The rising cost of cyber-attacks and how to avoid them


By Guy Bunker in response to Bede McCarthy in the Financial Times

Bede McCarthy from the Financial Times wrote an excellent article this week on the cost associated with cyber-attacks. The report showed that the majority of small and large businesses have suffered some form of security breach and that the costs associated with dealing with the breaches were significant. There was some interesting information on ‘repeat breaches’ which had gone up by half.

This backs up my experiences with APTs (Advanced Persistent Threats) where, once inside the organisation they are very difficult to remove – and while companies reported repeated breaches – it is likely that they probably stemmed from one occurrence which was not completely removed from the organization infrastructure.

The ability for small companies to bid for money (up to £5,000) from the government to help them improve their cyber-defences is very positive. 

All companies must now consider the three major components of a strategy for dealing with APTs:

1) Install a solution to detect and prevent information from leaving the organisation. Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions are very cost effective and available for smaller companies as well as larger ones.

2) Prevent the APT from ‘arriving’ inside the organisation. Traditional anti-virus and anti-malware products are a start, but it is technology such as whitelisting that can really make a difference here.

3) Installing a network based analysis solution, to watch for anomalous behaviour works well in this space (but solutions can be cost prohibitive for smaller companies.)

My final comment is focused on good security practice (not just APTs), it is important to educate employees on security risks and consequences, making them aware of the types of threat they face, how to recognise one and what to do (and who to contact) should they feel unsure.

Even for those which are unsuccessful in applying for the grant, the renewed emphasis on cyber-security is good, and a little forward planning can help businesses prioritise putting solutions in place to protect their most important asset… their business information.