Data – The most valuable business asset in the technological age

cyber security
Third Windows zero day exploit uncovered.
The internet has created the perfect platform for cyber criminals to grow and prosper.
The internet has created the perfect platform for cyber criminals to grow and prosper.

Cybercrime is expected to cost businesses about R78 trillion by 2021, according to statistics quoted by Cisco Connect South Africa. The internet has created the perfect platform for cyber criminals to grow and prosper as they find ways around security systems and many people and businesses alike, are still not optimally protecting their valuable information.

This is according to Celeste Buitendag, Cyber Risk Underwriter at SHA Specialist Underwriters, who states that information is one of the most valuable assets a business owns in this technological age and criminals will go to extensive lengths to get their hands on such information to use it for fraudulent purposes. “Whilst individuals have grown more cautious when handling sensitive data and many businesses have implemented rigid technological security systems to protect confidential information, cyber criminals are finding new ways to get around these systems to steal information.”

In its 2017 Global Risks Report, the World Economic Forum listed technology as one of the top four risk areas for this year. According to the report, new and revolutionary structures represent opportunities for streamlining everyday lives, but also bring many potential dangers including mismanagement, vulnerabilities, accidents, unforeseen occurrences and malicious use.

Buitendag says that cyber attacks over the past few years have demonstrated that no company is immune to having its customers’ personal details hacked and businesses must therefore have appropriate cover in place to cover the costs brought against the company in the event of such a breach.

“Even a small scale cyber breach can lead to catastrophic reputational harm or even bankruptcy. While it is important that companies spend a substantial amount of time and money firewalls and IT security generally, the internet is the common playground for cyber criminals and it is vital that all businesses, regardless of its size, also have cyber insurance to ensure business continuity.”

She explains that a Cyber Insurance policy will protect an organisation against liability for data breaches, as well as first party expenses such as the actual costs to restore, re-collect or replace data, loss of business income, notification expenses for communication to affected third parties, crisis management expenses and associated regulatory fines and penalties to the extent insurable by law.

“It is imperative for an organisation to consult with a reputable insurance broker to ensure that all the possible vulnerabilities and threats relating to the business and the industry have been taken into account to avoid the financial and reputational risks of falling victim to cybercrime,” concludes Buitendag.

Staff Writer