The landslide of cyber attacks sweeping across the world is an undeniable reality. We are facing more attacks today than ever before. While website attacks increased by 56% in 2018, businesses have no other choices than securing their presence on the web. This trend already reached the point where the recurring question shouldn’t be any more if your business will be the next target but when and how it will happen.
In this context, understanding how badly hackers can affect your business is the first step towards the solution. From light consequences on your reputation to heavy financial impacts, cyber attacks on your website always have consequences. Some of them might even hold individuals personally liable.
Personal or sensitive data loss – A hacked website harms your business when it results in personal or sensitive data losses. Everybody knows that cyber criminals are particularly interested in credit card information. However, trade secrets, financial records, strategic plans, social security numbers or banking information are also part of sensitive data that you do not want to go in wrong hands. Hackers will try to sell them online, usually on the dark web. Or, they might attempt to ransom it back to your business.
Reputation damage – A hacked website will certainly raise legitimate suspicions on the capacity of your company to keep customers data safely. Although the consequences are difficult to estimate financially, examples of damaged reputation flourish almost every day in the newspapers. Surviving the incident is costly and regaining trust takes a lot of time.
Website data loss – Sometimes, hackers don’t even have a purpose to steal information. Youngest hackers (script kiddies) just want to impress their friends by running some script that will simply wipe out your entire website and any data associated with it, including orders, emails, and invoices. Without recent clean backups of your website, this will freeze your online business operations for weeks or months.
Website cleaning and repair costs – In case you cannot restore your website from a clean backup, you will need to hire a cyber security expert to solve your problem. Depending on the type of malware that have compromised your website, it can be very expensive to closely analyze your businesses website to find how an attack occurred and correct the issue. This is far more expensive than hiring cyber security experts to patch vulnerabilities before an attack has occurred.
Website slowdown – Another reason a cyber criminal may attempt to hack into your website is to store thousands of files, such as pirated music and movies. Some hackers may also add spam pages to your hacked website. These pages usually contain advertisements for illicit drugs and pornography. You might not even see the presence of these types of pages or pirated files but it will negatively impact your search engine rankings. Once again, this translates into less traffic and less incomes generated by your website.
Chain reaction – Certain types of cyber attacks can be launched from your website to cause damage to third parties. This occurs when a security hole in your website is a way for hackers to reach other websites hosted on the same server. This may leave you liable for the damage that is caused to other businesses websites.
While 64 percent of organizations hire penetration testers to conduct tests at least annually, so as many as 36 percent of organizations are taking unnecessary risks by ignoring this important security best practice. Penetration testing is the most efficient way to find out if your organization’s security is ready to face a cyber attack. Even when your security team has penetration testing experience, many experts believe that a third party coming to your network with fresh eyes is more likely to spot potential problems. Familiarity with your own network can actually leave you blinded to possible security vulnerabilities and a hacked website harms your business.