If your business experiences a cyber attack, the impact can stretch further than downtime and lost data. Your reputation will take quite a hit, the people impacted can be at risk of identity theft, your staff can lose trust in the organisation, and you will be looking at some high financial costs.
For large enterprises, these risks can be incredibly damaging, but these organisations often have a chance of recovering. Small businesses, especially, can struggle to recover from these risks. So, as a leader, it is important that you understand them and how you can mitigate their impact.
1. Damage to your reputation
Your business’ reputation will take a significant hit in the wake of a cyber attack, and this will not disappear after a few weeks or months; it can linger for years. Your customers will lose trust in your business and may decide to no longer work with you or leverage your services, especially if they believe that you have been lax in protecting their information from malicious actors.
Negative press coverage can damage your reputation and lead to lost sales or reduced customer loyalty. You would have seen the large Australian companies that fell victim to cyber attacks recently – these are household names reported on the news, discussed on public radio and mentioned in conversation. As a result, many customers have discussed taking their business elsewhere, and people that might have paid for their services have decided not to.
2. Short- and long-term financial losses
Cyber attacks generate significant financial impacts in terms of immediate costs and long-term losses.
You might experience a cyber attack that generates immediate costs. For example, if you experience a phishing attack that aims to steal money from your organisation, you could lose thousands of dollars deposited into a criminal’s bank account.
After experiencing a cyber attack, you will need to investigate the cause and may be audited by the appropriate government bodies. You could receive hefty fines if you do not comply with the necessary data security regulations, and you may also be held accountable for any legal action from those affected by the breach.
In addition, you could suffer long-term losses related to decreased customer loyalty and trust if the cyber attack compromised their personal information. For example, you might bring in less business than you did in previous years and could also experience high employee turnover.
3. Adverse impact on your staff
A cyber attack can adversely impact your staff. People might feel powerless, leading to increased stress and decreased productivity. When they cannot service their customers properly or have to deal with upset customers, it can add to the already stressful incident.
You must ensure your staff have the appropriate support by providing information on how they can protect themselves and secure their accounts. Ensure that you have the right measures to reduce the risk of an attack occurring again. By taking these steps, you can help your staff feel more secure and better equipped to deal with any similar events in the future.
Staff impacted by a cyber attack can feel responsible for any damage to the organisation. The reality is that a cyber attack results from external factors, and no single individual is wholly accountable for a breach. So, it is important not to blame the people involved and instead focus on providing them with the knowledge needed to protect themselves and the business in the event of another attack.
4. Significant data loss
Data backups can mitigate the impact of a cyber attack, but they are not always enough, as sometimes a cybercriminal could get hold of your backups. So, it is important to understand those data backups alone cannot restore your systems and data after an attack.
A thorough backup plan should include additional security measures such as endpoint security, firewalls, antivirus software, patch management, and user education. It is important to remember that even with multiple layers of protection, a malicious actor can gain access to your systems. Regularly testing and updating your security protocols can help prevent such attacks from occurring. Additionally, you should have a comprehensive incident response plan to restore your systems quickly and efficiently in case of an attack.
5. Identify theft from leaked information
Personally identifiable information (PII) is an incredibly valuable asset to cyber criminals; this includes names, addresses, phone numbers, birthdates, and driver’s licence numbers. Criminals can sell this data on the dark web or use it themselves to open fraudulent accounts, access financial information, steal personal information, or even engage in blackmail. PII is also used to conduct spear phishing attacks that appear to be from a trusted source to elicit confidential information from the recipient.
Identity theft can leave customers and employees feeling vulnerable and have a huge financial impact on the company. For your organisation, identity theft can lead to financial losses due to fraudulent transactions, legal liabilities, and reputational damage.
So, you must understand the customer and employee data you collect, who has access to it and the protections keeping it safe. You must also regularly update your cyber security strategy and maintain vigilance in protecting your data. You should regularly update your systems with strong encryption, multi-factor authentication (MFA), and other security measures to minimise the chances of a successful attack.
alltasksIT can be your partner in managed cyber security
As a managed cyber security services company in Australia, we deliver MFA, cyber awareness training, persistent threat detection, access control, application control and DNS filtering. Visit our Managed Security page if you would like more information on what we can do for your organisation.