What Is the Impact of a Cyberattack or Data Breach on Businesses?
- by Justice Levine
Cyberattacks are a serious risk for businesses, and 56% of Americans are unaware of what steps to take to prevent or in the event of a data breach. The goal of a cyberattack is to gain access to information systems and networks, devices, and infrastructures, by using one of several methods that are able to steal or destroy data.
Most companies take months to detect a data breach, effectively putting sensitive information at risk of being stolen during that time, such as financial information within your business, or your employee’s social security numbers. This article will discuss the potential consequences of cyberattacks, such as a data breach, as well as methods of prevention.
Types of Attacks Against Your Business
Every business, regardless of size or industry, must be aware of cybersecurity threats as cybercriminals are constantly altering their techniques. This means that now more than ever it’s more important to have a cybersecurity plan. The most common types of attacks businesses face include:
Malware, short for malicious software, is a cyber-attack that deploys unauthorized actions on the victim’s system. This can be executed by using ransomware, viruses, phishing, or other malevolent tactics and have three main types: trojan horse, virus, and worm.
Ransomware holds a company’s sensitive data for ransom, including passwords, financial details, files, databases, applications, and other valuable assets. The victim typically has 24-48 hours to pay the ransom, or the files will be lost or compromised information will be made public.
With a phishing attack, a cybercriminal attempts to compromise personal information such as credit card or bank info, social security number, and passwords, often occurring through suspicious emails or text messages.
There are several types of viruses programmed to harm your hardware. Computer viruses can damage programs, delete files, or slow down computer performance. Your device can get infected by sharing files, opening infected emails, visiting a malicious site, and downloading harmful applications.
Small businesses in particular face cyberattacks for several reasons, mainly because:
- SMBs are often unprepared for an attack due to mistakenly thinking they’re exempt from attacks.
- They are often easier to infiltrate because of outdated systems, a lack of security protocols or training.
- SMBs can be a gateway to larger organizations as larger companies are often harder to penetrate as they have sophisticated security defenses in place.
Cyber Attack Statistics
It became clear in 2022 that no organization is safe from a cyberattack or data breach, as a breach can happen to any organization, enterprise, or government at any time. Earlier this year, the Lapsus$ Group went on a crime spree when they successfully compromised source code from Microsoft Bing and Cortana. Nation-state threats and DDoS attacks continue to skyrocket throughout the Russo-Ukrainian War. Additionally, as of April 2022, there were over 700,000 cybersecurity job openings in the United States, making cybersecurity analysts one of the most in-demand jobs within the industry.
Healthcare organizations lost nearly $21 billion to ransomware attacks in 2020 alone. Roughly 3 out of 4 organizations have fallen victim to a ransomware attack, up 61% since 2020. 64% of affected companies paid the ransom, but nearly 40% weren’t able to recover their data.
Attacks against small to medium-sized businesses are becoming more frequent. According to a recent study, 43% of cyber attacks are aimed at small businesses, with only 14% prepared. A cyber attack can disrupt normal operations as well as cause damage to important IT assets and infrastructure that can’t be recovered without the budget or resources to do so. 45% of small businesses say that their processes are ineffective at mitigating attacks, 66% have experienced a cyber attack in the past year and 69% say that attacks are becoming more targeted.
Impact of An Attack
Businesses that store their customer’s data online are becoming increasingly vulnerable to attacks. Some of the most critical ways cybercrime can affect businesses today are as follows
Organizations looking to protect themselves from hackers have to pay a price to do so. Firms may face expenses such as cybersecurity technology and expertise, notifying affected parties of a breach, insurance premiums, and public relations support.
In addition to financial damages, businesses often face indirect costs from cyberattacks, such as a major operations interruption that can result in lost revenue.
It’s difficult to conclude on a definite number, however, companies that fall victim to larger cyberattacks may find their brand equity significantly damaged. Customers may feel less safe leaving their sensitive information with a company that has experienced broken IT infrastructure.
A cyberattack can result in a sudden drop in revenue, as customers move away from targeted companies to protect themselves from cybercrime. Companies may also lose money to hackers who try to extort their victims.
CommonSpirit Health Breach Demonstrates The Impact of A Cyberattack on Healthcare Organizations & Their Patients
In early October, CommonSpirit Health was the victim of a ransomware attack that they are still attempting to respond to and recover from today. For over two weeks, the nonprofit health system has not had full access to its own IT systems.
In the wake of this attack, 142 hospitals within 21 states were affected, as well as health record systems being locked, surgeries delayed, appointments canceled and prescriptions left unfilled, impacting untold numbers of patients. CommonSpirit also faces the loss of reputation as well as the possibility of being targeted in future attacks.
While CommonSpirit hasn't yet fully disclosed the source and method of the attack, cyber experts familiar with the matter say the complexity of their network is what prevented the damage from being even worse - smaller networks generally don't fare as well in such incidents.
As 92%+ of cyberattacks begin with a phishing email, cybersecurity experts recommend reinforcing their email cyber defenses to avoid a similar catastrophe. While it is still a great concern for the patients negatively affected by the attack, it's also a clear sign that more needs to be done to protect the data in the industry.
Preventing An Attack and Best Practices
In the digital era, cybersecurity could not be more important thanks to increasing threats to businesses. Having a robust security solution is absolutely essential, some tips to prevent attacks and safeguard your business include:
- Keep software up-to-date.
- Avoid opening suspicious emails.
- Use anti-virus and anti-malware.
- Use a VPN to privatize your connections.
- Check links before you click.
- Train your staff to be able to recognize attack attempts.
- Conduct an email security assessment.
- Back up important data.
- Implement proactive, multi-layered supplementary cloud email protection.
Why Email Security is Especially Important
Email is the preferred method of communication among businesses and the primary vector for distributing malware and phishing attacks. Attackers will target your email because of the exploitable vulnerabilities brought on by human error, as well as the information that tends to be shared. 92% of malware is delivered via email, and 91% of successful data breach result from spear-phishing campaigns, affecting 95% of all enterprise networks.
Email messages are vulnerable, and employees run the risk of being attacked by cybercriminals, making email security a necessity for every company’s cybersecurity infrastructure. Because of this, it is crucial that your company implement anti-phishing protection as part of an all-in-one, cloud-based security platform that is the most effective way to defend against emerging attacks.
Knowing where to begin when it comes to protecting your business from cyber-attacks can be challenging. The information can become overwhelming, especially because your staff need continued education on cybersecurity.
Looking for additional resources? Have a look at our Email Security Tips and subscribe to our newsletter as well for the latest email security tips, information, and insights.
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