Big data breaches aren’t going away any time soon and the recent revelation that Russia’s criminal underworld is in possession of account data for 272.3 million people is a testament to that.

Initially announced by Reuters at the start of May but constantly referred to by other media outlets ever since, the news that millions of Mail.ru, Yahoo, Google and Microsoft users have had their data stolen is yet another black eye for the online industry.

The data breach was first discovered by Hold Security experts who noted a forum post by a Russian who claimed to have access to 1.17 billion stolen records. After securing some of the hacker’s files, Holden Security found that the number of compromised accounts might not be as high as 1.17 billion, but it’s certainly an extremely large number.

Major Attacks Impact Small Businesses

While the companies in question have been working to patch up their leaks ever since, the knock-on effect of this latest security breach is currently trickling down through the online world. Big data, in fact data of any kind, is a precious commodity for all organisations, so to fail to protect it is now seen as the death knell for any business.

Although small businesses may not be as big of a target for serious hackers in the same way that Google et al are, they can still be in danger. In fact, as recently as February 2016, reports suggested that small businesses are now under attack more than ever.

According to Toni Allen of the British Standards Institute, 2015 saw a shift in the online landscape with more small businesses becoming a target for hackers. In line with this assertion, a recent Government Security Breaches Survey confirmed that 74% of small organisations reported security breaches in 2015.

This shift in dynamics is hardly surprising given the amount of valuable data small companies are now storing but, in some cases, failing to secure properly. However, as security providers like Incapsula have pointed out, provisions such as web application firewalls (WAF) are getting cheaper.

Web Security is Now Smarter, Cheaper and More Cost Effective

As security technology starts to move away from hardware and towards cloud-based solutions, the cost of protecting a website is decreasing. However, many small businesses are still failing to recognise this shift in dynamics and, as a result, are leaving themselves exposed to attack.

Not only that, they are risking financial ruin, as PricewaterhouseCoopers has estimated that the average cost of a security breach for a small business is between £65,000 (€84,159) and £115,000 (€149,700).

Fortunately, a modern web application firewall (WAF) not only provides multiple layers of protection – including signature recognition, identifying and analysing potential threats, monitoring IP addresses and blocking malicious users – they are also flexible. By offering a cloud-based solution, security providers can now tailor packages to each specific business.

This flexibility, combined with the removal of hardware set-up costs and more efficient data protection, has made website security much more affordable for small businesses. Yet, as the latest figures shows, many companies are still failing to secure their data. From the largest companies in the world to the smallest start-ups, everyone now handles big data and it’s this commodity that criminals want.

Yes, it’s fair to say we live in a golden age of technology, but we also live in an age where security is a major issue. Fortunately, security costs are coming down thanks to web-based solutions, but this only matters if small businesses are savvy enough to use the services at their disposal.

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