Cyberattacks in Data Science Projects: Consequences and Prevention

Contributed by: Ken Lynch, Reciprocity Labs. Reciprocity Labs aims to help companies with goals that are good for society, such as improving customer privacy or our environment.

In this digital era, data has become one of the most vital components of an enterprise. While the rise of big data gives way to incredible opportunities for enterprises, the risk of sensitive data exposure unavoidably arises because of the ever-growing data volumes within corporate systems. In big data environments, motivations behind cyber attacks on stealing sensitive enterprise data are significantly increased with more recognition and bigger payoffs from a single attack.

As data science projects usually handle mission-critical enterprise data, any unauthorized access may result to serious information security and data privacy violations.

Worst Case Scenarios: What Can Happen After a Breach?

1. Financial loss

The majority of cyber attacks involving sensitive data exposure revolve around money. It’s projected that cybercrime damages will cost the world approximately $6 billion by 2021. Moreover, businesses and organizations can end up suffering damaging downtime. Reports show that unplanned outage can cost a business thousands of dollars per minute on average.

2. Physical data loss

Sensitive information about the employees is just as valuable as customers’ information. In case of a data breach, there’s an increased risk of loss of sensitive data for both employees and the customers. Reports show that many businesses involved in a major incident in most cases do not reopen, and if they do, they fail within 3 years of an incident happening.

3. Risk of fines

There are regulations and directives that outline how organizations and companies should comply with data protection. Following these laws and regulations is critical to help successfully steer clear of cyber attacks. If proper measures are not put in place and security data exposure occurs, then enterprises can lose millions of dollars in fines.

4. Increased risk to trade secrets

When the topics of cybercrime and sensitive data exposure come up, most people picture personal identity theft and huge financial loss. However, those who are familiar with espionage know quite well that intellectual property is another thing that is under great threat. Many businesses can attest to have experienced a breach that has exposed their trade secrets, resulting in significant material loss.

5. Significant reputation damage

When customers’ sensitive data is exposed, a company’s reputation is hurt badly and it becomes hard for the enterprise to regain the trust of both existing and new customers. Reports show that most downtowns for businesses and organizations are often caused by preventable cyber attacks and data breaches. Most CEOs admit that rebuilding commercial trust after a data breach resulting to sensitive data exposure is one of the hardest tasks to achieve for any company.

How to Prevent Sensitive Data Exposure

The following are some ways in which sensitive data exposure vulnerability can be mitigated:

  • Key based encryption: Only authorized users can access sensitive data upon providing the corresponding decryption key in order to gain access to encrypted sensitive data.
  • 2-factor authentication technique: To minimize the risk of potential data breaches, enterprises should enforce HTTPS sessions and use advanced transport layer security protocol.
  • Strong password hashing: When dealing with sensitive data, enterprises should opt for password hashing algorithms that support cryptographic hashing function.
  • Instigate a disaster recovery plan: Every data science project must have a disaster recovery plan in place that allows for the retrieval of lost data in case of a breach.

A data breach is the intentional or unintentional exposure of sensitive information to unauthorized parties. While there’s no “silver bullet” that guarantees the security of an enterprise from cybercrime, coming up with adequate security measures is important for continuity and stability.

Author Bio

This issue’s feature article is provided by Reciprocity Labs. Reciprocity Labs aims to help companies with goals that are good for society, such as improving customer privacy or our environment. Their mission: To turn corporate compliance from a cost center into a valuable strategic asset.

Ken Lynch is an enterprise software startup veteran, who has always been fascinated about what drives workers to work and how to make work more engaging. He has propelled Reciprocity’s success with this mission-based goal of engaging employees with the governance, risk, and compliance goals of their company in order to create more socially minded corporate citizens.