What’s the ratio of your marketing budget to cyber security budget?

Posted in: Business Insights

This was a question asked over Twitter by @DanBarker to TalkTalk, the major British telco after they managed to lose a significant portion of its customers’ details, apparently through an SQL Injection attack by a 15 year old.

The question wasn’t answered, but the sooner companies realise that a security incident can wipe out a significant part of the brand’s goodwill, the more this ratio will adjust.

Here are three top tips to ensure you’re investing wisely in cyber security, and protecting your brand’s good name:

1. Keep everything patched and up to date – old databases have security holes that can lead to an attack. A new client of ours was running SQL Server 2002 and failed a pen-test in 30 minutes. But it doesn’t need to be that old to fail.

2. Audit and document everything. What data is where? Who or what has access? Do they need it? Are they still with the company? Not knowing what data might be lost was the major problem at the NSA post-Snowden. And within hours of the TalkTalk hack, the CEO said “I don’t know today whether all four million customers’ details have been stolen” (it was about 150,000 in the end, but by then the brand damage was done).

3. Check how employees and third party suppliers access your production environment, to make sure it’s from a safe, virus-free place. Can you see what they see? Do you know what they’re looking at?

Overall, to use Pythian’s tagline, just learn to “love your data”.

If your in-house team doesn’t have the skills and expertise to take care of these tasks, then find a company or contractor that does. The cost will be far less than a major security incident. And probably lower than your marketing budget too.


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