We live in the age of rapid digital transformation with futuristic and cutting-edge technologies enabling us to do a wide range of things faster and easier. For instance – a growing segment of the population finds even the idea of visiting a bank passé with the emergence of mobile and internet banking and the seamlessness it provides. For every milestone in technological development and cybersecurity, attackers and crime syndicates are innovating newer, more sophisticated and complicated counterapproaches by leveraging these very same futuristic technologies. Accordingly, cybercrime is emerging today as the fastest growing and most popular form of criminal activity.
In the article, let us take a deep dive and understand the impact of cyberattacks on your business and ways to prevent it.
Cyber-attacks cause outages. Your employees could be locked out of their systems, unable to access critical business data. And the size of the outage and productivity loss will vary depending upon the nature and scope of the attack – from minor disruptions to business processes grinding to a halt. For instance, the recent cyber-attack on Georgia caused two of its national TV channels, TV Imedi and TV Maestro, to go off-air for several hours.
Additionally, your IT team’s regular work comes to a halt as they must focus on cleanup, determining the root causes of the attack and fix the vulnerabilities.
Data is the new oil and attackers are finding new ways to gain access to confidential customer data and critical business information such as patents, business secrets, employee records, etc. A successful cyber-attack could lock you out of your company’s critical databases and attackers’ may demand a hefty ransom to restore your access. Or, a malware introduced through the attack may alter, erase or overwrite over your database, costing you extensive time, money and other resources in recovery.
Cyber-attacks cause a severe loss of customer trust, brand loyalty, shareholder trust, and overall reputation. Most customers and shareholders may not want to be associated with your business anymore owing to either the losses they have directly faced from the attack or the potential losses they could face if they continue to associate with your brand.
Successful data breaches may also lead to confidential customer data being used for fraudulent financial activities, identity theft or sold in the black market and so on, causing a reputational loss to your business. The Yahoo breach and the Marriott breach exposed over 500 million customer records and dented their businesses in a big way.
Apart from the loss of customers and reputational losses, cyber-attacks involve hefty financial losses. Losses could permeate from the ransom payments, fraudulent money transfers (from customer or business accounts), drop in sales, falling investor trust, critical/ confidential information theft (such as patents, business secrets, ingoing R&D), productivity losses, decreasing company valuation, less favorable financial forecasts, etc.
There are also costs involved in incidence response, recovery and repairs, post-incidence investigation, vulnerability analysis, and escalation.
Lastly, cyberattacks bring extensive legal liability with them as they may lead to big fines for non-compliance, civil lawsuits, etc. The cost of successful attacks is placed at around USD 3 million currently.
Cybercrime is a harsh reality that is costing fortunes for businesses of all kinds and across all domains, global tech giants like Facebook included. These big players have the infrastructure, engineering capacity, and resources to recover from cyberattacks, but small and medium players may not be able to recover from such cyberattacks and may have to shut down. Data suggests that over 60% of small businesses shut down within 6 months of a successful cyber-attack.
One of the biggest misconceptions, especially among small and medium businesses, is that they are too small or insignificant to be attacked. However, data suggests that nearly 50% of attacks in the US are aimed at small businesses owing to their lack of robust security measures. Only those businesses that are well-prepared and well-equipped are the ones that are able to mitigate such attacks or at least minimize the impact of successful attacks.
Remember that cybersecurity is an ongoing process and to keep your business secure from cyberattacks you must continuously build a strong defense.
Ashish Pradhan is responsible for all technology functions like engineering, client services and customer support at Indusface. Prior to joining Indusface, Ashish held various senior leadership roles at Symantec Corporation in India and USA. During his 25 years of global experience in the software industry, Ashish has helped create and grow a broad variety of software products spanning systems management, IT compliance, and information security domains.