the way for other versions of old schemes: ransomware, an increasingly popular form of cyberattack, shuts down a company’s access to its own data and servers—or threatens to publish that data—and effectively holds them hostage until a specified ransom is paid. Identity theft has evolved to become a digital issue, as well: Account fraud and the theft of personal information from online databases still takes billions of dollars away from American consumers every year.
As many of our experts emphasize, technology itself has become exponentially more sophisticated, but mindsets haven't always followed. “Technical debt,” the concept that the failure to consistently upgrade security philosophies and capabilities over time increases vulnerability, can no longer be ignored as the stakes extend to politics, government, and health care.
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The New Emergency Respondent
Security concerns—and failures—have produced an entirely new industry
Cybersecurity is no longer just an IT consideration: It’s a business consideration, vital to the reputation, assets, and value of an organization. It makes sense, then, that cybersecurity has blossomed into a global, thriving industry, estimated to reach a value of $1 trillion in 2021, according to research group Cybersecurity Ventures. This includes both security software and human expertise, be it new positions centered around cybersecurity within companies, or third-party advisors and respondents.
There is growing recognition that such expertise can no longer be limited to preventing and predicting cyberattacks. The arsenal of cyberattacks is now so sophisticated and prolific that attacks and breaches, experts say, are simply inevitable. Businesses must be able to quickly recover from them and salvage their reputation. External experts are plentiful in times of emergency, but research has shown that containment of threats is 60 percent quicker when a breach is self-detected, not found by a third party.
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