Beyond the Breach: What Would Happen to Your Business in the Wake of a Cyber Attack?

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May 8, 2024

Let’s set the scene: You walk into the office one morning to the sight of frantic employees huddled around computers, faces etched with worry. Emails are down, phones are silent, and a sickening pit forms in your stomach. You’ve been hacked.

Cyber attacks are a growing threat for businesses of all sizes in Australia. How much could a cyber attack cost your business? According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), the average cost of cybercrime in Australia increased 14% in 2023 compared to the previous financial year. This equates to an average cost of $46,000 for small businesses, $97,200 for medium-sized companies, and $71,600 for larger enterprises. Of course, these numbers can never capture the complete picture or the true cost to businesses and their employees, customers, and other stakeholders. 

To give you a feel of what the fallout of a cyber attack is truly like, we’ve combed through reputable resources, spoken with businesses who’ve been there, and used a dash of logical deduction to paint a realistic picture. This guide will give you a glimpse into a future you don’t want, including the state of your office during the immediate aftermath, the impact it could have on your team, and the damage it could do to your reputation. Though it does sound grim, you’ll also gain the knowledge you need to avoid it.

The Post-Hack Scramble: Chaos and Confusion

The initial hours after a cyber attack are a whirlwind of activity. Your IT department scrambles to contain the damage, assess the scope of the breach, and determine how to get critical systems back online. Employees are left frustrated and unsure – can they access customer data? Is their work safe? What about their personal data – was that compromised too?

Though far more research is needed on the psychological impact of cyber attacks on employees, a growing body of work points to serious effects that can linger for weeks or more after the event (see, for example, this study from The International Journal of Information Management or this report from Bournemouth University). This emotional toll can be significant, leading to decreased productivity and a strained work environment.

Financial Fallout: Counting the Costs of a Cyber Attack

The financial repercussions of a cyber attack can be crippling. Depending on the nature of the attack, you may be looking at:

  • Ransomware payments: Hackers may hold your data hostage, demanding a hefty ransom to decrypt it.
  • Data recovery costs: Recovering lost or corrupted data can be a costly and time-consuming process.
  • Legal fees: You may face legal action from customers affected by the breach, requiring legal representation.
  • Regulatory fines: Depending on your industry, data breach notification laws can result in significant fines for non-compliance.

The 2021 ransomware attack on global meatpacker JBS serves as a stark reminder of the financial impact. The company reportedly paid an $11 million ransom to regain control of its systems. This single attack crippled JBS’ operations and sent shockwaves through the global meat industry.

Erosion of Trust: The Reputational Blow

Perhaps the most insidious consequence of a cyber attack is the damage it inflicts on your reputation. News of a data breach can spread like wildfire, eroding customer trust in your ability to protect their sensitive information. This can lead to:

  • Loss of customers: Customers who feel their data is at risk may take their business elsewhere.
  • Damaged brand image: A tarnished reputation can be difficult and expensive to repair.
  • Negative media coverage: News outlets love a good cyber attack story, potentially putting your company in the negative spotlight.

Take the example of the 2017 Equifax data breach, where the personal information of millions of Australians was compromised. The company faced widespread public backlash, a significant drop in stock price, and hefty fines from regulators – a clear illustration of the reputational damage a cyber attack can inflict.

Your customers and employees may also experience long-lasting shockwaves if their data is compromised in the event. Identity theft is the most pressing concern, but they’re also likely to experience an uptick in phishing messages and other scam vectors in the wake of the cyber attack. To learn more about this frustrating post-hack symptom, visit our guide covering the most common scams to look out for after a cyber attack

The Long Road to Post-Hack Recovery

Recovering from a cyber attack is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires a multi-pronged approach, including:

  • Incident response: Implementing a well-defined incident response plan to contain the attack, investigate the source, and minimise damage.
  • Customer notification: Following data breach notification laws to transparently inform affected customers about the breach and the steps you’re taking to address it.
  • Security audit: Conducting a thorough security audit to identify vulnerabilities and implement stronger security measures to prevent future attacks.

Building Resilience: How to Fortify Your Cyber Security Defences

Cyber attacks aren’t slowing down anytime soon – they’re far too profitable for cyber criminals to walk away from. However, by taking proactive steps to strengthen your defences and having a plan in place, you can significantly reduce the risk and impact of an attack.

The best defence against a cyber attack is a proactive approach. Here are some crucial steps you can take to strengthen your cyber security measures:

  • Invest in cybersecurity awareness training: Empower your employees to recognise and report suspicious activity.
  • Implement robust security measures: This includes firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and data encryption.
  • Regularly back up your data: Having a secure backup ensures you can restore critical information in case of an attack.
  • Develop a comprehensive incident response plan: Knowing what to do in the event of an attack minimises downtime and mitigates damage.

What if You Worked with a Managed Service Provider from the Start?

A Managed Services Provider (MSP) can be your strongest ally in building a robust cyber security posture. Indeed, with the level of continuous, high-level support provided by the best MSPs, you’re highly unlikely to ever walk into the scenarios described above. If anything were to go wrong, you would have instant action and support, even if the hack attempt came at 1 AM on Christmas morning. Here’s what you can expect from a quality MSP: 

1. Expertise on Demand

In-house IT teams are often stretched thin, making it difficult to keep up with the ever-evolving cyber threat topography. An MSP brings a team of seasoned IT security professionals with the knowledge and experience to implement best practices and stay ahead of emerging threats. This expertise is available to you round-the clock, proactively and on-demand, eliminating the need to constantly recruit and train specialised staff.

2. A Multi-Layered Cyber Security System

A strong cyber security strategy goes beyond firewalls and antivirus software. An MSP can help you implement a layered defence system that includes:

Vulnerability assessments and patching: Regularly identifying and patching vulnerabilities in your systems is crucial for keeping attackers at bay. An MSP can automate these processes, ensuring your systems are always up-to-date.

Email security and spam filtering: Malicious emails are a common entry point for cyber attacks. An MSP can implement advanced email security solutions to block phishing attempts and malware before they have a chance to reach your employees.

Endpoint security: This protects all your devices – laptops, desktops, and mobile phones – from unauthorised access and malware infection. An MSP can manage and monitor endpoint security solutions, ensuring all devices are protected.

3. Continuous Monitoring and Threat Detection

Cybercriminals are constantly developing new tactics. An MSP can provide 24/7 monitoring of your network for suspicious activity, allowing our skilled technicians to detect and respond to threats quickly, minimising potential damage.

4. Incident Response Planning and Recovery

Even with the best defences, a cyber attack might still occur.  An MSP can help you develop a comprehensive incident response plan outlining steps to take in case of an attack. This includes steps for containment, eradication, recovery, and communication. Additionally, MSPs can ensure you have robust backup and disaster recovery solutions in place, allowing you to quickly restore your data and operations in case of a breach.

5. Ongoing Education and Training

Your employees can be your biggest weakness or your strongest line of defence against cyber attacks – it all comes down to training. An MSP can provide ongoing cybersecurity awareness training, educating your staff on how to recognise phishing attempts and other social engineering tactics.

By partnering with an MSP, you gain access to a wealth of expertise, advanced security solutions, and continuous monitoring, all designed to proactively protect your business from cyber threats. This allows you to focus on your core business activities, knowing your IT infrastructure and data are in safe hands.

The Takeaway: Be Prepared, Not Scared

The story of a cyber attack shouldn’t be one of chaos and despair. It should be a story of resilience – of a business prepared to weather the storm with grace. By investing in cybersecurity and having a clear recovery plan, you can emerge from a cyber attack stronger and more prepared than ever before. By protecting your business, you also nurture a strong sense of trust with your customers because you’re clearly demonstrating your commitment to their data security. 

At Invotec, we’re passionate about empowering businesses like yours to establish unshakeable foundations in the endlessly evolving cybersecurity terrain. Our team of battle-tested IT professionals knows how to fix breaches, but where they shine is in building impenetrable fortresses.

Ready to take control of your digital security? Contact Invotec today for a free consultation. Let’s discuss your unique needs and craft a bulletproof plan that keeps your business safe and thriving.

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