From “WannaCry” and “NotPetya” to the massive Equifax breach, cyber crimes are on the rise and have the capacity to cause devastating harm to the economy. According to a recent White House report, malicious cyber activity cost the U.S. economy $109 billion in 2016. Experts estimate that the global cost to the economy could be as much as $600 billion annually.
For attacks on the United States critical infrastructure, such as financial institutions, information technology or the defense industrial base, a cyber attack could threaten the security of United States citizens and the ability of the government to communicate essential emergency information.
In short, the stakes have never been higher.
Read on to learn more about recent findings.
February 2018 White House Report
According to a February 2018 White House report, threats are increasingly coming from nation-state hackers using tools such as ransomware to demand money in exchange for data. The main players are Russia, China and North Korea who are suspected of targeting United States companies in retaliation against sanctions.
Using sophisticated technology, cyber attackers may try to access proprietary intellectual property, engage in business destruction of one or more companies, or seek profit for the theft of personally identifiably information (PII). As was the case with the massive Equifax breach, over 140 million personal records including social security numbers, addresses, names, and birthdates were breached and the attack was not even noticed until months later.
Rise of Cryptocurrency
With the rise of cryptocurrency, hackers are able to demand bitcoins, an untraceable currency, before surrendering a company’s data in the case of a ransomware attack. Bitcoins are demanded immediately, often without reassurances that the data will be returned. After the global and debilitating “WannaCry” hack last year, many companies took steps to set up bitcoin accounts and stockpile the currency in anticipation of another ransomware attack.
Cyber attacks are even more devastating for small to medium-sized businesses, especially those whose business relies on a single product. Theft of the intellectual property associated with that product could bankrupt the firm. For larger firms, particularly publicly traded firms, a breach could significantly impact a company’s stock price and cause sometimes irreversible reputational damage. For example, Equifax’s stock price fell 33 percent after news broke about the breach and shares are still recovering.
How to Protect Your Business
To protect against these attacks, companies need to have the latest patches and the best protection in place. Effective cybersecurity means complete situational awareness of all endpoints and devices at all times. It means restricting access to sensitive data to as few employees as possible and instituting proper authentication policies.
More importantly, however, companies should have a plan in place in the case of a cyber attack. Legal representation, a public relations strategy and a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities in the event of a cyber attack should be identified and known by all employees to enable an immediate response.
Finding Experts That Can Help
Have you been the victim of a cyber attack? Do you have a protection plan in place? Contact us at Sagacent Technologies for help. We provide 24/7 network security, support, and monitoring and will provide you with a free network assessment to determine your risks.
Sagacent Technologies offers technology management and support, including proactive/preventative maintenance, onsite and offsite data back-ups, network and security audits, mobility solutions, disaster planning and emergency business resumption services. The company serves clients of 10 to 150 employees within the Silicon Valley region.