In today’s digital landscape, highly technical cyber-attacks are a great fear for modern businesses and can bring your operation to a grinding halt if you’re unprepared. Cybercrime can compromise your customer’s sensitive data, damage your reputation, disrupt operations and even leave your business completely unable to operate.
It’s key for businesses to learn what significant cybersecurity threats and attacks they should be aware of so they can take effective steps to protect themselves.
What is a cybersecurity threat?
A cybersecurity threat is any potential activity or event compromising a business’s security, integrity, or availability of computer systems, data or networks.
Cybercrime and cybersecurity threats aim to exploit any vulnerabilities in an organisation’s IT infrastructure and can encompass a wide range of malicious attacks.
When does a cybersecurity threat become an attack?
A cybersecurity threat becomes an attack when a business or individual suffers an intentional malicious attack that disrupts or damages its IT systems to damage or steal data, compromising its confidentiality, integrity or availability.
What cybersecurity attacks should a business be aware of?
There’s an alarmingly wide range of cybersecurity attacks your business should be aware of, any of which could leave your business open to significant disruption.
In addition, if your clients’ data is stolen or lost, you could find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit that could destroy everything you’ve worked so hard for. Forewarned is forearmed, so here are some significant cyber threats that you must protect your business from:
Phishing is a cyberattack where someone poses as a legitimate individual, using text, email or phone calls to trick you into revealing sensitive information, such as credit card details or passwords.
Ransomware is malware that locks victims out of their computer systems or encrypts their files until a ransom is paid to the hacker. Malware is typically spread via malicious email attachments, exploit kits or compromised websites.
DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service attacks
DDoS attacks use botnets or other amplification techniques to generate colossal traffic volumes that swamp your business website or network with traffic, so legitimate users can’t access it.
An insider threat occurs when one of your business partners, employees or contractors misuses their authority to cause harm to your business, either intentionally or by accident, by stealing data, introducing malware or sharing passwords.
APTs or Advanced Persistent Threats
APTs are extremely sophisticated, long-term attacks generally carried out by highly skilled cybercriminals, often based abroad. These attacks involve ongoing surveillance and infiltration of your business systems to enable criminals to steal valuable information or gain unauthorised access to your network.
Social engineering attacks use psychology to manipulate people into giving up sensitive information or performing certain actions. That can include pretexting and impersonation through various communication channels, including text, email or phone.
Zero-day exploit attacks target software with vulnerabilities that cannot be fixed or patched to launch attacks or get into your systems before you can prevent unauthorised access.
Malware is software designed to gain unauthorised access to your network to steal information or cause damage. Different forms of malware include Trojans, viruses, adware and spyware, all of which can be distributed via infected websites, email attachments and removable media like memory sticks and CDs.
Insider data theft
Insider data theft involves business employees or contractors stealing sensitive information for personal gain or to sell to third parties. That poses a big threat to your business, especially if you handle customers’ personal and financial data and can destroy valuable customer trust in your operation.
Internet of Things (IoT) vulnerability
Cybercriminals often target IoT devices, such as security cameras and smart appliances, because they typically have weak or non-existent security controls and can provide an easy network entry point.
The impact of a cyber attack on your business
A cyber attack can significantly impact your business, both in terms of damage to your reputation and financial losses.
Here’s how a serious cyber attack could impact your business:
Serious cyber attacks often result in big financial losses for businesses for various reasons. For example, stolen sensitive financial data, such as credit card information or bank account details, can be used for fraud.
The costs of investigating the attack, restoring your data and systems and implementing suitable security measures to prevent future attacks can be substantial.
A serious cyber attack can disrupt your business’s operation, causing downtime and impacting productivity. Cybercriminals might lock employees out of your business systems or encrypt data, making it inaccessible.
That can leave you with a damaged reputation, unhappy customers and lost revenue.
If you handle sensitive customer information, a cybersecurity breach can damage your company’s reputation and destroy customer trust and loyalty.
Rebuilding that trust is challenging and costly, and a serious security breach can even land you in court if it can be proven that you didn’t have sufficient, robust cybersecurity measures in place.
Data breaches often trigger mandatory reporting requirements to those directly affected and to the relevant regulatory authority, and your business could face legal consequences depending on the nature of the cyberattack.
In addition, if your business is found to be non-compliant with data protection regulations, you could be fined and face other penalties.
Intellectual property theft
Cybercriminals often target intellectual property and trade secrets and steal them for unauthorised use by your competitors, which can severely undermine your business’s market position.
Business partner relationships
If your business works closely with suppliers and business partners, a cyber attack on one party can domino affect the others. For example, if a hacker gains access to your network, that can compromise sensitive data, strain relationships and potentially impact the whole business network.
Recovering from a cyber attack can involve considerable costs, including incident response, forensic investigations, security enhancements to prevent future attacks and system repairs.
Those expenses can be massive, especially for SMEs without dedicated IT security teams, so having a comprehensive cyber insurance policy in place for your business is essential.
How to protect your business from cyber security threats
You must implement an effective cybersecurity strategy to protect your business from cybersecurity threats and attacks.
That should include regular software updates and patching, network monitoring, multi-factor identification, sensitive data encryption and regular security awareness training for your employees.
We also recommend that you have an incident response plan and cyber insurance coverage in place to help your business recover from a successful cyberattack as quickly as possible.
Cyber insurance with Stanmore Insurance
Cyber attacks and security threats are all too commonplace in today’s digital society, and you must be aware of the cybersecurity threats that could threaten your business operation.
As well as putting in place regular software updates, network monitoring, data encryption, multi-factor passwords and holding regular security awareness training for your employees, you should take out comprehensive cyber insurance for your business.
Call our expert team today to learn how Stanmore Insurance can help you protect your business from cybersecurity threats.