Cyber Risks Are Here and Now

The Internet provides an abundance of benefits in so many aspects of our lives. We have information at our fingertips. We are in touch with our family and friends in myriad new and different ways. We can make purchases from our computers and our phones, without the hassle of having to go to out to the store. And the list of benefits go on and on.

But that is not the end of our story. No, indeed. The Internet, unfortunately, also creates many risks and liabilities for us as well. Recent data suggest the following disturbing trends. 

The vast majority of emails are not legitimate; most are spam.

There has been a many-fold increase in malicious Web links.

The average unprotected computer can become infected with malware within a matter of minutes.

Many tens of thousands of Facebook accounts are compromised daily.

The average security breach is not detected for months, creating ample time for such a breach to wreak havoc.

The most commonly used computer password is “123456” — which leaves much to be desired when it comes to personal security.

The majority of Internet users at some point will become victims of cybercrime.

A majority of companies have suffered at least one cyberattack with the past year.

The healthcare industry has been experiencing an increase in security incidents.

Power and utility companies are seeing a dramatic rise in security incidents.

Most corporate security incidents are perpetrated by insiders — usually employees leaving to form their own competing companies or who intend to go work for an already existing competitor.

The average cost of a corporate data breach is more than $3 million, so we are talking about real money in this context.

Ever ubiquitous mobile devices (smart phones and tablets) are the weakest security link.

Social media comes next as the next weakest link, and with more than 1 billion Facebook users alone, this presents a challenge.

And to top it all off, the vast majority of information security professionals believe that cyberattacks represent a credible threat to national and economic security. Cyberwar thus is not confined only to science fiction movies and novels.

There is no going back. We are living in the online world. But while we can enjoy the many benefits of the Internet, companies, government and individuals must be proactive, prudent and careful to minimize risks and liabilities.

Eric Sinrod (@EricSinrod on Twitter) is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP, where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. You can read his professional biography here. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod’s columns, please email him at with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author’s law firm or its individual partners.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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