Cybersecurity & AI: a cost that generates savings

For organizations, the deployment of cybersecurity solutions represents a significant and yet essential cost. The challenge is to avoid cyber attacks (internal or external to the organization) and therefore their financial consequences (among others). However, this cost must be seen in the context of potential savings that can be realized when a cyber attack fails thanks to the cyber security solutions deployed by the target organization.

In their ninth annual study “The cost of Cybercrime”, Accenture Security and the Ponemon Institute focused on calculating the cost of cyber attacks to organizations as well as the savings realized through the deployment of certain cybersecurity technologies. Since the study was conducted with only 355 organizations worldwide, these figures should be seen in hindsight. However, thanks to this data, we have an idea of the sums involved, the trends but also the financial interest of cybersecurity.

Organizations are paying more and more for these attacks

The study helps us to get a better idea of the importance of cyber attacks, which are becoming more frequent year after year. It is probably also because they are better detected. On average, 145 security breaches were exploited within organizations in 2018 (+11% between 2017 and 2018), for an increasingly high annual overall cost, about USD 13 million (+12% between 2017 and 2018).

The banking sector pays the highest price, with an average annual cost of cyber attacks estimated at USD 18.37 million, followed by utilities (water, gas, electricity suppliers, etc. (USD 17.84M)) and software publishers (USD 16.04M). Organizations from the two most affected categories, the banking sector and utilities, often have the same role as the OVIs in France (Operators of Vital Importance). The OVIs are subject to certain regulations designed to strengthen the security of their information systems, which, according to these figures, seems to be extremely important.

Regarding cyber attacks, malwares are the most expensive of the wide range of cyber attacks recorded (on average USD 2.6 million per year). Ransomwares and attacks from inside the organization are the cyber attacks increasing the most, respectively by 21% (USD 0.6 million) and 15% (USD 1.6 million).

Which technologies can reduce these costs?

In response to these costs, the study highlights the savings generated by the implementation of different cybersecurity technologies (by subtracting the cost of implementing a technology from the savings generated by it), as well as the rate of adoption of these technologies in the organizations being surveyed. All but one of the nine technologies studied show a positive net saving, and for four of them, it exceeds USD 1 million:

  • Security intelligence and threat sharing, a technology adopted by 2/3 of the organizations surveyed and generating a net saving of USD 2.26 million.
  • Automation, AI and machine learning, adopted by 38% of the organizations surveyed and generating a net saving of USD 2.09 million.
  • Advanced identity and access management, implemented by 63% of the organizations surveyed and generating a net saving of USD 1.83 million.
  • Cyber and user behavior analytics, a technology adopted by less than one in three organizations and generating a net saving of USD 1.72 million.

Beyond the figures which are extrapolated and therefore approximate, it is clear here that despite their obvious interests, many organizations are still lagging behind in terms of implementing cybersecurity technologies, which nevertheless allow them to achieve substantial savings, particularly due to the difficult cost-benefit evaluation. While organizations have now clearly understood the need to invest in cybersecurity, the budgets allocated nevertheless require them to choose and prioritize some projects over others. The four technologies mentioned above are thus considered to be essential for any organization interested in improving IS security and reduce the costs associated with cyber attacks.

These technologies are integrated into various cybersecurity solutions, including Systancia products:

Systancia Cleanroom (formerly IPdiva Cleanroom), a PAM (Privileged Access Management) solution, providing administrators with a disposable sterile workstation, integrating continuous authenticationmechanisms based on Artificial Intelligence, allowing real-time analysis of the behavior of privileged users in order to guarantee the administrator’s identity and block the session if control is taken by a third person. By using rules and alerts defining the authorizations of privileged users, Systancia Cleanroom also allows to block, in real time, actions that may lead to a degradation of the IS.

Systancia Identity (formerly Avencis Hpliance), an IGA (Identity Governance and Administration) solution, providing effective identity management for the entire ecosystem of an organization and authorizations for all applications, including rights certification and rights separation (SoD) features.

Ultimately, even it is sometimes difficult for organizations to estimate the savings they achieve by implementing cybersecurity solutions, these savings are real and significant. Given the trends mentioned, with an increase in cyber attacks of more than 10%, both in volume and value (lost) for organizations in just one year, cybersecurity now appears to be a vital investment. Guillaume Pourpard, General Director of the ANSSI, summarized the situation quite well: “Yes, security is expensive, but it’s not much compared to the price you pay when you’re the victim of a cyber attack.”