Top 6 Ways Cybercrime Impacts Business
According to reports, around 6% of companies have had to pay a ransom to regain control of their critical IT systems. When a business experiences a cyberattack, it may face increased expenses due to disruptions in operations and changes in its usual business practices. One of the most significant consequences of data breaches is damage to a company's reputation. Such incidents have resulted in companies paying millions to settle claims from affected customers.
As digital data storage is now widely used by businesses and their customers, the risk of cyber theft has increased significantly. These online criminals not only jeopardize sensitive information but also force companies to bear the brunt of heightened cybersecurity expenses, which in turn may burden consumers with inflated prices.
The year 2019 witnessed a staggering $1.8 billion in losses incurred by businesses due to cybercrime, as reported by business insurer Hiscox. No industry remains immune to this menace, with prominent corporations sporting extensive online footprints facing relentless targeting. Particularly affected are companies operating within the energy, financial services, manufacturing, technology, and pharmaceutical sectors, enduring the most severe blows.
Within this context, it is vital to explore how cybercrime detrimentally impacts modern businesses.
Shielding themselves against online criminals requires businesses to dig deep into their pockets. Various expenses arise as companies strive to fortify their defenses, encompassing:
- Investment in cybersecurity technology and expertise.
- Notification expenses are incurred when informing affected parties about breaches.
- Insurance premiums to mitigate potential losses.
- Provision of public relations support to manage the aftermath of an incident.
Furthermore, the emergence of ransomware compounds the financial burden. In 2019 alone, 6% of companies fell victim to such attacks, resulting in a staggering $381 million in losses, according to Hiscox. Ransomware tactics effectively hold companies hostage by denying access to vital IT systems until a ransom is paid to hackers.
To ensure compliance with cybersecurity regulations, businesses may be compelled to engage legal counsel and other experts. In the unfortunate event of an attack, additional funds may be required to cover attorney fees and damages resulting from civil suits filed against the company.
Equifax, a renowned credit bureau, experienced the dire consequences firsthand following a data breach in 2017, which exposed the personal information of 147 million customers. Subsequent litigation forced the company to bear the financial brunt, with a settlement of up to $425 million earmarked for assisting affected individuals.
The repercussions of cyberattacks extend beyond financial damages, encompassing indirect costs that can severely impede a company's operations and result in substantial revenue loss. Cybercriminals employ various tactics to paralyze normal business activities, such as infecting computer systems with malware to erase critical information or implanting malicious code on servers that block website access.
Among the assailants are "hacktivists," who exploit disruptive measures to highlight perceived injustices or advocate for increased transparency. Government agencies and multinational corporations have fallen victim to their actions, as exemplified in 2010 when hackers sympathetic to WikiLeaks retaliated against Mastercard and Visa. These attacks inflicted temporary website crashes, leaving the affected companies grappling with significant operational disruptions.
Changes in Business Operations
The ramifications of cybercrime reach far beyond financial implications, compelling businesses to reassess their practices concerning data collection and storage. Safeguarding sensitive information has become paramount, leading many companies to abandon storing customers' financial and personal data, including credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, and birth dates.
Heightened concerns regarding cybersecurity have driven some businesses to suspend their online stores, apprehensive about their ability to provide adequate protection against cyberattacks. Additionally, customers have become increasingly discerning, seeking transparency and assurance from the businesses they engage with regarding their security measures. Consequently, businesses that openly communicate and implement robust safeguards are more likely to earn customer loyalty and support.
The repercussions of substantial cyberattacks go beyond quantifiable metrics, with companies facing substantial damage to their brand equity. The compromised integrity of a company's IT infrastructure can breed insecurity among customers and suppliers, deterring them from entrusting sensitive information to an organization that has previously experienced breaches.
In 2013, retail behemoth Target (TGT) experienced the consequences firsthand, as a data breach exposed the credit card details of over 40 million customers. The resulting security failure cost the company a hefty $18.5 million settlement and severely damaged its reputation.
Similarly, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) suffered a significant blow in 2014 when criminals targeted its banking customers, compromising data from 76 million household accounts and seven million small business accounts. The breach compromised vital information, including names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses, further exacerbating the reputational damage.
Moreover, research indicates that publicly traded companies often witness a short-term decline in market value following a data breach. A study by security researchers Comparitech analyzed 40 breaches affecting 34 New York Stock Exchange-listed companies. The findings revealed that compromised companies experienced an average share price drop of 3.5%, underperforming the Nasdaq by the same margin.
One of the most detrimental consequences of cyberattacks is the abrupt decline in revenue, as cautious customers seek safer alternatives to protect themselves from cybercrime. Moreover, companies may fall victim to hackers who attempt to extort funds from their targets.
In a notable instance, Sony Pictures encountered a severe breach in 2014, coinciding with the imminent release of the comedy film "The Interview," which humorously portrayed an assassination plot against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The attack resulted in the theft of sensitive data, including embarrassing emails and employee performance evaluations.
While North Korea is widely suspected as the perpetrator, it denied any involvement. In response, Sony Pictures opted to withdraw the film from most theaters, opting for an online release. However, this decision incurred a substantial cost of $30 million, as reported by the National Association of Theater Owners.
Stolen Intellectual Property
When it comes to business, a company's product designs, technologies, and go-to-market strategies are extremely valuable assets. In fact, according to intellectual property advisory Ocean Tomo, intangible assets constituted a remarkable 87% of the value of S&P 500 companies in 2015.
Regrettably, storing such critical intellectual property in the cloud exposes it to the perils of cyberattacks. Alarming statistics reveal that almost 30% of U.S. companies have fallen victim to intellectual property theft, attributed to their Chinese counterparts over the past decade.
As the threat of cyberattacks looms larger and more intricate, safeguarding businesses comes at a considerable expense, potentially straining customer relationships. In this evolving landscape, staying ahead of the ever-advancing cybercrime requires constant vigilance and proactive measures.