Why Is Cybersecurity Important?

Why Is Cybersecurity Important?

Person online shopping after using two-factor authentication for increased log-in security.

There was a time when cyberattacks only impacted large-scale agencies and corporations that relied on high-tech networks to keep operations afloat. Today, however, the average American uses digital tools for everything from banking and online shopping to maintaining social media profiles and even tracking their personal health.

The prevalence of web-based functions in daily life has paved the way for an onslaught of vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can take advantage of. As such, cybersecurity has become a critical component of our societal and economic well-being in the U.S. and beyond.

While it may seem like an obvious conclusion, the statistics supporting the need for high-functioning cybersecurity teams are nothing short of staggering. Join us as we dive into the details to answer the question, “Why is cybersecurity important?”

The true importance of cybersecurity

With so many day-to-day interactions taking place in digital environments, everyone runs a potential risk of falling victim to cybercrime. In fact, at least 47 percent of American adults have had their personal information exposed by cybercriminals.

Cybersecurity refers to the practice of protecting networks, devices, and data from unlawful access or criminal use. Organizations across industries are in need of skilled cybersecurity experts who can design, direct, and manage the implementation of secure systems.

As you seek to learn more about the importance of cybersecurity, consider the answers to the following questions about cybercrime in the U.S.

How do cyberattacks happen?

There was a time when the activity of cybercriminals seemed fairly easy to spot. But the methods being used to take advantage of vulnerabilities today are much more sophisticated.

While not an exhaustive list, the following are some common digital schemes individuals or organizations may fall victim to:

  • Phishing attacks are when cybercriminals craft emails that appear as if they’re coming from legitimate sources, such as banks, government agencies, commercial organizations, and other services, luring you to click a malicious link.
  • Imposter scams are when criminals impersonate a government official, family member, or friend with the intention of requesting money.
  • “You’ve won” scams are when an email or text message appears stating that you’ve won a prize, the lottery, or a sweepstakes; these communications often request that recipients pay a fee or tax to receive their winnings.
  • Healthcare scams are when cybercriminals request your Medicare or health insurance information, social security number, or financial details by impersonating officials who can offer sizable savings in health insurance costs.
  • Tech support scams are when someone claiming to be with a technology company contacts you to diagnose a computer problem you didn’t know you had or provide tech support you have not requested; these nonexistent problems are used to obtain remote access to your computer or banking information.
  • Ransomware is a type of malicious software (or malware) that prevents you from accessing your computer files/systems/networks and demands you pay a ransom for their return.
  • Identity theft is when someone uses your personal information to obtain money or credit.

How common are cyberattacks in the U.S.?

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) emphasizes that cybercriminals look to exploit gaps in information security networks of all kinds. That means cybersecurity should be a relevant concern for everyone from individual users to small businesses to large corporations to the U.S. government at large.

When it comes to the prevalence of cyberattacks, the statistics are unnerving. 2021 saw a record number of data compromises related to identity theft and cybercrime in the U.S., with a 68 percent increase from the prior year.

Consider the following cybercrime facts:

  • 47% of U.S. consumers experienced identity theft in 2021
  • 38% experienced a digital account takeover
  • 37% experienced application fraud
  • On average, ransomware attacks took place every 11 seconds in 2021

What is the economic impact of cyberattacks?

Cyberattacks are worrying because of the financial vulnerabilities they aim to exploit. And this doesn’t just impact individuals and businesses — it affects our entire economy.

According to the FBI’s 2021 Internet Crime Report, the organization has received 2.7 million complaints of cybercrime over the last five years, totaling $18.7 billion in losses. 2021 alone saw $6.9 billion in victim losses, with more than 2,300 individual complaints coming into the FBI each day. Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fielded more than 5.7 million reports in 2021.

The average data breach cost rose from $3.86 million in 2020 to $4.24 million in 2021. In fact, it’s been revealed that the hundreds of billions of dollars lost to cybercrime each year accounts for anywhere from one to four percent of the global GDP (gross domestic product).

What is the current state of the cybersecurity workforce?

The U.S. Department of State notes that vulnerabilities in technology and lack of sufficient attention to security continue to provide cybercriminals with low-risk/high-reward opportunities for illicit gain. As such, demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals is higher than ever.

Despite the desperate need, leaders in the industry report consistent challenges in finding qualified, well-rounded candidates, in terms of cybersecurity. A recent survey from the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) indicated that 71 percent of respondents report having unfilled cybersecurity positions as of 2023. Additionally, only 28 percent said that recent university graduates are well-prepared for the cybersecurity challenges their organization is facing.

Unfilled cybersecurity roles will only increase potential vulnerabilities, so organizations are eager to offer competitive opportunities to professionals who can meet their needs. Hiring managers who participated in the ISACA report shared that they are looking for candidates who possess the following:

  • Hands-on cybersecurity experience
  • Relevant credentials and certifications
  • Proficient soft skills, such as interpersonal communication
  • Previous employer recommendations
  • University degree

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