With so much of the world’s interactions, transactions, and information storage happening digitally, the way for a criminal to hit the big time is not to rob a bank—it’s to rob a database. In 2014, over a billion data records were stolen by cybercriminals, with over 1,500 breaches throughout the year—meaning that in a single year, data breaches increased by 49%. Verizon has released a report showing that 2015 has been no better, and that 2016 is looking just as uncertain for data holders.
With Big Data Solutions and the Internet of Things placing more and more value on data and digitizing, businesses are hard-pressed to keep up with the competition without turning to data as their main method of business. With such risk to their customers, clients, and patients—and the risk of losing millions of dollars with a breach—businesses are forced to change how they approach data, presenting both advantages and great disadvantages.
The Medical Industry
The medical industry holds a great deal of private and sensitive information on their patients, and unlike IT companies, many do not devote the necessary funds and personnel to safeguarding this information. By breaching their databases, hackers have all the information needed and more to steal identities, sell personal financial histories, and generally disrupt a patient’s life if sensitive medical information is leaked to the public. Medical data theft is becoming more prevalent, as several practices use poor data disposal methods or unsafe storage that a hacker can easily break into. To combat this issue and regain patient confidence, many practices are taking greater pains to safely store data, which limits its sharing ability and its easy access—keeping out hackers, but also slowing a medical professional’s ability to access the information in the case of an emergency.
The Financial Industry
The clearest and most dangerous form of cyber terrorism is centered around identity fraud, making it clear that the financial industry is at risk. For stock brokers and banks in general, high level security is already set in place for the storing of data, yet there are situations of employee neglect that leave it open to theft. A disgruntled employee leaking the information, an untrained professional leaving data improperly stored, and computer errors as a result of poor maintenance can lead to billions of dollars and countless lives hanging in the balance. This leads to many in the financial industry coming up with less flexible security measures and stricter access by employees, indeed keeping data safe but slowing innovation with a lack of remote access.
The IT Industry
While the IT industry holds less personal information than the medical or financial industries–with their focus being on creating programs, operating systems, mobile devices, and all the technology that makes this modern world go round—a person’s digital footprint is arguably just as valuable as their medical history. With a data breach unveiling passwords and easing access to personal servers, cyber criminals have better stepping stones for finding more sensitive information or wreaking havoc on a business’ databases—corrupting, stealing, or deleting valuable information needed for the running of a business. If the rise in data breaches increases, more funds must be used to keep data more secure, like in flash storage, which may reduce an IT company’s profits and slow time spent on new creations.
In 2014 alone, Home Depot lost over 109 million records and eBay over 145 million records. With customer data in danger, many lose confidence in a business’s ability to keep their credit card, order history, and other vital data safe. Rather than taking the risk, it’s easier for customer to choose another business with fewer breaches, costing these businesses valuable income. This means that greater measures must be taken to safeguard the data, slowing the transaction process and, in fact, regressing the speed and creativity modern shoppers have come to appreciate.
Cyber terrorism is a growing problem and has already cost businesses countless profits. However, in their effort to combat the problem, businesses are taking measures that slow productivity and innovation. Cyber criminals are doing more than stealing information—they’re handicapping progress.