At the height of the pandemic, companies pivoted their operations to accommodate health restrictions. Most businesses have allowed their employees to work remotely to reduce the chances of the virus from spreading. The option to work from home benefited both employees and employers alike. Productivity is at an all-time high, and overhead costs are a thing of the past. However, the rapid shift to this new work set-up has become a cybersecurity pain point with data breach cost reaching an all-time high.

A recent report released by IBM revealed that the instances and the cost of data breaches reached a peak in 2020. The rapid changes in business operations are identified as the number one culprit for the unprecedented uptick. 

IBM Report: Data Breach Cost at a Record High

IBM recently released a global study on cybersecurity and data breaches. The research included 500 organizations and involved analysis of security incidents over the past 12 months. The report revealed that data breaches, on average, cost $4.24 million for every incident. This figure is the highest expense in the study’s 17-year run. 

The unprecedented rise in data breach cost is attributed to the drastic operational shifts in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 60% of organizations moved their digital assets to cloud-based databases. Likewise, 88% of organizations across the globe allowed or encouraged remote work last year. Due to the haste in implementation, cybersecurity measures failed to catch up with the changes.

The report showed the cost of security breaches in the healthcare sector to be the most expensive out of all industries. The financial and pharmaceutical sector closely follows it. The research also showed that the average response time to a data breach is 287 days –  a week longer than the previous year.

“Higher data breach costs are yet another added expense for businesses in the wake of rapid technology shifts during the pandemic. While data breach costs reached a record high over the past year, the report also showed positive signs about the impact of modern security tactics, such as AI, automation, and the adoption of a zero-trust approach – which may pay off in reducing the cost of these incidents further down the line” said Chris McCurdy, Vice President and General Manager, IBM Security.

Steps in Dealing with a Data Breach 

Data breaches are expensive. It is crucial to invest in a robust cybersecurity strategy to ensure that your digital assets remain safe. Nevertheless, often despite your due diligence, some attacks slip through the cracks. In those cases, haste is of the utmost importance. The sooner you detect an attack, the less damage your network and digital assets would incur.

Below are a few steps that you should take amidst a data breach:

  • Run an Assets Health Check

Experts agree that your first step should involve assessing the situation. Having a clear picture of the extent of the breach informs what you would do next. It is vital to be familiar with the timeline of the breach, the data that was compromised, and the parties involved. SecureBrain’s Cyberattack Health Check is the perfect software for instances like a data breach. This product sheds light on your network’s weak points and provides actionable ways to contain the breach. This particular service is deployed after a breach has occurred. 

  • Contain the Attack

There are multiple ways to contain a data breach. Your next steps should be based on the information retrieved from the health check. This second step is designed to prevent other sensitive information from leaking. 

  • Inform the Concerned Parties

When dealing with data breaches, the best recourse to protect your company’s reputation is through honesty and transparency. Develop a consistent message across all channels and inform concerned parties about the cybersecurity attack. Provide them with a means to protect their breached data. Remember to keep the statement short, succinct, and actionable. 

  • Improve Cybersecurity Protocols 

Again, cybersecurity attacks and data breaches happen to the best of us. Every year, these malicious attempts get more sophisticated, rendering most security protocols moot. A successful data breach is a wake-up call for your organization. It means that protective measures against hackers and other malicious players aren’t enough. As IBM suggests, a combination of a zero-trust approach and real-time monitoring can help improve your cybersecurity protocols. 

Data Breach Prevention: Best Practices

As they say, prevention is better than cure. This statement is true for protecting your digital assets and preventing successful data breaches. In the age of remote work, below are a few measures that your business can take to eliminate or at the very least minimize the effects of a successful cybersecurity breach: 

  • Develop Remote Work Corporate Guidelines

Your employees can be your biggest allies in protecting the company from cybersecurity attacks. It is important to provide them with clear data security guidelines to follow. A set of rules created and communicated correctly can be your business’ saving grace in the face of an attack. The guidelines should at the very least include information on:

  1. Strong Password Standards
  2. Two-Factor Authentication
  3. Personal Device Usage
  4. Data Sharing
  5. Monitor Activity

Experts cannot emphasize the importance of monitoring your network enough. After all, the most effective way of mitigating the effects of an attack is through quick response. 

  • Restrict Access to Sensitive Information

Not everyone in your organization should enjoy the same level of access to sensitive information. By limiting the employees that can view, edit, and erase data, you lessen the chances of a successful breach. 

The effects of COVID-19 have weaned over the last few months especially with the introduction of the vaccine. That said, the shifts brought upon by the pandemic are here to stay. As a business owner, it is crucial to be agile in these ever-changing times.

Modernizing operational procedures proved to lower the cost and instances of breaches across all major industries. Truth be told, your current cybersecurity protocols are no longer enough to safeguard your business’ digital assets. Adding an extra layer of protection is vital to prevent successful attacks. 

What you need are SecureBrain’s tried-and-tested cybersecurity products. From real-time cybersecurity monitoring to in-depth breach analysis, we provide products that serve as a great addition to your cybersecurity toolkit. Learn more about our services and contact us today!