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Cyber-security protects computers, mobile devices, electronic systems and networks, data, and information from malicious attacks and threats. It includes strategies and practices that safeguard against attacks from hackers, viruses, malware, spyware, and other unwanted intrusions that can damage the integrity of the information, cause a loss of productivity, or even compromise life-saving medical equipment.

Cyberattacks are increasingly sophisticated and targeted at a variety of different business sizes, industries, and government entities. Attackers can steal information for financial gain, extortion, or political/social motives (known as hacktivism). In the past two decades alone, more than 2,000 confirmed data breaches have occurred, with each incident costing an average of $3.9 million USD ($8.1M in the US).

Every organization that relies on computer systems for operational functions is vulnerable to attack. While the financial and healthcare sectors are more attractive targets to criminals for reasons such as their collection of sensitive data, attacks can happen anywhere, affecting any industry, whether it’s retail or manufacturing.

Addressing the cybersecurity problem begins with a strategy that is supported by leadership and shared with the entire organization. Then, a list of assets that need to be protected must be established. This should include not only applications and data, but also any compliance requirements that are applicable. Finally, the right technologies and practices must be implemented. Consider implementing firewalls and antivirus software, and using encryption for all data transfers. Backing up data regularly helps to provide redundancy, and encrypting information ensures confidentiality.