The critical importance of cybersecurity for business owners
A series of high-profile cyberattacks in 2021 shows that cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated—adding never-before-seen levels of complexity and intensity that are making it difficult for companies of all sizes to prevent, detect and mitigate the devastating impact of cyberthreats on their businesses.
As 2022 appears around the corner, business owners will inevitably be compelled to invest in IT security management services and cybersecurity protection in order to survive today’s cybersecurity threat landscape.
Cyberattacks show no signs of abating
Based on an analysis by the FBI’s Cyber Division—and in the United States alone—the number of complaints about cyberattacks in 2020 was over 4000 a day, which represented a 400% increase before the pandemic started. Interpol also reported “an alarming rate of cyberattacks aimed at major corporations, governments and critical infrastructure,” including critical medical organizations.
Security Magazine also outlined some frightening 2020 and 2021 statistics regarding cybersecurity threats:
- 1/3 of data breaches used social engineering techniques, of which 90% were phishing emails, scareware, quid pro quo and other methods. Social engineering attacks use human psychology to achieve nefarious goals. Scammers prey on the employees’ potential for human error, distractions, and lack of security expertise.
- Ransomware is also on the rise, with demands totalling US 1.4 billion in 2020 alone. Cybersecurity Ventures pointed out that in 2021, a business fell victim to a ransomware attack every 11 seconds.
- DoS attacks, whereby cybercriminals flood a network with malicious traffic that it can no longer operate or communicate, have plagued businesses of all sizes in 2020 and 2021, costing companies an estimated $100K per each hour of service disruption or downtime.
- Cybersecurity breaches with integrated third-party applications are also booming. These breaches allow attackers to pinpoint a critical vulnerability in one application in order to compromise the security and steal data from the entire ecosystem. A Ponemon Institute report found that over half of companies surveyed experienced a data breach by a third-party app or partner.
- With cloud computing becoming more important than ever, cybercriminals are being lured to hack cloud accounts that are based on cloud servers without significant security and exploit unpatched systems. These attacks are used to steal sensitive data, install ransomware, and even conduct DDoS or cryptojacking. The IDC estimates that in the past 18 months alone 79% of companies have experienced at least one cloud data breach—with 43% of them having indicated 10 or more breaches at that same time.
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), 2022 is poised to be a record year for data breaches, with cyberattacks becoming more systematic and refined in their targeting. And the upcoming year is predicted to be riddled with a rampage of ransomware attacks and other cyberthreats. In fact, TechTarget predicts that cybercrime damages are expected to total $10 trillion by 2025.
Why are there so many cyberthreats?
There are many reasons for the spike in cyberthreats:
- The global pandemic has certainly been a goldrush for cybercriminals. COVID-19 has driven a massive shift towards remote work and shifting operations to the cloud in a scramble to maintain business continuity. Most people who have had to work or study from home have meant a surge in access to cloud services, collaborative tools and remote systems from home and public networks, which may not be secured or used properly to prevent attacks.
- Weak links in automated business workflows and data exchange between SaaS applications allows for aggressive lateral attacks in a company’s business application mesh.
- Unpatched VPN and endpoint vulnerabilities are exploited by cybercriminals thanks to exposure from remote access.
- Shopping from home and being more digitally connected than ever before has also been an offshoot from the pandemic, with identity theft skyrocketing.
- According to several studies, human error results in more than 95% of security breaches. In other words, if there are 30 security breaches then 28 will be due to human error. A specific report from Kaspersky Lab found that 90% of security breaches with companies are caused by their very own employees.
- Supply chains are becoming magnets for cybersecurity breaches due to a lack of a comprehensive security strategy and vulnerabilities across systems and with different stakeholders.
- IoT, which is the foundation of interconnected devices and Industry 4.0, for example, transmit so much essential data, they are ripe targets for cybercriminals.
- The rise in cryptocurrency transactions is generating a boom in cryptocrime, such as cryptojacking, and the use of cryptocurrency for illegal activities.
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Types of cyberattacks
Cyberattacks, in terms of nature and level of sophistication evolve at a rapid-fire pace. Here are just some cyberthreats that cybersecurity pros and organizations monitor on a daily—and even minute-by-minute basis.
Malware is a suspicious software like email or link that can harm your data. It gets access to your system when you click an unnecessary email or link. Once you click, it can steal your data, delete it, or misuse your sensitive information. Moreover, it can also block access to critical applications or files. Types of malware are ransomware, viruses, trojans, worms and spyware.
In phishing, attackers demand your sensitive information through emails as if they belong to some legal organization. In this way, they get access to data like account number, credit card information, or login details. There are several types of phishing, including spear phishing, whaling, vishing, pharming, and voice/SMS phishing.
As the term suggests, in this attack, cybercriminals lie in between two parties and steal the information without being notified to anyone. They can listen to your private communication while attacking public Wi-Fi. This attack is also premised by human error by clicking on unnecessary pop ups.
In this attack, hackers make your network and website busy by sending fake and harmful traffic. This fake traffic prevents actual users from doing their job as the system becomes unusable and very slow.
There are several other types of cybersecurity breaches that can wreak havoc on a business, such as cross-site scripting, rootkits, IoT attacks, password attacks, Zero-day Exploit, and SQL injections.
What are the costs of cyberattacks for businesses?
Unit 42’s 2020 Incident Response and Data Breach Report indicated that “quested ransom amounts rose nearly 200% from 2018 to 2019, averaging $115,123 in 2019. If that number isn’t hefty enough for you, Unit 42 also reported that the highest ransom demand witnessed over the last five years was $15,000,000, while the highest paid ransom for a Unit 42 matter was $5,000,000.”
It is also important to note that there are many hidden costs to cyberattacks. Deloitte outlines 7 costs that may not be immediately apparent to companies that don’t invest in cybersecurity strategies and solutions. Apart from business disruption, below-the-surface outlays include: increased costs (ransomware payouts, insurance premiums, PR, legal, and cybersecurity support, and costs associated with raising debts), lost revenues, customer churn, reputational damage, and stolen intellectual property.
Cyberattacks can also cause a business to alter business practices, downsize, slash jobs—and ultimately close for good. In fact, 60% of SMEs close within 6 months of a cybersecurity incident.
How can your business boost its cyber-resiliency?
In sum, without the proper IT security management services, cybersecurity preventative measures, and basic IT hygiene, companies can be exposed to threats that put their very survival on the line.
Executives need to make cybersecurity a top priority. Building a security-first culture, which entails embedding security in all products, services and workflows as well as consistently training employees, is the good step towards transforming a business into a more cyber-resilient business.
Assessing and fixing cybersecurity vulnerabilities, with investments in IT security services and modern technology frameworks, is a second step companies should take for a successful cyber-resiliency strategy.
Every company must do its part to maximize protection and minimize risks. Need to kickstart your cyber-resiliency plan? It starts with a comprehensive cybersecurity audit.