Latest posts by Alvin Bryan (see all)
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Online security is a seriously important consideration. Financial advisers and security experts say that this should be on the top of everyone’s to-do list for 2013. Many individuals do not see the need, and many small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) don’t have the means. Several solutions are available, and good security doesn’t have to cost too much. It is surely less than the cost of cybercrime.
Rising Cost of CybercrimeOnline crime is a serious problem. Attacks of all shapes and sizes are crippling businesses and wiping out consumer finances all over the world. The cost of cybercrime in the US alone is staggering. And the after-effects on the country’s economic infrastructure are a threat to its financial stability. The Better Business Bureau announced that the number of US businesses who have suffered from cyberattacks was $3.5 million in 2011. Last year, in just the state of Oregon, the cost of cybercrime was up to over $6 million.
In 2011, the global cost of cybercrime was $338 billion. Adding in the costs of related intellectual property and identity theft, the number is over $1 trillion. And the big fish are still not off the hook. Companies like LinkedIn, eHarmony, Facebook, Zappos, Yahoo and more have fought their share of intrusions. The US Cyber Command fends off around 250,000 attacks every hour.
Responsibility for the Cost of Cybercrime Defense
With this burden, the government cannot be expected to watch over all businesses and consumers as well. The President met with some of the biggest names in business earlier this year. They pushed for the government to take a portion of the financial responsibility for securing businesses. The real burden, however, must remain with the businesses. It ended in a stand-off, with each side pointing the finger and no change in security regulations. Amendments to business security regulatory policies is much needed. This is most importantly to secure consumer data. Sadly, it seems no one is willing to take the necessary steps. One major cost of cybercrime, it seems, is indifference.
Cybercrime’s New Targets
Government agencies and banks were the targets then, but now hackers are singling out individual Internet users and small businesses. SMEs don’t have the security infrastructure to deal with sophisticated attacks. And neither does the common web surfer, so getting into a financial account from the user’s end is easier. Identity theft remains to be very profitable as well. Both individuals and businesses potentially hold a treasure trove of contacts that they can exploit. Hackers know that they hold valuable data that can amount to bigger profits though it comes in smaller amounts. The potential cost of cybercrime to individual consumers and SMEs is estimated to reach tens of billions of dollars this year.
Security firm Symantec reported that small companies with 250 employees or less are attractive hacker targets. The percentage of small businesses hit so far this year has more than doubled since 2011. Going over the statistics on the cost of cybercrime from 2012, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority stressed in January that online security be made a top priority for business conduct and sales practices.
A Simple Solution to Fending off Sophisticated Attacks
Online scams are getting very sophisticated as fraudsters become smarter. Fraudulent emails to companies contain consumer details like financial account numbers and usernames. At times the hackers are able to directly access accounts. They fool businesses into updating contact information to their fake addresses, allowing the hackers to have sensitive data like passwords and replacement credit and debit cards sent to them.
We live in a highly virtualized world where people hardly ever transact in person. Online purchases, online bank account transfers, online bills payment, and much more have become the norm. For both individuals and businesses, this means securing their communications and online activities. A very reasonable solution for them is a VPN service.VPN providers charge minimal monthly fees for Internet security solutions that can work very well for consumers and SMEs. A VPN created a private tunnel and encrypts the data sent back and forth between the two parties. This ensures that all traffic going to and from the VPN server remains open to only those authorized to view it.
The cost of cybercrime does not need to be high. A simple yet effective solution is available to everyone. Consumers and businesses simply need to take that step to secure their data. A VPN setup is a mutually beneficial and affordable arrangement that can cut the cost of cybercrime significantly.