Phil MeekinView Profile
As more and more cyber-attacks take place and affect businesses across the country, it is important that businesses large and small look into ways to protect themselves as well as their customers’ and clients’ information.
So how exactly can a cyber-attack harm your business?
Cyber-attacks can significantly affect a business for several different reasons. As more businesses report being affected, the cost of dealing with this has risen to around £2.53 million in the UK.
The main price of a cyber-attack is the financial cost to your business as a result of time lost, work being interrupted and potential loss of business. You will also need to invest further and put in place software, processes and strategies to rebuild your business now, and protect it in the future. For some businesses, particularly small ones, the cost of an attack such as this could be too much for them to bear, potentially forcing them into insolvency.
Loss of information
Ransomware breaches, which have become increasingly common over the last few years, see data and information held to ransom by hackers, with the promise of releasing it once the ransom is paid. Such a disturbance can cause significant interruption to some businesses and organisations, such as the NHS, who suffered a ransomware breach in 2017. The NHS relies on data – in their case, patient files – to perform their day-to-day role. Any loss of information can harm a business and the data archive collected over the years.
There are two ways cyber-attacks can affect time in your business. Firstly, any attacks can hinder your ability to do your job, wasting time and potentially seeing deadlines missed. Also, you will have to focus your time improving the security surrounding your data and software, which can take up a lot of resources. Implementing these necessary measures could take some staff away from their work, leading to further loss of productivity. This loss of time can result in loss of profit, and in some circumstances, a loss of business.
When Plusnet got was hacked, it’s estimated that they lost around 95,000 customers, and for many people, a hack shows a sign of weakness. Customers may feel the business has failed to safeguard their information; therefore, they could take their business elsewhere to a company they feel will protect that information from future hacks.
Following the above point, customers and the public can lose trust in a company as a result of a cyber-attack on them. A loss of trust can be much more damaging than a loss of time or money for some businesses; it can take a lot to win back the trust of the general public. Changing perceptions of a company is difficult and takes time, effort and money with a positive message and a sensitive marketing campaign. In many ways, losing trust can be the worst effect of a cyber-attack on a business.
What can you do to prepare your business for a potential cyber-attack?
So what can you do to prepare and protect your business against any future cyber-attacks? As cyber-attacks become more and more common, and increasingly complicated, all businesses should be looking into protection for their data and software if they haven’t already put something in place.
Businesses should be:
- Assessing potential risks to their business; looking into those threats, vulnerabilities in their software and the likelihood of their business or sector being targeted by hackers.
- Taking advice from professionals on their current cybersecurity set up. Doing so provides an independent, unbiased view of their strengths and weaknesses.
- Putting together strategies to ensure they meet any cybersecurity controls set out in law or through standards agencies.
- Planning and testing their systems and the responses they have in place to breaches of data, ensuring if their business suffers a cyber-attack, they’re prepared to respond as quickly as possible, hopefully minimising damage to their company and reputation.
- Committing to the continuous improvement of their cybersecurity and the contingency processes they have in place. Doing so will ensure that everyone in the company understands the risks of cyber-attacks and knows exactly how they can help to keep their organisation, and the data it holds, secure.
All businesses need to be aware of the threats of cyber-attacks and work towards putting appropriate procedures and systems in place. Failure to prepare can lead to financial losses and a loss of customers’ and clients’ information. Customers may lose trust in your business and rebuilding your infrastructure and customer confidence will take time. Ensuring your business and staff are fully prepared should help to safeguard your business, both now and into the future against further attacks.