If you’re worried about how likely your company is to be cyber attacked, you’re not alone. As the world increasingly embraces the digital marketplace, valuable data is more at risk than ever, and it can be difficult to know whether a business is fully protected against a breach.
Just as you would secure your home against intruders, so too must your business be kept as secure as possible. Of course, a business is more difficult to protect than a physical abode. Lock the doors and windows of a home and enlist a solid alarm system, and you’re likely set. Conversely, cyber attacks enter the foundation of your business through tiny (and not so tiny) cracks in the online mortar left vulnerable by business owners and employees alike.
While the likelihood that your company could get cyber attacked is out of your hands, how it affects your company is largely up to you and depends on how carefully you’ve prepared for the attack.
What is a cyber attack?
Cue the virtual mugshots: cyber criminals hide behind their PCs and Macs to forcibly extract data from other computers (or networks). Depending on the sophistication of the attack and how targeted it is, these criminals’ actions can result in the shuttering of the victimized devices completely. Other attacks just use that single compromised computer as a stepping stone for other attacks, and still others suck the data out of the device, compromising personal and financial information and sparking a whole onslaught of trouble.
Cyber attacks occur at every level of commerce (and are now even part of modern day warfare). Take, for example, the Apache Log4j vulnerability, which results in java-based web servers getting hitchhiked and used for a variety of ill effects such as the spreading of malware or ransomware.
Cyber attacks are now a regular part of actual war; for example, when the Russia-Ukraine conflict began, Ukraine saw cyber attacks directed at its military increase by 196%.
Another well-known attack with a deceptively positive name is the Solarwinds Sunburst attack, which targeted more than 18,000 organizations by enticing them to download what seemed like a normal software update. Unfortunately, the ‘software update’ made it possible for cyber criminals to access data. This cyber attack is ongoing and extremely destructive.
These big cyber attacks are what make the headlines, and they could lead you to assume that only large organizations get targeted. But you’d be wrong. Every day, businesses and individuals suffer cyber attacks that never make the news. What should make the news is how devastating these attacks can be for small businesses: 60% of small businesses close within 6 months of suffering a cyber attack. That’s why it’s imperative to enact safeguards in the cyber realm on a consistent basis.
6 Industries at Risk of Cyber Attack
Resist the urge to believe that a business that is small is not attractive to cyber criminals; the small businesses sometimes make the biggest targets. After all, what type of training does a small business offer to inform employees what data should and shouldn’t be shared with outside entities? Without proper security protocols, employees are more likely to download programs they don’t recognize or offer login credentials to cyber criminals posing as fellow employees.
The list of possibilities is long, and it’s tough for a training to cover all of them (and that’s assuming the small business has a training at all). That vulnerability makes a small business low-hanging fruit to cyber criminals.
COVID-19 made a mess of so many things in our world – the healthcare industry included. Lots of healthcare entities were targeted during the pandemic because the pandemic opened up new vulnerabilities, and ransomware has been rampant. This software puts a proverbial wall up between a person and their data, keeping them apart until a ransom is paid. Healthcare organizations see these attacks as virtual emergency situations. Not being able to access patient data or other important health information can literally be a matter of life and death.
Cyber criminals who want to make problems for state and municipal governments have their weapons at the ready, and the results are costly. Ransomware cost the United States government $18.8 billion dollars in 2020 (estimated using cost of recovery, etc.). Education for government employees regarding cyber security is a definite necessity, given the popularity of this type of attack.
Online banking is widespread, and with it comes the risk of online theft. All it takes is for a hacker to make a fake login page that looks legitimate and, voila! Sensitive information falls into the hands of those who seek to do harm. Trojan horses are widespread problems in this sector – and they don’t have anything to do with the ancient city of Troy.
A Trojan horse is a type of malware disguised as a legitimate program in order to gain access to a server. Data and server attacks upon financial institutions go straight to the sources of delicate information – ripping credit cards and social security numbers from supposedly ‘safe’ storage places and making them visible for hackers to exploit. In this type of cyber attack, malicious code is deployed to steal that information.
Online education platforms have drastically increased over the past few years (remember the online learning boom during the pandemic?). This use of technology for educational purposes has opened more schools up to cyber attack – specifically, to malware and spam.
Energy and utility companies
If the United State’s largest fuel pipeline can be compromised due to ransomware, anything and anyone is at risk for cyber attack. In 2021 hackers shut down the Colonial Pipeline which originates in Texas and serves the southeastern U.S. The resulting gas shortages across the country resulted in an increase in fuel prices and a loss in consumer confidence. And while that example may be extraordinary, still there are (and continue to be) many other attacks on smaller utilities.
Cyber Attack Statistics
If you’re still not convinced of the importance of keeping your online data secure from cyber attacks, consider these figures:
- 50% of all cyber attacks are against small to mid-sized businesses.
- The average cost of a data breach for small businesses ranges from $120,000 to $1.24 million.
- Between 2018 and 2020, over two thirds of all small to mid-sized businesses reported a cyber crime incident.
- Cyber crime went up by 600% during the Covid pandemic.
Any web search of ‘cyber attack statistics’ will reveal the danger you and your organization are in on a daily basis.
The 10 Most Common Cyber Attacks
While there are many types of cyber attacks, the ones listed below are currently the most common.
- DOS and DDoS Attacks
- MITM Attacks
- Phishing Attacks
- Whale-phishing Attacks
- Password Attacks
- SQL Injection Attacks
- URL Interpretation
- DNS Spoofing
Remember: a full-scale strategy to protect your business (and yourself) from cyber attack is the best strategy. Work with a professional who understands the risks you face and knows how to mitigate them.
Is Cyber Insurance Worth the Cost?
Cyber attacks can be devastating – both personally and professionally. The cost of cyber insurance hinges on the type of business being protected and the level of risk it experiences. If the amount of personal data a business handles is significant, the cost will likely be more. One way to lower cost and protect the business at the same time is to put security protocols in place that lower your business’s risk for a breach. The coverage limits you select, along with the size of the deductible, will also determine the cost.
Just as with historical warfare, protection and preparation are important to a defense. Don’t be left vulnerable to cyber attack. Instead, have a clear and ongoing strategy to combat it. And if cyber criminals do slip through your systems and take sensitive data or release ransomware into the equation, know that you have cyber insurance to back you up.
Cyber insurance can protect different industries from popular types of cyber attacks. Contact Wallace Welch & Willingham to find out how our cyber liability insurance products can help protect your business. Request a quote today!