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No Matter the Industry, Top Executives Must Do a Better Job Prioritizing Cybersecurity

news At the start of 2017, many companies across a wide range of industries are looking to digitally transform their business—with good reason. As technology improves, the opportunities for companies to advance countless aspects of their business are seemingly endless. From cloud computing and data storage, to amazing new ways to improve inventory tracking and management, to opening up talent recruitment and hiring due to improved remote work options, it’s pretty cool to be a thriving business in the digital age.

Unfortunately, every rose has its thorn. Just because improved technology is available to businesses doesn’t mean there aren’t major drawbacks to using it. Namely, cybersecurity weak points continue to crop up with every new tech innovation that’s put to use. According to the Breach Level Index, there have been 5,911,205,892 data breaches since 2013, and only 4% of those breaches were “secure breaches”—meaning data stolen by hackers was rendered useless due to data encryption. That means that 96% of data breaches are legitimate issues that negatively impact businesses and individuals, as vital information is stolen. What’s more, a recent study has shown that the average total cost of a data breach is right around $4 million—ouch.

Given These Sobering Stats, Why Are Data Breaches Still on the Rise?

The answer can often be found by looking at top-level executives. The push for digitalization that is happening in business today is getting more intense, and execs are feeling the pressure. While intentions are always good, diving head-first into a new digital transformation or software project rollout, without reinventing their cybersecurity strategy first, is leaving businesses vulnerable.

To better protect themselves, companies need to change the conversation to place a new focus on cybersecurity, and that shift needs to come from executive leaders. So, where’s the disconnect?

The problem is partly a lack of information. The latest cybersecurity best practices improve all the time, and so do the abilities of hackers to find weak points in a business’s security system. As a busy top-level executive, it’s tough to stay up to date. Another aspect of the problem is that cybersecurity and tech developments in a company used to be projects that were passed off to the IT department, and the assumptions were made that everything was just “being handled.” This isn’t an effective model anymore for a lot of reasons, but mainly because technology is the great equalizer.

Technology innovations are no longer “an IT thing,” and neither is cybersecurity. The tech focus has united departments in a company with everyone working towards the greater goal of growing their digital innovation. And while cybersecurity initiatives feel like they’re stopping the forward momentum of digital projects, having company leaders push their importance now will hugely benefit businesses in the long run—both by avoiding a financial hit and reducing risk.

Leaders in the Healthcare Industry Have Already Figured This Out

The healthcare industry has not been immune to the cybersecurity dilemmas faced when new technology is put into regular use. In fact, 31% of major HIPAA data breaches were a direct result of sophisticated attacks, which is a 300% increase since 2013. Industry leaders are taking action.

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) is focusing on an education-oriented approach. By helping hospitals and healthcare providers understand what threats are out there, and the security strategies that they can implement against those threats to lower their risk, HIMSS is hoping to empower healthcare companies to take action and invest in their security plan. And the results are showing – 85% of healthcare providers have said that, in the last year, cybersecurity has increased as a priority.

Their focus is on making cybersecurity an unintimidating concept for healthcare providers. Only positive things can come from this push for cybersecurity education, and more business executives and leaders from other industries should take note. Education is a powerful tool; taking the fear-factor away from the risk of cyberattack and pushing for innovative cybersecurity plans to match new technology use is the only way to protect businesses against attack.

The more secure a business is, the faster it will be able to continue on the path of technology innovation and growth. And while businesses will never be 100% secure, regardless of their industry, it’s time for executives and thought leaders to take charge of cyber initiatives within their organizations. Changes in corporate culture always do best when they come from the top, and a focus on cybersecurity is a change businesses should look to make.

SOURCE: Paste Magazine

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