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#6 Reasons for Entrepreneurs to Invest in Security Businesses carry classified information and a breach in a database could allow unauthorized people to access this data

By Nageswara K. Rao

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Growth in digital channels and transactions has exponentially increased chances of security threats over the last decade.

The recent security threats, WannaCry and Petya, quickly became major concerns for businesses globally. According to a recent report by Kaspersky, Petya affected over 2,000 organizations globally. Unlike WannaCry, which affected more systems but was later contained, Petya's movement through networks was restricted. However, Petya had no kill switch, indicating a well-funded and thought out development process.

Other threats like identity theft, bank frauds, phishing, malware, and Denial of Services (DoS) can disrupt work, steal information and reduce productivity across industries. They also damage the reputation of the companies responsible for protecting the customer data in their care.

Security is not a "nice-to-have' but a "must have' for all businesses. Entrepreneurs must proactively protect the interests of both the company and their customers.

Here are the top six reasons to invest in security now:

Confidential Data: Protect Sensitive Information

Businesses carry classified information of their customers, vendors and employees. A breach in a database or server could lead to unauthorizedpeople accessingthis information. For instance, in the healthcare industry, patient data can be misused in various ways. Illegally obtained medical records can be used to shame someone on social media or be used in a court trial to get a favourable judgment. This could lead to social stigma for individuals with chronic diseases, specific lifestyle choices, etc.

In the banking sector, theft of customers'financial datanot only opens individuals to identity theft and financial fraud, but if made public, the organization responsible for storing that data suffers reputation damage and loss of customer trust. With increasingly sophisticated attacks,organizations must assume they will eventually be breached and have in place measures to minimize harm by encrypting and segmenting data, and containing the ability of a malicious attack to spread.

Continued Business: A Healthy and Happy Family

Business continuity is the key to success. A disruption to the flow of operationsgives competitors an opportunity to easily profit off the situation. This can lead to unproductivity,significant business loss, and even if the recovery period is short-lived, it may impact stakeholder morale.

Credibility: For Your Next Venture

As security threats rise, cybersecurity is viewed as a top investment criteria by venture capitalists (VCs). Most funding decisions take into consideration the cybersecurity preparedness. The responsibility of prioritizing security in the scheme of things falls primarily on the CEO/founder. An entrepreneurmust either invest in an experienced/competent Chief Security Officer (CSO) or appoint a security partner who will provide their services and even counsel when required.

A clear focus on security is key to attracting investments from VCs for future ventures or even to raise funds for one's organization.

Minimize Costs: Cost of Downtime Vs. Cost of Implementation

According to Arecent research by Kaspersky Lab, 90 per centof businesses admit they have suffered a security incident,confirming that security implementation should be a top priority for businesses. The research also highlighted that the cost associated with recovering from a breach is close to US$500,000 for enterprises and $38,000 for SMBs. Furthermore, additional costs for each can reach up to $69,000 and $8,000, respectively.

Undoubtedly, proper security implementation can help companies save thousands of dollars. It is worth comparing the cost of a breach and downtime versus the cost of implementation.

Avoid Ground Zero Breaches: Social Engineering Attacks

Employees are the most important part ofa company. But they can also be the cause of breaches by way of phishing, pretexting, baiting, quid pro quo or tailgating – as well as purely accidental breaches.

It is crucial to train employees to recognize possible threats in their fields of work. Considering the fact that employees are connected to a company's main servers, they aresusceptible to creating a passage into a company's digital mainframe.

For that reason, educatingemployees to be aware of typical social engineering techniques is crucial. These attacks trick and manipulate people togive up confidential information such as passwords or bank information, or remote access to your computer to secretly install malicious software.

Build a Strong Customer Base: Customer trust builds business and retains clients

Customers put their faith in businesses so they expect these organizations to protect any personal data they have access to. The 2017 Unisys Security Index (global) found that cybersecurity threats are now perceived as more dangerous than terrorism. This results in a shift of consumer behavior as they now want to deal with organizations that they trust to secure their information and transactions.

Security is rapidly becoming a top priority for businesses globally as they lose $400 billion each year to hacking. Security is also a critical requirementfor the emerging start-ups in India as these companies are born in the cloud. The old saying "prevention is better than cure' is apt for cybersecurity and should be our first line of defense against cyberattacks.

Nageswara K. Rao

Vice-president, India Technology Center, Unisys

Nageswara Rao aka KNR is the vice president, India Technology Center, Unisys. He leads the research, development and support of products and solutions in the India Technology Center.

He is a technology leader with more than 28 years of experience in the IT industry and has worked with various large IT Product and Services companies, heading R&D centers in India including Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Unisys (USA), Tata Unisys and Indian Telephone Industries.

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