Are you currently experiencing an attack?

Are you currently experiencing an attack?

How a data breach can ruin your business

When talking about data breaches and their cost, people usually talk about monetary aspects. But, more times than none, the price of a data breach is much higher than a fine or direct loss of revenue. 

When your website is breached your most sensitive information (and your customers’ information) is compromised. Having this information out in the wild for anyone to see, buy and use can have a devastating impact on your organization. 

For example, in July 2015, the Ashley Madison website was breached and in August of the same year, more than 60 Gigabytes of user data were leaked including personal details. 

A website being hacked and getting it’s users’ data stolen is not a new thing and in many cases will end with a fine for the website owners. The case of Ashley Madison was a little different as this is an online dating service and social networking service marketed to people who are married or in relationships with a tagline of ״Life is short. Have an affair״.

So, if a site like this is hacked and personal data of users, including name, addresses, and phone numbers are exposed, you can assume that the aftermath will not be a small fine.

In this case, the parent company of Ashley Madison settled for the amount of $11.2 Million 

When we talk about a website being hacked we need to think of the consequences. A data breach can cost a business a lot more than just money. 

First, let’s look at how a website can be exposed to a data breach. 

DDoS 

The goal of a DDoS attack is to disrupt the targeted organization by overwhelming its web applications or APIs with incoming requests, making them unavailable for normal use. If the victim cannot filter out the attack traffic, the disruption will last for as long as the attacker wishes. A DDoS attack can cause loss of sales revenue and longer-term loss of customer goodwill and reputation in the marketplace. In extreme or frequent cases, a decline in search engine rankings can occur.

SQL Injection

SQL injection attacks a database by executing SQL commands. An attacker can use these commands to find vulnerabilities in the application or to exploit the database. There are many ways they can take advantage of SQLi vulnerability. 

SQL injection attacks are very serious and can allow attackers to fool identification procedures (spoofing), change existing data, create financial damage such as voiding transactions, expose sensitive data on the system, erase data, and getting access privileges to the server. 

Phishing

A phishing attack is in part luck and part planning. As its name might imply, the attackers try to hook an unsuspecting user with a malicious URL or file download that will allow them to take over the user’s website. Many phishing attacks are done on business emails in order to catch a big fish. 

When it comes to phishing attacks, the best practice is if something looks suspicious, do not open. The only problem with this is that some phishing attacks are so sophisticated that it is very easy to be fooled.

Credentials/Brute Force

User credentials are highly coveted commodities on the dark web. Hackers discover credentials by sending out bots to wage brute-force attacks; the bots attempt to gain access to a web

application by trying every possible combination of letters, numbers, and symbols, to see which combinations work. Or, they steal credential sets (personal identification data, account

logins, and passwords, contact data, etc.) in massive data breaches. Hijacked accounts cause numerous problems for the victim and its customers. When the data breaches are discovered, the victim is the target of bad publicity, loss of reputation and trust, and may receive fines and

penalties from industry and privacy regulators.

The cost of a data breach

When people talk about the cost of a data breach it’s usually about money. But data breaches can cost companies and organizations more than just money. Sometimes the cost is your reputation. 

If you get caught doing something wrong like speeding, you get a ticket, pay the fine and forget about it. The same goes for a data breach. Organizations like the EU, in an attempt to reduce the number of data breaches, enforced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulations that, in part, guide the company on what they must do to comply with cybersecurity regulations. The GDPR also states that companies may be subjected to fines in case of a data breach. For example, British Airways was slapped with a huge fine of £183 million due to a data breach that exposed users’ data. 

But it is more than just fines. With a data breach, you expose your users’ most sensitive information. They trusted you and they got burned. In cases like this, your reputation is on the line. 

There are two types of organizations – those that inform users of a data breach and urge them to be vigilant and change passwords, and those that try to cover it up. 

In late 2016, Uber paid a hacker $100,000 after he breached their database. In 2017, Uber revealed that it was breached and that a hacker downloaded 57 million records of user data and driver information. Uber got fined $148 Million over this coverup attempt. 

Now, put yourself in the place of an Uber user who was notified that not only was his personal information got exposed, but that the company knew about it and did not warn you in a timely manner. I bet you will think twice before you use Uber again. 

In fact, according to a recent survey, one in four Americans will not do business with a data breached company. 

What to do?

As a business owner, you need to know the sad truth – you will get hacked. The average cost of a data breach is $3.92 Million. Now, you can say that it will never happen to you but almost one-third of U.S. businesses had a Data Breach and the numbers are rising each year. 

You need to understand that a data breach is just a matter of time. As long as you are prepared you can minimize the effect of the breach. 

Here are some examples of the steps you can take to protect your data:

  1. Get the appropriate protection – There is no one security solution that can protect you from every cyber attack coming your way. But, you can minimize the number of solutions you acquire by having a holistic solution for each threat vector. For example, instead of having a solution that only protects you from DDoS, get a solution that protects you from all web attacks including DDoS. 
  2. Make sure you adhere to the regulations – Be it GDPR or the new California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), as long as you comply with the regulation requirements, you are more than halfway there. Not only do they tell you what you need to do in order to protect your organization, but they also tell you what to do in case of a breach. 
  3. Don’t try to hide – As we already explained, the chances of you getting breached in the future are more than good. In case you do find yourself dealing with a data breach, don’t try to hide because the truth will find its way out there and then you will be in a whole new situation. 
  4. Get professional help – You are the best person to do what you do. Security specialists are the best at their jobs. Hire a dedicated security professional to handle all security elements in your organization. Then obtain the appropriate security solution to your situation. 
  • TIP – If you do not have the ability to hire a security officer or the time to constantly keep your security solution up to date, some security vendors offer managed solutions, meaning that they will install and run the security solution for you. In this way, they will manage your security and will respond immediately in case of a breach. Coming back to number four – let the best person do the job. No one knows the product better than the people that invented it. 

You can find more tips on how to secure your organization here.

Conclusion

With a quick search of the web, we see that many organizations have been hacked. You can say that these are major organizations and you are a small or medium business – who will want to attack you? 

Forty-three percent of cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses, but only 14% are prepared to defend themselves, according to Accenture.

Instead of hiding from the truth, why not prepare for it? By following the steps mentioned above you can protect your business before, during, and after a cyber attack. 

For more information and help with protecting your businesses and complete compliance, feel free to contact us. 

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