What professionals in MBA courses need to know about data breaches

February 01, 2018

Understand what happens after a breach

Picture of a hacker and a hand holding a security symbol
Breaches of data security are becoming ever more costly.

Several high-profile hacks during the past year have provided forceful reminders that the digital world is far from a safe place. Financial details, personal information, and all other kinds of sensitive data are at constant risk, even when proper security measures are taken.

While security is of course still worth striving for, it's also important that business professionals be aware that breaches of data are a strong possibility, and that they have an understanding of what happens after a breach.

Want to dig into data breaches and their consequences? Here is an overview to get you started.

Graduates of MBA courses should know data breaches are extremely common

Though we hear about the most catastrophic data breaches, there are many others that tend to slip by without as much notice. A 2016 UK government report found that 24 percent of all British businesses had experienced a data breach in the preceding 12 months, and that 65 percent of large businesses had. This demonstrates that no business should consider itself immune from the potential for a data breach. In addition, as a business increases in prominence, it becomes a more desirable target for those agents behind cyber attacks.

Whether their workplace is currently a top company or is on the rise, professionals in MBA courses would do well to start planning for cybersecurity measures that their businesses will need to be able to operate with a sense of security.

A good MBA program will ensure that graduates leave with a solid understanding of information technology and how to invest in systems appropriate to a business, but those eager for the best shot at keeping their data secure would do well to explore the matter outside of class, too.

Professors, guest lecturers, and even colleagues from within the program come from a variety of backgrounds, and may have experience with data security that could prove useful. Reaching out to these individuals could provide you with an extra level of expert insight into how to keep your data secure.

Data breaches can damage reputations & hurt business

One of the most important things to understand about data breaches is the profound negative effect they can have on client confidence. A report by Cisco found that 22 percent of companies that experienced a data breach lost customers, and 29 percent lost revenue after the event.

Though this might have been ameliorated with an effort to communicate with the clients – offering explanations, outlines of measures being taken to prevent another incident, apologies, etc. – the same report found that only 49 percent of affected businesses made a real effort to do so.

Recognizing that a breach of your data is a breach of the trust between you and your client is an essential part of damage control in this situation. For graduates of executive MBA courses, this is where your leadership training will be of particular value. Having the confidence to stand up, admit to error or failing, and work with clients may not be enough to retain your business's whole roster, but it could be enough for some, and that is important.

A man using a smartphone
Reaching out to clients after a data breach can be key to minimizing fallout.

MBA graduates should consider carefully how they invest in cybersecurity

With the rise in data breaches has also come a rise in investment by organizations into greater cybersecurity. Beyond that, and likely out of recognition of how difficult it is to truly secure data, cyber insurance spending has also swollen, with many more companies opting to purchase this protection to better cover their bases in the face of potential loss.

The matter of how much to invest in these types of protections is a difficult one, particularly for organizations that have not had to deal with cyberattacks themselves, and therefore may not see the need for a hefty outlay of money. Though all businesses should make some investment in securing their data, the precise amount will largely depend on the size and nature of the company.

A large company that deals with a great deal of credit card or health information will likely need greater investment, for example, than a marketing agency.  In all cases, however, this must be calculated with appropriate rigour by executives well versed in financial management and strategic decision-making. The data driven analytical skills developed in an MBA degree will be key to determining the correct and necessary level of cybersecurity investment you and your organization should make.

A woman working on a laptop
Data-driven analysis can help executives determine the approriate amount to invest in cybersecurity.

Do you want to learn the skills necessary for today's business landscape?

Contact WU Executive Academy to learn about our Global MBA program!

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