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Cyber security efforts turn proactive after sophisticated attacks

According to Financial Times, in one month alone, Cathay Pacific revealed it had suffered a data leak affecting 9.4m customers, British Airways said 185,000 more people were affected by a cyber attack than previously thought, Yahoo agreed to pay $50m in damages for the biggest data theft so far, and Facebook announced hackers had gained access to sensitive information of 14m users. Huge losses of personal data are by now a familiar story, even if the causes have changed. More than a decade ago, the UK government came under fire for losing 25m personal records after two discs were lost in the post. Then, advice from information security professionals focused on the importance of encrypting data and avoiding backing up systems to physical data tapes that could easily be misplaced. For many organisations, getting to grips with cyber threats means they need to simplify their operations: decommissioning old IT systems, controlling the number of connections to the internet, and thinking about whether expansion to a new territory or product area could expose them to too much risk. While technological solutions are being developed, one of the main vulnerabilities is still the same as in the era of lost laptops and floppy discs, say advisers. Often the cause of a breach is employees not following internal policies or best practice: failing to change passwords, clicking on phishing links, or smuggling out valuable IP for financial gain.

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