Leading Institutions & Businesses Vulnerable to Cyber-Attacks

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Can your business afford to be hacked?

When it comes to protecting a business from cyber threats, experts will tell you it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” an attack will occur. The questions C-suite executives need to ask is how big it will be, how they will react, and what they can do right now to mitigate damages before they happen.

Take the Target hack, for example. The, $73.8 billion, retailer suffered a massive cyber-attack in late 2013 in which more than 40 million customers had their credit card information stolen, despite the company having installed a $1.6 million malware detection tool. The breach cost Target approximately $148 million just for the initial response to the breach, as well as costing card-issuing financial institutions more than $200 million.

While that figure might only be a sliver of Target’s sales in 2015, the timing of the breach—the height of the holiday season—could not have been worse. Without question, the fallout certainly had an impact on Target’s brand. According to an article at CSOonline.com, “Target’s sales fell by 46 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2013 to $520 million (or 81 cents a share).”

Certainly, smaller businesses or organizations may not be able to sustain such a sizable blow to its revenue, much less its reputation.

Retailers, of course, are not the only type of organization susceptible to cyber-attacks. Just this year, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced that it had been the victim of a hack in which nearly 20,000 emails and more than 8,000 attachments were hacked and subsequently published on WikiLeaks.

With potential ties to Russia, the attack was perpetrated by a hacker calling himself Guccifer 2.0. The following leak resulted in a major political fallout among the DNC’s top officers, four of whom were forced to resign.

Beyond that, and certainly more damaging financially, the stolen information also contained donor data, including Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and other personal information. These donors, of course, weren’t just ordinary citizens, but part of the wealthy “donor class,” making the hack (and leak) full of prized information that could result in potentially millions of dollars in damages in fraudulent charges and identity theft.

If these stories seem scary, well, they should be. Cybersecurity must be a priority for organizations from top to bottom. That’s why it’s essential for C-level executives to lead their organizations in ensuring that their data is safe, from both technical and nontechnical standpoints, and that plans are in place in the event of an attack. Additionally, companies should place a high priority on training staff at all levels to be aware of and on the lookout for potential attacks.

Doing anything other than that would be negligent. 

Why Maryland Cybersecurity?

Here in Maryland, we are fortunate to be located in the epicenter of the cybersecurity industry.  As the birthplace of cybersecurity, with many of the nation’s premier cybersecurity assets and resources, companies seeking cybersecurity solutions will find a concentrated level of expertise and resources, unmatched by other regions around the world. Together, these assets and resources have produced the following within Maryland:

  • Leading cybersecurity innovations
  • Some of the most intelligent and skilled cybersecurity professionals in the industry
  • A Wide array of outstanding cybersecurity product and service companies—many of which have received local, national and global acclaim

For a full list of the many Maryland-based companies, services, and training opportunities that can help you mitigate your cybersecurity risk, visit https://www.mdcyber.com/listings/.

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