Your network is under siege. Yes, yours. Constantly. Every second of the day. Digital assets and information stored on your network are valuable to someone somewhere, even if your business doesn’t store credit cards, personal identification information, or anything protected under federal law. Hackers, digital pirates, or whatever you want to call them can do a lot of damage to your bottom line and reputation.
Ranging from a few thousand to more than a million dollars, the numbers associated with the actual cost of a network breach range about as widely as the number of new threats popping up daily. So let’s suffice it to say that number-wise, the cost depends on:
- How many hours or days are your employees unproductive due to breach-related network issues.
- The fees of IT security experts to address the problems.
- The fees of attorneys and resulting monetary awards should those affected choose litigation.
- The marketing and administration costs of informing those affected.
- The expense of updating or purchasing new security hardware and/or software.
- The cost of recovering lost data.
Also, there is a non-monetary cost to your business. For example, you cannot put a price on trust or your company’s reputation. It was hard-earned and costly to gain back. Likewise, damage control is impossible to put a price tag on.
Add these prohibitive costs together, and you have the reason why company leaders are examining their network and IT security posture. Also, why they are increasing the budget toward a comprehensive security program.
What should you do?
Where is that additional budget going? To in-house IT security staff or outsourced network security experts? Even if a company has an internal IT department, it’s wise to bring in outside experts. Your IT team works in somewhat of a bubble, dealing with your hardware, software, and systems. Understandably, your team gets caught up in the inner workings of your four walls. By bringing in outside IT security experts, you get the benefit of another perspective.
This outside person is someone whose job is to keep current on the latest threats and deals with their ramifications in various systems and circumstances.
A massive chunk of your network security cost should be spent on prevention. Begin with a comprehensive security audit to assess risk and threats to the state of your current network. Penetration testing is a validation activity; used to measure the success of an existing, documented program and whether the ideal on paper is being followed in the real world. It can also be used to show that a theoretical vulnerability can practically be attacked. Next comes developing and executing a network and IT security strategy covering your specific and unique security concerns. This strategy should take your industry and business goals into account since security threats can be highly specialized based on the type of data on your network. That strategy lays the groundwork for developing an information security program that protects your network daily. That program should encompass a wide range of security technology, training, policies, standards, and guidelines. Many sec programs fail not because of the tech but because of the human (and gaps to address the human) that provide a solid, protective framework for your IT infrastructure.
An audit followed by a solid network security program is an excellent and necessary start. But, nothing is perfect, as we’ve seen with the proliferation of data breaches from organizations and companies from which you would least expect it. If the likes of an insurance company, financial institution, and government networks can be penetrated, so can yours. Therefore, having a biz continuity/disaster plan is an essential component of an effective security program.
In the best scenario, your employees are mildly inconvenienced until the network is secured again. In the worst case, you find yourself front and center of a federal criminal, public relations nightmare. And, to think… it could all be avoided by creating and implementing a network and IT security strategy that addresses your specific and often unique security concerns.
If you are sufficiently nervous, even scared, good. Our “collective” personal data and a company’s most valuable assets are at stake. If the network and data security costs have you concerned, visit our Network and IT Security page to learn about our approach. Our job is to keep you from entering a security maelstrom, and you can talk to one of our team members about your options.