With recent events seeing vast numbers of small businesses turning to online sales and remote working for the first time, we’ve seen a huge surge in cybercrime.
Criminals know that companies have had little time to roll out secure websites and remote working tools, so it’s become quite easy to attack many unprepared businesses. Data breaches, malware, ransomware, and online thefts are more rampant than ever, yet less than 1% of malicious cyber incidents result in any action made against the offender.
What is the cost of a Cyber Attack?
The true cost of cyber attacks to businesses will never be known, as many companies prefer to sweep the problem under the rug instead of taking the reputation hit from explaining to their customers that they weren’t adequately secured. IBM estimates that the average cost of a data breach to a company has risen to $4.24 million.
Cyber-attacks affect a business in many ways:
- Stolen IP –
A data breach can result in intellectual property being made widely available, losing your business most of its competitive advantage.
- Corporate secrets lost –
Customer lists, company accounts, employee salaries, and research can all be made public, crippling your company’s ability to compete in the marketplace.
- Regulatory fines –
Many states have CCPA and GDPR fines for businesses that lose customer data through a security breach. More egregious infringements can result in a fine of up to 4% of an organization’s annual revenue of $7,500 for every infringement made.
- Damaged reputation –
Perhaps an even biggest cost of cyber attacks is the loss of reputation the company experiences. If your company works with sensitive user information, public security breaches can severely damage reputation to the point the company can never recover.
- Website unavailable –
Sometimes, cyber-attacks simply attempt to take a company off the internet for some time. Without a secure setup that can withstand denial-of-service attacks, your website could go offline for days or weeks. This is damaging to both reputation and income.
- Downtime –
Similarly, there’s a cost to finding the source of security problems and patching them. Without good backups, you may also need to restore your files from a previous version, losing days or weeks of work.
What are the Most Common Cyber Attack Vectors?
Cybercrime doesn’t require sophisticated hacking if the company is willing to give out important details over the phone or by email. An example attack would be the attacker calling a low-level employee pretending to be part of the IT team and asking for their login credentials. Untrained employees often hand over these details, offering attackers a way into the system.
Malware covers all types of malicious software including trojans, ransomware, and spyware. Unsuspecting employees may click on links that install such programs on their computers. These programs allow remote actors access to the computer network, and from there they can escalate their attacks.
Ransomware has seen a massive surge in use since untraceable cryptocurrency became more mainstream. Ransomware is a type of malicious software that encrypts your files so they are unrecoverable unless you pay a ransom.
Like other forms of malware, ransomware typically gets onto company computers because employees install pirated software, click links in phishing emails, or accidentally install software from sites pretending to be another.
Network security vulnerabilities
The malicious actor can take a more direct approach to hacking by finding vulnerabilities in your company’s network infrastructure.
Any service you run on the internet can be potentially hacked if there’s an exploit. If your website is running on outdated software, it can be trivial for attackers to gain administrative access to it. Or, if you use remote collaboration software, vulnerabilities in this can give attackers a way to access employees’ machines.
Phishing is a common cyber-attack where malicious actors pretend to be someone else in the hopes of fooling people into handing over sensitive credentials.
A common attack is to send emails to thousands of people pretending to be from their bank. Upon clicking on the link, the person sees a website that looks identical to their usual bank’s website. They enter their details, and their banking username and password have been transmitted to the hacker.
Secure your Business from Cyber Attacks
The cost of a cyber-attack, should it happen to you, will be much higher than the cost of securing your company in the first place. Prevention, in this case, is significantly better than cure, so take every step necessary to ensure your business is safe from cybercriminals.