Cybercriminals have more targets now that organisations have adopted a remote style of work. The unfortunate outcome is that organisations must adopt remote work in some shape or form, or risk losing significant income, time, convenience and potential competitive edge. Fortunately, organisations have shifted into investing into cybersecurity as a means to combat cyber threats, but still underestimate the catastrophic damage a cyber event can cause. Thus, it’s important that organisations are aware and understand just how much damage a cybercriminal can cause once they have compromised a system.
Disrupting day to day operations
Depending on the nature of the cyber incident such as phishing and ransomware, a cybercriminal may have various intentions, but the commonality is to cause significant disruption with the intention to reap some financial reward for their efforts. So, the idea is to disrupt your organisation enough to effect services and delivery of services or products to clients, and in some extreme cases, a total shut down of business operations.
Your organisation may also need to temporarily change the way they operate because of the compromise. This means delays and inconveniences to day-to-day operations – testing the resiliency of your organisation – as well as irrecoverable losses to company and client data. In the long term, this is time and revenue that cannot be recovered. In the short term, this change may also be something that cannot be implemented gradually but immediate out of necessity – a change that may have been a “want”, has now become a change that is a “need”.
Now that your organisation has been compromised, it’s almost impossible to calculate how much damage the cybercriminal will cause, and you may not even know that you have been compromised until the cybercriminal makes their presence known. Their intentions are usually to leverage critical information against the organisation for monetary gain or to exfiltrate data and sell it for similar gain. In some instances, these cybercriminals may encrypt all this information regardless if they get what they want, meaning you are locked away from your own critical information that is now completely out of your control until you meet their demands.
Whether your organisation is a fortune 500 or a startup, maintaining a positive reputation results in a solid client base and a healthy return of customers in the long term. Customers may not feel safe or trust an organisation after they have been compromised and may look elsewhere for similar products and services. Those customers “word of mouth” alone through online reviews, recommendations to people around them and so forth may add extra fuel to the fire and make building a reputation from the ground up again a truly impossible task.
In more extreme circumstances, some organisations keep hold of critical client information such as finances, credit card information and investments. If an organisation like this gets compromised in any way – aside from the legal implications – the reputational damage essentially becomes irreversible and unless you’re an organisation that is essential for businesses to run – the chance of permanent closure can quickly become a reality. Reputation is something that cannot be bought, and in the corporate world is something that can take years to develop but can be lost overnight.
All this cost, damage, and inconvenience can be caused from a single individual who clicked on a suspicious link or email and was none the wiser to what they were doing – it’s really that simple for a cybercriminal. In today’s world, having a cybersecurity partner by your side is something that is becoming somewhat of a need, because organisations need specifically designed preventative measures and systems in place to protect themselves from cyberattacks. Even if a cybercriminal manages to compromise your systems, the mitigation a cybersecurity partner will save your organisation may be the difference between permanent closure. They will also have tools, techniques and human capital in place to detect any anomalies and inaccuracies to pick up whether a cyber threat might be lurking in the organisation. All in all, it would be a wise decision in the current climate to invest in an active program to improve cybersecurity maturity or a partner as a strategic service provider for your organisation. It’s important to remember, it’s not a matter of “if” you will be compromised, but rather “when” you will be compromised.