The term “cyberattack” is often used, but not everyone understands the potential implications that a business could face if they happen to fall victim to one. This is largely because business owners assume that it will never happen to them. Surely, cybercriminals would only target international corporations with money to burn, right? No, they are not concerned about the size of the business they are attacking. In fact, statistics show that smaller businesses are targeted more often as criminals assume that they will have less robust IT networks, and the impact can be devastating.
This article addresses the three main ways that a cyberattack can damage a business of any size: financially, reputationally, and legally.
Financial Damage Caused By Cyberattacks
The most well-known threat caused by cyberattacks is financial losses. This can occur when a cybercriminal steals financial information or money from the business, or when a cyberattack prevents the business from being able to operate (known as a Distributed Denial of Services attack). There are then also the additional costs associated with getting the systems back up and running and fixing the weakness that led to the initial breach.
Reputational Damage Caused By Cyberattacks
When a customer provides you with their sensitive information such as their home address, date of birth, bank details, or any other data that can identify them, they are placing their trust in you. If their data ends up in the hands of a cybercriminal because you did not take the proper precautions, that trust is destroyed. The result of this is not only lost customers and profits, but also a damaged reputation as word is likely to spread. It can take years to recover a damaged brand image, and it can also affect your ability to maintain commercial relationships with investors, suppliers, and partners.
Legal Impact Of A Cyber Breach
In recent years the laws surrounding confidentiality, privacy, and data protection have tightened considerably. All the data that you have on your customers, partners, suppliers, and staff must be stored securely. If your business is found to have intentionally or unintentionally leaked sensitive data and found to have inadequate business network security in place, you could end up owing a significant amount of money in financial penalties and regulatory sanctions.
The Importance Of Preparation
Be sure to train all staff on the risks of improper cybersecurity, as well as how to avoid/spot potential cyberattacks. For example, phishing emails are a common tactic used by cybercriminals to gain access to a business’ network.
In addition to staff training and ensuring you have a strong network with all relevant firewalls and protection, it is also important to have a response plan in place, i.e., how your business will react if it does fall victim to a cyberattack. Having a strategy in place that all staff members are aware of can drastically reduce the impact of the attack and minimise financial, reputational, or legal damages. If the attack has affected your ability to operate, the sooner you can get back up and running again the better for your productivity and reputation.