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RISK / SECURITY

Cyber Attacks Coming to a Business Near You

Robert Regis Hyle | November 11, 2014

As the holiday season closes in on us, it’s the time of the year when we break out our credit cards and say a little prayer that the websites we shop on and the retail stores we visit will protect our information from cyber criminals.

Although we missed National Cyber Security Month—which was in October—it’s never too late (or too early for that matter) to take whatever steps are possible to secure your data and the data of your customers.

The Pew Research Internet Project issued a report on cybersecurity in late October and one of the questions they asked was: By 2025, will a major cyber attack have caused widespread harm to a nation’s security and capacity to defend itself and its people? By “widespread harm,” Pew meant significant loss of life or property losses/damage/theft at the levels of tens of billions of dollars.

Now 2025 is a long way out there. With the speed and advancements made in technology, you would think that over the next decade our scientists would be able to provide better protection for data. But the responses Pew received reminded us once again that when it comes to issues such as security and fraud, we always seem to be playing catch up.

Sixty-one percent of those responding to the Pew question believe such an attack will take place, while 39 percent of respondents kept whistling in the dark as they passed the cemetery of famous cyber attacks with prominent gravestones for Target, Nationwide Home Depot and others.

Computer scientist Jeremy Epstein, who took part in the Pew research, doesn’t have much faith in our government’s ability to handle such an attack.

“Due to political gridlock and bureaucratic inertia, the government will be unable to defend itself, even if it knows how,” writes Epstein. “The issue is not primarily one of technical capability (although we’re sorely lacking in that department). The primary issue is a lack of policy/political/economic incentives and willpower to address the problem.”

Epstein was speaking about our government, but he might as well have been addressing big business as well. Insurers are professionals at managing risk and advising others on how to do so as well, but security is not sexy and there’s no payoff, other than the ability to sleep well at night.

I guess a good night’s sleep is overrated.


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