Imagine you are preparing for a long trip in the car. You make sure you have a spare tire, plenty of water, that your oil is changed and windshield wiper fluid is full, and even carry road flares in case of emergency. You pack up and head off, only to run out of gas miles from anywhere. This scenario is all-too familiar and, unfortunately, underscores the fact that it’s often the problems we don’t anticipate that pop up and derail our plans.
We’re frequently seeing a similar situation happen to businesses today, as highlighted by the findings of the 2013 Cost of a Data Breach Study published by the Ponemon Institute and Symantec. With data breaches seemingly on everyone’s mind lately, organizations have been busy shoring up their defenses against outside attacks from cybercriminals and hactivists. But as the report points out, nearly two-thirds of all data breaches come from within and are often caused by simple employee mistakes and system glitches. These aren’t just minor errors with minimal impact—in fact, at $159 per compromised record in the United States ($117 globally), the mistakes made by trusted employees are costing organizations quite a bit of money.
There are a lot of factors for companies to consider when assessing their risk for data breaches. Some industries are heavily regulated, such as health care and finance, and their costs are higher as a result. In addition, data protection laws vary by country—companies in the United States, for example, had the highest data breach costs over the last year, $5.4 million, compared to others such as India, where costs averaged only $1.1 million.
With a variety of factors contributing to the situation, companies need help mitigating the risk of breach as well as support dealing with data breaches when they do occur. That’s where the partner community really has a chance to show its value as a go-to resource. According to the report, one of the most effective ways to reduce the cost of data breaches is to create an incident response plan. Because SMBs in particular rely on their channel partners to help develop their IT strategy and make the best technology decisions, I feel there is a tremendous opportunity here for channel partners to work with their customers to find the solutions that will reduce the risk of a breach and allow them to maintain their security posture.
Symantec provides our partners with the products, services and training to help their customers address information security needs. This begins with the development of best-in-breed information protection solutions that keep the customer’s end goal—implementing a comprehensive and successful security strategy—at the center of our efforts. Our focus then extends to simplifying the customer management process for our partners, through innovative developments such as the Partner Management Console. The PMC allows partners to grow their business and increase their customer base while keeping overhead at a minimum. In addition, our Specialization program provides our partners with the knowledge and training to differentiate themselves from the competition by demonstrating a level of excellence within a specific technology focus area. These, combined with financial incentives and other benefits, give partners the tools they need to be successful and maintain profitability.
We invite the partner community to share the 2013 Cost of a Data Breach Report with their customers and allow it to serve as a crucial discussion point, highlighting the necessity for businesses to protect themselves not only from external threats, but also from internal errors that can end up costing them time, money and resources. Think of it as giving your customers the extra ‘gas can’ they need to avoid being sidelined by problems they did not plan for or anticipate. The full report can be downloaded here.
John Eldh is vice president, channel sales, Americas, Symantec Corp. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of The VAR Guy's annual platinum sponsorship.