Data breach forcing companies to hike service charge
Data breaches cost companies US$2.09m on average last year.

DATA breaches emanating from cyber attacks are costing companies more and their customers are being saddled with that cost in the form of higher prices for services, according to a report put out by Schneider Electrics, a Europe-based digital automation and energy management company which also has an arm in Jamaica.

Schneider Electrics, which presented the information as part of its sales pitch for its EcoStruxure system to be seen as the entity to help overcome the problem, said companies are becoming more and more vulnerable, especially as digitisation — including cloud storage of data — is accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Alerts for data breaches, it pointed out, increased 600 per cent during the pandemic.

Quoting figures presented recently by technology company IBM, Schneider Electrics pointed out that data breaches in 2022 cost companies across the world an average of US$2.09 million, up 15 per cent from 2021. Companies operating in the finance and health sectors were cited as being among the most vulnerable to cyber attacks.

In Jamaica alone, the estimated losses due to cybercrime exceed $12 million annually, according to figures from The Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA).

"These cyber attackers take advantage of system vulnerabilities and, in many cases, not only affect data centres or databases but also any system or equipment connected to an Internet connection network or cloud," said Miguel Duluc, central English Caribbean territory manager at Schneider Electric.

Duluc pointed out that cybercrime is constantly evolving and that attackers are attentive to the latest trends and technologies to hook the largest number of victims with attacks that often involve various actions, as they seek to make at least one of these actions successful. He added that perpetrators have gone from being basic and massive to more complex and selective, showing that cybercriminals are fine-tuning their tactics and procedures to be more efficient in achieving their goal.

"In the last two years companies across all industries have migrated a lot of their processes, equipment, machinery and maintenance controls to intelligent systems connected to the Internet of Things, to cloud networks, interconnecting and digitising. However, when making this migration, parameters and security systems must be taken into account to prevent an attacker from taking advantage of these multichannel platforms," Duluc continued.

His urging comes as the Latin American Outlook report showed that 60 per cent of the companies affected by data breaches and the higher cost it has placed on their operation, hiked the cost of their services to their customers to help offset the losses.

Other data reveal that the Latin American and Caribbean region suffered 137 billion attempted cyber attacks from January to June 2022, an increase compared to the same period last year. In addition to the extremely high numbers, the data reveal an increase in the use of more sophisticated and targeted strategies, such as ransomware. During the first six months of 2022 approximately 384,000 ransomware distribution attempts were detected worldwide. Of these, 52,000 were destined for Latin America.

In 2022, for the first time, a group called Conti managed to paralyse Costa Rica's financial sector, leading that country to declare a national emergency and with the crisis costing an estimated US$38 million per day. There were similar attacks on the health systems in France and Spain.

"It is important to bear in mind that the systems of, for example, a bank are not the same as those of a hospital in which the monitoring of equipment becomes lighter and therefore [presents] an opportunity for the attacker, who will not go after the equipment but rather after the software that controls it. By having access to a shared network it can enter through that software and reach databases or sensitive information, as well as control the operation of the equipment and even interrupt its operations," explained Duluc.

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