If you’re worried about how cybercrime could affect your company, you’re most definitely not alone. A recent Accenture study revealed that over the next five years, the cost of cybercrime is expected to exceed $5.2 trillion for companies the world over. How do we as a society combat that? I’ll guess that we collectively agree that none of us can ignore the threat of cybercrime, regardless of the size or focus of our businesses, let’s take a deeper look at the study and see how we can put the insights to use.
About the Study
The Accenture survey was comprised of responses from some 1,700 C-suite executives all over the world. The report, Securing the Digital Economy: Reinventing the Internet for Trust, explores the ultimate cost of cybercrime and also looks at the challenges so many businesses now face due to the fact that the internet is such a major part of their existence. Most companies find it difficult to keep up with all the safeguards that are now necessary to protect them from cybercrime—thus, the $5.2 trillion cost of cybercrime figure.
Cost of Cybercrime: Key Figures from the Study
The Accenture report noted some interesting facts, including a prediction as to which industries are likely to be most affected by security breaches. The technology sector leads the pack, predicted to lose some $753 billion from cybercrime. The industries with the next highest estimated risks are life sciences at $642 billion and the automotive industry at $505 billion.
The study also found that a whopping 79 percent of respondents think the digital economy’s advancements will be deterred without big improvements to online security. However, 75 percent said that fixing issues with cybersecurity will have to involve a group effort rather than trying to rely on one organization to do the job. That’s because this job is just too big for anyone to go it alone.
The Underlying Problem
Many study participants mentioned repeatedly that the main issue causing an increase in cybercrime is that technology has simply moved quickly for the cybersecurity industry to keep up. So as we enjoy more technological innovation, we also have to deal with more instances of cybercrime. In fact, 79 percent of respondents said their own company is coming up with new technologies faster than they can deal with current cybersecurity issues. One concrete example of an emerging technology that can add much business value, but which is also complicating cybersecurity matters, is the Internet of Things (IoT). As we rely on IoT technology in a myriad of ways across industry and in life in general, including manufacturing, utilities, smart office buildings and smart cities, to name just a few, there is also increased inherent risk.
How Do We Fix This?
So how do we get our arms around cybersecurity issues, in our businesses and in our world? Great question. Cybercriminals are smart, good at identifying vulnerabilities and opportunities, and they are fast.Today, cybersecurity measures tend to be reactive rather than proactive. So what’s the answer? Some experts say improving internet security will require CEOs—and the rest of an organization’s employees—to become part of the solution from the start, rather than relying on the IT team and its security experts to fix the issues.
Incident response, identity management, privacy and data protection, and cyber risk management all need to be the focus on regular and regular and ongoing employee training, and not simply relegated to IT to worry about. Business leaders need to understand that employees are quite literally the front line of protection when it comes to cybersecurity risk and put systems in place that are built around that understanding. In addition, companies must focus on secure software development from the very onset of every project, building in layer upon layer of protection.
Cybersecurity shouldn’t be an IT-led undertaking. This is a top-down issue and CEOs need to take charge, as the cost of cybercrime has serious business implications. CEOs must embrace a mindset of security first, and lead the pack on the cybersecurity front, ensuring that security is built into their business strategies and that cybersecurity is a key underpinning of corporate practice, culture, and business planning. But beyond individual business focus, there’s a greater societal need—keeping one company safe isn’t enough. There’s power in numbers, commitment, and a brain trust of people focused on one shared objective. CEOs, senior leaders, government leaders, and regulators need to collectively join forces and work to develop and put systems in place that provide policies and practices that safeguard the internet and all of us who access and use the internet daily, whether we realize it or not.
If cybersecurity and the cost of cybercrime is on your mind, take a few minutes and read the full Accenture report: Securing the Digital Economy: Reinventing the Internet for Trust. It touches on the key issues facing our society as it relates to the cost of cybercrime, and the insights shared by survey respondents are ones that I’m sure will resonate with you.
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The original version of this article was first published on Inspired eLearning.
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