Organisations are not always aware of the cost a security breach, as the ripple effects of cybercrime are often more damaging than the actual theft of information, writes DOROS HADJIZENONOS, Country Manager of Check Point.
The cost of any type of theft is often a lot higher than just the value of the stolen goods. If your house was broken into, you would feel violated. While your insurance company would reimburse you for the items stolen, you might not have the same sense of security as you did before the break-in. To feel more secure, you might invest in security system upgrades and even change your habits, like going out less often or not coming home in the dark. At the end of the day, you end up spending more – and not necessarily just money – in order to feel safe again.
Corporate breaches are no different and the ripple effects of cybercrime are often more damaging than the actual theft of information. The loss of confidence – both from your company and your customers – make you overspend on security solutions, feel obligated to pay impacted suppliers and cause your customers to flee.
Tallying the cost of cybercrime
According to the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a data breach is $154 (R2,180) per record. With many incidents involving thousands or even millions of records, the average cost of a single breach is often in the region of $3.79 million. The initial “splash” costs of a breach – when the stone first hits the water – includes several direct expenses:
- The value of stolen intellectual property
- Downtime analysing, repairing and refortifying all compromised systems
- Checking all systems for additional infections
- Restoring systems from backups and checking backups for vulnerabilities
- Changing security procedures and training personnel on new safeguards
The less obvious “ripple” costs, however, can quickly overshadow these direct costs, and include:
- Reputational damage. Brand value decreases 21% as a direct result of a security breach.
- Loss of business resulting from breach of trust. Research found that 73% of US customers switch their financial service provider due to personal data theft, and 44% of financial services companies reported business loss of 20% or more due to reputation issues.
- Knock-on attacks. People often use the same passwords to access different websites. Stolen passwords from one site are used in multiple breaches targeting other sites.
- Disruption caused to other businesses, such as suppliers and partners. In the case of critical infrastructure, if one grid goes offline, hundreds or thousands of businesses could be impacted in ways not easily quantified.
In 2013, US retail chain Target suffered a data loss event in which 40 million debit and credit card records were stolen. Direct expenses added up to $248 million over two years but some sources estimate costs will exceed $2.2 billion when including losses from fraudulent charges, reimbursing suppliers, and penalties from class action lawsuits.
The ripple effects to company reputation are difficult to estimate, but very real. If a company has strong customer support and handles the situation carefully, customers may be shaken but not leave.
Organisations can protect themselves by taking a holistic approach to security instead of patching together point solutions, and by focusing on threat prevention as opposed to threat detection and remediation. To further reduce risk, they should include data loss prevention in the security mix and use best practices when configuring security.
When considering their cybersecurity goals, organisations should ask the following questions:
- Understand the situation. How confident are we that our cybersecurity is effective against zero-day threats? How well trained are my employees about cyber threats and the potential consequences of their actions?
- See what’s coming. Do we have clear visibility of log activity in all of our network segments?
- Secure workloads not servers. Do the workloads I run in virtual, cloud and software-defined environments receive the same protections as workloads run in my data centre?
- Get prepared. Do the company’s policies protect information and resources in all environments? How is the executive leadership informed about the current threat level and potential business impact of cyber-attacks?
The volume of attacks and attack points requires complete visibility into operations and centralised security management, but not complete transparency. Security officers should be cautious about exposing protection methods or discussing attack details because when cybercriminals see where attacks have an impact, they adapt their tactics. Because of this, organisations – especially financial institutions – now share attack information through shared threat intelligence feeds. Since most hackers use the same successful attack methods against multiple victims, it increases their costs if a hack method only works once. The more expensive hacking is, the lower the number of hackers, making everyone safer.
Money talks and electronic gaming evolves
Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.
The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.
The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games.
It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.
MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.
“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”
New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.
“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”
Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.
Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.
This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.
What is blockchain?
A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.
A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.
Each block stores:
– A number of valid records or transactions.
– Information referring to that block.
– A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.
Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.
As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.
How is blockchain so secure?
Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.
Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.
In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.
What else can blockchain be used for?
Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.
Use of blockchain in healthcare
Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.
Use of blockchain for documents
Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.
Other blockchain uses
This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.
Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.
Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.