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Cyber attack costs reinforce the need for investing in IT talent

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Bosses are beginning to realise that they are exposed to the risk of mass data theft and the associated reputational damages. Businesses need to create strong infrastructures to tackle this ever increasing threat. Hackers are exploiting company data and so boardrooms need to consider cyber security strategies and question if the business is properly equipped to respond. 

TalkTalk is a prime example of the financial cost of a cyber-attack. The company is now predicting that it will lose between £75m and £80m, more than double the £30m to £35m last predicted in November. The cost of the attacks can exponentially grow, not just as a direct result of stolen data and downtime, but for the brand image moving forward.

The Ashley Madison scandal was another incident where hackers stole users’ data and released information to the public. The leak resulted in personal ramifications for individuals who were under the impression that their personal activity online would be kept private. Firms need to acknowledge that any data being held is subject to being hacked. Anything and everything within the online sphere is up for grabs and so the necessary precautions need to be put in place.

Hackers are able to gain unauthorised access to a network undetected, which is known as an advanced persistent threat (APT). Threats are constantly evolving and changing and so trained professionals are key to providing a suitable defence to battle against hackers. Firms need to invest in people with the expertise to keep cyber security defences constantly updated rather than relying on rapidly obsolete IT systems. 

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Having the correct software in place is important, however due to the constant developing threat of cyber criminals, it is the trained and experienced professionals that can make the biggest difference. When crisis hits, the first few moments following the attack are key, with the correct personnel, the damage can be minimised. Companies should explore ways in which to retrain and up-skill workers. A hybrid workforce solution strategy is vital to ensure that you get the expertise required, as it is often difficult to secure and maintain resources.

Companies which are targeted by hackers suffer reputation damage in addition to rising clean-up cost which provides a compelling business case for implementing sophisticated cyber-security measures. Conversations need to be taking place at board level, to ensure that IT infrastructures are robust and ready to withstand attacks. Infrastructure relies upon the expertise of a strong IT department, made up of skilled professionals who can ensure best practice is upheld across all business operations.

Board members need to ensure the necessary systems are put in place to make sure businesses are prepared for modern criminality. It is often seen as an unattractive way to spend money, however cyber security is just as important as paying your bills to ensure that your business can grow and develop.

Businesses may be averse to the expense of building IT strong infrastructure, but firms who fail to prepare risk facing the prohibitive costs of a hack, an outlay which they cannot plan for. TalkTalk’s rising bill highlights just how unexpected the real price of a cyber-attack can be. Investing proactively to build digital talent is a wise decision in the current business climate.

Farida Gibbs is the founder and CEO of Gibbs S3.

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