Ben Weiner, CEO, Conjungo

According to Symantec, the cost of data breaches to UK firms has risen 68 per cent in the last five years to £79 per affected record.

The report analysed the data breach costs incurred by 36 UK companies across 11 different industries and the rise is the fifth year in a row that the per-record cost of lost or stolen data has increased, up by £8 from 2010.

Symantec suggest that negligence remains the primary cause of such data loss, with 36 per cent caused by mistakes by employees or contractors.

Cyber attacks from hackers were also emphasised as a key factor contributing to cost increases, with Symantec reporting a two per cent increase in the number of attacks targeting organisations.

"Criminal attacks are mainly electronic agents caused by a malicious insider or hacker," Mike Jones, senior product marketing manager at Symantec told V3."Accordingly, organisations need to focus on processes, policies and technologies that address threats from the malicious insider or hacker."
(source: www.v3.co.uk - Data breaches costing firms £79 per affected record)

Furthermore, while the cost of breaches has gone up, the actual direct organisational costs to businesses had decreased from £1.9m in 2010 to £1.75m in 2011.

As you may be aware, Conjungo is about helping people and organisations find appropriate technology and to understand what technology is and does. As part of this service I thought I would offer some advice.

One of the most common errors people seem to make is to not encrypt the data stored on their memory stick. In fact there seems to be no end to the stories of Government officials losing their memory sticks, all of course hold huge amounts of information that is ‘classified’.

I’ve mentioned before that technology gets smaller and that makes it more mobile and that makes it easier to lose. I am sure that James Bond never had this problem way back in the 60s simply because to have a couple of gigabytes worth of information would have cost millions of dollars and a huge data centre which wouldn’t have fitted into 007’s immaculately presented suit pocket.

While memory sticks are useful, people forget that they can be used to illicitly back-up data and introduce viruses just by the simple act of plugging them into a number of different PCs. It is akin to computer promiscuity.

Because of the size of these devices it is no wonder that they are lost so easily. So here’s the advice. It’s common sense really; if you stick someone’s memory stick onto your PC, scan it for viruses first. If you use a memory stick then password protect it and furthermore encrypt the information so if is lost, at least the information is unreadable.

Finally, attach it to an object that is bigger and easier to find such as your house keys which most people will keep with them at all times.

Of course you could now lose your house keys and your memory stick but at least you minimise that risk, but no doubt some will complain that it is better to lose one important item than two.

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