When businesses' security defences are breached and data is exposed, there are a number of potential negative implications.
Firstly, firms may see their computers infected with viruses, malware or spyware, which affects the performance of their hardware and impacts on the productivity of the workforce.
But security breaches may also see data exposed - and potentially stolen - by malicious third-parties, which can cause significant problems where business continuity is concerned.
The loss of data may make it impossible to carry out certain processes, or lead to the company receiving a hefty fine from the Information Commissioner's Office.
And not only this, it can hit companies hard on the customer side through reputational damage.
If a business falls victim to an online attack which exposes data, the negative publicity can create negative perceptions of the organisation.
Customers may switch their allegiance to a rival firm as a result, leading to a loss of revenue in both the short and long-term.
Minimising the threat
As a result, it always pays for businesses to take all possible security precautions to ensure the integrity of their systems data.
Technology can play an important role - with the use of firewalls, anti-virus software and other network protections helping to identify threats and combat the risks.
But very often, security breaches occur as a result of human error - so it is important for people processes to be considered.
Training employees in IT security best practice can significantly reduce the risks of a breach.
It may not be possible to eliminate this threat altogether - particularly where the malicious acts of individuals are concerned - but firms can put layered defences in place to reduce their exposure.
The use of strong passwords and entry codes is important - this should help ensure outsiders are unable to access PCs and corporate-owned devices.
And where personal devices are being used - such as smartphones and tablets - encrypting data is worthwhile.
This means that should the device be lost or stolen, it should not be accessible to any third-party.
Remote wipe solutions also have a role to play where mobile technology is concerned - these allow data to be deleted remotely in the event a device containing sensitive information goes missing.
Reducing the risks
Hackers are constantly innovating in a bid to find new ways of getting hold of confidential data, such as bank details, consumer information and intellectual property.
This creates challenges for the IT security industry, which needs to keep pace with the criminals - or ideally stay one step ahead in order to protect businesses and consumers.
But a range of solutions exist to help firms protect their systems and data, with regular vendor upgrades available online to keep users up to date and as protected as possible.
By following IT security best practice and ensuring firewalls and anti-virus software are activated and up-to-date, risks can be minimised.
This allows companies to get on with their normal business, meeting the needs of customers and driving revenue.
Posted by Alex Boardman