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Cyber ​​Attacks: Real Risks and Disruptions



cyber attack

A cyber attack can do more than disrupt your organization’s computer systems. The world has become increasingly dependent on the Internet; at the same time, cyber attacks have become more sophisticated and malicious. As a result, cyber attacks can cause disruptions in real life.

You may lose access to important information

Since most of your information is probably stored in online systems, what happens when you lose access to those systems? Imagine the following scenarios:

  • You need to call an important customer or supplier, but you don’t have a phone number or email address.
  • You need to provide an answer about last quarter’s figures, but these figures are not available at this time.
  • You need to prepare for a high-stakes meeting, but you’ve lost your notes.

These examples show how losing access to key information stored on your computers can disrupt your day-to-day operations.

Important equipment may not work

Modern businesses are often dependent on computer systems and software. A ransomware attack can shut down many systems critical to day-to-day business operations—from cash registers and scheduling software to critical infrastructure and life-saving equipment.

Here are just a few examples of how cyber attacks have affected businesses in recent years:

  • According to the BBC, a supermarket chain with 800 stores in Sweden had to close around half of its stores temporarily after its software supplier was hit by ransomware. The attack caused the payment system at the tills and self-service tills to stop working.
  • Bleeping Computer says METRO, an international wholesaler, experienced store payment issues following a ransomware attack. The company had to make offline payments and online orders were delayed.
  • According to Infosecurity, a cyber attack disrupted a Scandinavian hotel chain’s ability to check in or out guests or generate new room keys, meaning staff had to escort guests to their rooms.

This type of disruption sounds like a major inconvenience, but attacks on infrastructure can cause even more widespread disruption. A ransomware attack shut down Colonial Pipeline’s operations for five days, sending gas prices soaring on the East Coast, and CNET warns that the nation’s infrastructure is vulnerable to future attacks of this nature.

When attacks target hospitals, lives can be at risk. Security Affairs says Common Spirit, a major US hospital chain, had to suspend operations and patient care due to a ransomware attack. Additionally, NBC says a mother is suing Springhill Medical Center in Alabama, alleging the hospital failed to inform her that computers were down due to a cyber attack and that her infant received impaired care as a result, contributing to the child’s death.

It could be physical damage

Imagine that you have sensitive materials that you need to keep at a certain temperature. If a cyber attack disrupts the necessary controls, physical damage can occur.

According to Wired, cyberattacks have caused physical damage in at least two separate incidents. The first involved a digital weapon used against a factory in Iran. The second involved a steel mill in Germany, where a cyberattack prevented a blast furnace from shutting down properly, resulting in massive damage.

Physical damage can also lead to more indirect, less dramatic results. For example, if your leak detection system is down due to a cyber attack, you may not notice a leak until it causes serious water damage. As more of our systems come online, issues like this become a growing risk.

Your business is likely to experience disruption

A cyber attack is never just about computers.

  • Dealing with the cyber attack will require resources. After an attack, you must take steps to determine the extent of the damage, comply with data breach notification laws, and restore your systems. This requires time and money that your organization could use for other things. Nationwide found that many companies grossly underestimate the time and cost of recovering from cyber attacks.
  • Cyber ​​attacks can also damage your organization’s reputation. When customers find out that their data has been compromised due to an attack on your company, they will likely blame you for not protecting their data. State data breach laws may require you to pay for credit monitoring for victims of the breach.
  • A cyber attack can hurt your bottom line. When you add up the reputational damage and lost resources, this is hardly surprising. The National Bureau of Economic Research says sales growth for large companies drops 3.4% on average after a cyber attack.

Making cyber security a priority

Cyber ​​attacks are a serious threat – and business leaders should not underestimate the potential for harm. Strong cyber security measures are a necessity. Organizations should also ensure they have the right cyber insurance to help them respond to an attack. Do you have questions about your cyber risks and coverage? Contact BNC.




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