Believe it or not, the value of information is something that is constantly underrated and under appreciated. Now, i’m not sure if you noticed, but there has been a noticeable increase in data breaches over the past 6 years. Sarcasm aside, we all remember the Anthems and Ashley Madisons of the world – big high profile companies that house an enormous amount of personal data that have succumbed to the vile treachery of the hacking world, and all because of one thing: the value of information.
It seems that the technological world takes a primarily reactive approach to cyber security, and continuously scrambles to recover from the fallout of data breaches, rather than being proactive and working to prevent them. Sadly, if we continue to follow this “security tactic”, then we will continue to be victimized by cyber attacks and their perpetrators.
The Value of Information
Now, many may believe that only high profile companies are the optimal target due to national and/or worldwide exposure, but the truth is, if you store data of any sort, you are a potential target. Many organizations have buried their heads in the sand and fallen victim to the peekaboo dilemma. This mentality of “it hasn’t happen to me, so it must not be a threat” is an ill-conceived notion, and it seems as though more corporations and SMBs are basking in this glow of ignorant bliss.
This is a dangerous state of mind for any size business as we move – full steam ahead – into the Information Age. Sensitive data is the new natural resource and hackers are trying to get their hands on it by any means possible – oftentimes succeeding. Everyone has information stored within their systems that is worth stealing, whether they think so or not. The old saying, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure has never been more true, and the right type of data can be quite damaging in the wrong hands.
The bad press due to a data breach – whether from being the victim or the guilty party who gets caught – is only one side of the coin. Potentially costly lawsuits will come down like the fury of the old gods, costing organizations of any size millions or even billions of dollars in legal fees and compensation. That’s not even mentioning the resulting infamy and loss of reputation that occurs when the data breach becomes public knowledge – that type of fallout can be devastating for larger businesses, and life-ending for SMBs. The value of information goes both ways, after all.
Now, I bet if you were to ask someone to describe their idea of hacker, you would probably hear the description of a shifty individual, skulking in the shadows while clad in a hat and trench coat.
You know, the standard image.
The fact of the matter is, hackers can take any form. For Example, take this NH Small Business – one individual hacked into the database of a local competitor and attempted to poach their best clients. The individual at fault here wasn’t an expert hacker, he simply knew the value of information, and he managed to break into the competitor’s systems and steal information that was able to be used to turn a profit while simultaneously edging out the competition.
This particular data breach was halted before any real damage was done, but the potential loss of their primary revenue stream – their valued customers – could have spelled the end of this family owned MA small business.
Cases like this are perfect examples that no one is safe, no matter the size of the company. This poor unsuspecting SMB was a victim of peekaboo thinking – that they were under the radar, so they didn’t have to take the necessary security cautions to protect their data. After all – what could someone want with a the information of a small, local business? Nothing, right?
The fact of the matter is, they were dead wrong and it could have cost them their livelihood – all because of a misunderstanding of the true value of information.
A Minor PSA
Think of this as a public service announcement to all of the companies out there that are responsible for any data, no matter how trivial it seems: Thinking that you are in the clear does not make it so! Only when organizations understand the value of information and take the necessary precautions to protect their data will we see a decrease in security breaches both large and small.
It is the civic and corporate duty of every business and organization to ensure that they are taking a proactive approach to security, as it’s not only their organization that takes the hit. The value of information is far-reaching and impacts everyone from the CEO of the largest corporation in the world, to the customers who buy various products throughout the day – misunderstanding the true value of that information is something that we can no longer afford.