As our reliance on technology and connectivity grows, so does our vulnerability to cyberattacks. Unlike the viruses of a few years ago that would shut down a system for a few hours, today’s consequences of cyber attacks can include stolen data, destroyed networks, and thousands or even millions of dollars in recovery efforts. 

To better understand what kind of threats your business may be facing as well as the need for increased security, our Network Security Team is looking at the short and long-term consequences of cyberattacks across verticals, including businesses, government, and society. 

While the severity of cybercrime is concerning, what’s even more troubling is its rapid increase. 

According to Accenture’s “State of Cybersecurity Resilience 2021” report, security attacks increased 31 percent from 2020 to 2021. And it’s becoming more difficult to find the perpetrators of these crimes. 

The World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Risk Report found that the rate of finding and prosecuting cybercriminals is around 0.05 percent. 

Understanding Cyber Attacks

First, let’s look at what cyberattacks are and the greatest threats we’re currently facing. 

At its most basic, a cyberattack is a malicious attempt to steal, expose, or destroy data, disable systems and networks, or breach a system to launch additional attacks. 

These can be simple, targeted attacks by a single hacker or they can be incredibly complex strategies set forth by an organization, but regardless, the damage can be swift and severe. 

Growing types of cyberattacks in 2022 are: 

  • Ransomware: Ransomware is a type of malicious software that, once launched, encrypts data or shuts down access to a computer system until a ransom is paid. Even when the ransom is paid, the data has been breached and may be used or sold.  According to the Sophos 2022 Threat Report, 37 percent of companies were targeted by ransomware in 2021. 
  • Mobile malware: This is malicious software specifically designed to steal data and destroy operating systems on mobile devices, including smartphones and even smartwatches. 
  • Targeting the Internet of Things: Smart thermostats, doorbell cameras, cars, and refrigerators are all examples of IoT devices that can be easily breached and controlled. While this may not seem serious, temperature sensors in industrial settings can lead to shutdowns, fires, or other damage, while malware in vehicles can shut them down or even re-route them. 

The Consequences of Cyberattacks on Business

Cybercriminals are more likely to target businesses and companies because they tend to have more holes and gaps in their security that make them vulnerable to attacks. 

While the most heavily targeted industries are in the energy, financial, and technology sectors, all types of businesses can be targeted, and experience the following short and long-term effects. 

Loss of Productivity

When malware is deployed into a business, it can often shut down operations for hours, if not days. 

Consider the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack in May of 2021. While only a portion of their computer system that affected the billing infrastructure was breached, they had to shut down the entire system managing the pipeline to mitigate the damage. 

While this is one of the more extreme examples, nearly every business that experiences a cyberattack has to shut down part or all of their operations until the attack is solved, whether this is through paying a ransom, removing the malware from the device, network, or system, or restoring a backed up version of their system. 

Loss of Revenue

The costs of a cyberattack can cripple a business. Whether it’s having to shut down operations for several days, paying a ransom, losing data, replacing devices, or paying a security expert to clean all malware out of the system or network, the average cost of a data breach for a small to medium-sized business is $117,000 according to a report from Kaspersky Labs. What this study doesn’t cover are later costs, including paying for customer notification, credit monitoring, and even regulatory penalties. 

Loss of Reputation

The most serious effect of a cyberattack is the loss of reputation. Consider the data breaches that have affected Equifax, Target, and J.P. Morgan Chase — each of these companies lost their clients’ personal data, including social security numbers, bank account information, and credit card numbers. While they had the resources to recover, most businesses don’t recover from security breaches because they lose the trust of their clients and thus, lose business. 

The Impact of Cyberattacks on the Government

Cyberattacks against government agencies increased significantly in 2021, and according to IBM’s 2021 Cost of a Data Breach Report, simply identifying the breach takes an average of 287 days, while containing it takes an additional 93 days. 

The greatest concern of a cyberattack on a government entity is the sheer volume of data that can be lost, ranging from information about individual citizens that can be sold on the dark web, to issues of national security and military data that can be used by terrorist organizations. 

The Negative Effects of Cyberattacks on Society

Whether it’s a small organization or a government agency, when cyberattacks occur, the ramifications affect nearly every aspect of our society. 

Again, looking at the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack — This company carries gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from Texas to New York, and their pipeline accounts for nearly 45 percent of the fuel used along the East Coast. 

While the pipeline was shut down, millions of people experienced fuel shortages, and even airlines had to cancel and re-direct flights to account for the shortage. 

Rising Costs

When businesses, companies, and even non-profit service providers such as hospitals, have to pay the costs of a cyberattack, those costs are passed to the consumer. 

Shortages of Products or Services

Whether it’s a gas pipeline or healthcare, when a company has to interrupt their ability to carry out their service due to a malware attack or data breach, there will be shortages that the consumer will have to face. 

Contact Us for Cybersecurity Management and Network Security Solutions in Raleigh

Avoid the short and long-term costs and consequences of a cyberattack on your small to medium-sized business with network security solutions from Strategic Systems. We are proud to connect our clients with WatchGuard