Companies were faced with several challenges following the pandemic, not just ensuring business continuity but also reducing the risk of cybersecurity incidents. Although remote working might have guaranteed business continuity for many enterprises, it still produced several negative results, particularly in terms of protecting companies, workers, and their data.
Cyberattacks caused by ransomware have been a leading cause of data breaches around the globe. Ransomware has affected a wide range of organizations since the pandemic began, including GPS company Garmin, fuel companies like Colonial Pipeline and Saudi Aramco, and worldwide meat provider JBS.
Security firm FireEye and IT solutions provider Solar Winds were allegedly targeted by state-sponsored breaches, and they too suffered losses, with the SolarWinds hack being called the greatest hack of all time.
An IBM Security and Ponemon Institute report indicates that security incidents caused by the pandemic became more costly and more difficult to contain because of dramatic organizational changes. As compared to last year, costs rose by 10%. On average, the cost to compromise organizations was almost $4,241,000 per incident, the highest ever cost for the report in its 17-year history.
In the first half of 2020, as the pandemic intensified, organizations had to adopt new technological approaches, with many urging or expecting workers to telecommute, and 60% of companies moving to cloud-based operations during the crisis. The company’s ability to respond efficiently to data breaches might have been hindered because security lags behind these quick IT changes.
The Yearly Cost of a Data Breach Report detected the following trends among the companies considered:
- Remote work impact: On average, breaches cost over $1 million more when remote work is cited as a contributing factor.
- Medical services breach costs flood: All enterprises experienced more breaches, but medical breaches cost the most per incident, at $9.23 million.
- Compromised credentials lead to compromised data: The most common data types exposed in data breaches are stolen client credentials and client personal data (like name, email, secret password). These data types make up 44% of breaches. By exposing usernames and passwords, attackers were also given the influence to conduct additional attacks.
- Current approaches lessen costs: Artificial intelligence (AI), security analytics, and encryption were the three best moderating elements exhibited to decrease the cost of a breach. These companies that used a hybrid cloud strategy experienced a lower cost of data breaches than those that relied on public clouds or private clouds.
Mega breaches and the US
On average, a mega breach compromises between 50 million and 65 million records and costs an incredible US$401 million, almost 100 times more than the average breach. Although they invest heavily in cybersecurity, large companies continue to be targeted for cybercriminals simply because they may have a weakness that could be exploited.
Data breaches in the US are typically the most costly per incident, followed by those in the Middle East and Canada. State-sponsored attacks and cyber espionage are likely the primary reasons these areas continue to be heavily targeted. State-sponsored attacks and cyber espionage have been effectively managed by the US along with its partners and other forces like Russia.
In addition, breaches have been recognized more enthusiastically, with the average detection and containment taking 287 days. In addition to the medical care industry, other industries affected by data breaches included the financial sector, pharma, retail, media, and the public sector.
In the wake of fast-paced technological changes during the pandemic, Chris McCurdy, Vice President and General Manager at IBM Security, says higher data breach costs are one more added cost for organizations.
The report showed a record high for data breach costs over the previous year but also showed that current security measures, like artificial intelligence, automation, and the adoption of a zero-trust approach, might be able to mitigate the cost of these incidents later on.
Reducing breaches with a zero-trust approach
The zero-trust approach eliminates the possibility of data breaches in organizations. It relies on artificial intelligence and analytics to consistently approve connections between users, data, and resources under the zero-trust approach, which assumes that credentials or physical networks are already compromised.
Companies have experienced fewer compromises as a result of such security implementations. Furthermore, they will have an added level of visibility over their telecommuters’ activities. At the same time, Cybersecurity is seeing fewer breaches using AI because of threat intelligence, automation of IoT, and network security that empower better security.
Managed Business Continuity Services: Some organizations have found that having a security and incident response and business continuity team handling security issues, as well as outsourcing their cybersecurity to managed service providers, has allowed them to have better control over their security.