The Impact of Cyber Attacks on Businesses

Cyber attacks are one of the biggest threats facing businesses today. No matter the size of your company or the industry you are in, if you have a digital presence, you could be targeted by cyber criminals. A strong digital security strategy is essential for protecting both your business and your customers against these ever-present threats.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the impacts that cyber attacks can have on your business, as well as what you can do to prevent them from happening in the future.

What is a cyber attack?

Cyber attacks are any type of digital attack launched with offensive or malicious intent. Cyber attacks can happen to a wide variety of devices and systems, ranging from individual mobile phones and computers all the way to entire computer systems. Many cyber attacks are launched with the intention of stealing financial information or other sensitive pieces of data. Cyber attacks can also be used to make a website or piece of technology unusable, which can affect your ability to do business. Cyber attacks are incredibly common – it is estimated that cyber attacks happen every 39 seconds.

5 Ways Cyber Attacks Impact Businesses

There are many different ways that cyber attacks can hurt your business. Unfortunately, hackers have continually gotten savvier over the years, finding sneaky ways to target growing businesses without you noticing. If left unaddressed, these cyber attacks can be devastating for your business. Here are five key ways that cyber attacks impact your business, even without you noticing.

Financial Losses

A cyber attack can be financially devastating for your business. Ransomware attacks have become very common and can cost companies thousands of dollars. Ransomware steals key pieces of customer information or intellectual property from your system and charges a ransom to return them. Although these attacks often target established corporations, they can happen to businesses of any size.

Many companies also lose revenue as a result of cyber attacks. Customers might feel uncomfortable shopping at your business after a cyber attack, worrying that their security will be compromised. Additionally, cyber attacks can take your e-commerce site offline for an extended period of time, resulting in even more lost sales.

Damaged Reputation

If customers learn that your systems have been compromised, it can have a negative impact on your reputation in the long term. Consumers today are aware of the constant threat of cyber crime and want to take steps to protect their personal information. If your company is vulnerable to cyber attacks, potential customers are likely to take their business elsewhere.

Additionally, cyber attacks can deter suppliers and other business partners from working with you in the future due to security risks. Cyber crime can also have a negative effect on the valuation of your company. For publicly traded companies, this can result in a drop in stock prices. This can also prevent startup companies from being acquired in the future.

Operational Challenges

Cyber attacks can disrupt the day-to-day operations of your business. Instead of focusing on growing your business and connecting with customers, you will need to take the time to combat these cyber attacks. Cybercriminals have become very sophisticated, and attacks can affect everyone in the company, regardless of what their job is. Depending on the complexity of the attack, it can take hours or even days to fully resolve the problem.

Loss of Intellectual Property

One of the most frustrating parts of dealing with a cyber attack is a loss of valuable intellectual property. Many cyber criminals will target things like product designs or patented technology that they know will be valuable. The loss of this intellectual property can be devastating for your business, especially in the early stages of your company’s development.

New Expenses

A cyber attack can result in ongoing increased security costs for your business. After the security breach has happened, you will likely need to upgrade your systems in order to prevent it from happening again. Additionally, you may need to replace pieces of technology that were damaged. These costs can really add up over time.

Companies may also need to pay for public relations and marketing support after a cyber attack. This includes the costs of reaching out to customers that have been affected by the attack as well as the cost of new marketing campaigns to combat any reputation damage.

How To Prevent Cyber Attacks

It’s worth investing in secure systems up front to prevent cyber attacks from happening. Every company is different and requires unique security features, but you’ll generally want to start with a good firewall and a reliable access management system. You may also want to consult with a cybersecurity expert who can recommend the right security measures for your business.

Once you have a security system in place, it’s important to keep all of your software programs up to date. Software updates are designed to correct security weaknesses, so if you don’t update, you could find yourself more vulnerable to cyber attacks. Regular system backups are another key security practice to incorporate into your routine. System backups ensure that you won’t lose all of your data permanently even if you are hacked.

Additionally, every employee should be trained to spot potential phishing scams and dangerous links in the course of their work. If your entire staff is trained in this, cyber criminals won’t have a weak link that they can attack through. Employees will also need to use complex and secure passwords as well as two-factor authentication methods.

Finally, consider investing in a commercial insurance plan. This type of insurance can protect you from some of the financial losses that can result from a cyber attack.

Cyber criminals don’t discriminate – every business with an online presence is vulnerable to cyber attacks, regardless of the market you serve or the size of your business. This is why it is so important to invest in a quality security system for your business that will protect you from these attacks.

 

Courtesy of Ashley Lukehart and Parachute

Ashley has been writing about the impact of technology and IT security on businesses since starting Parachute in 2005. Her goal has always been to provide factual information and an experienced viewpoint so that business leaders are empowered to make the right IT decisions for their organizations. By offering both the upsides and downsides to every IT solution and consideration, expectations are managed and the transparency yields better results.

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