Cyber-attacks: How are Australian businesses being affected?

It’s hard to avoid any mention of cyber-attacks and their severe impacts for Australian businesses, especially when you consider that cybercrime has doubled over the past 12 months. Realistically, it’s only a matter of time before your business is the target of an attack (if it hasn’t experienced one already).

From our experience, there are the two main reasons for the alarming rise in attacks:

  1. Workers are more mobile than ever before, often using laptops, smartphones and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices outside the office and away from secure networks – and risking bringing infected malware back to the business.
  2. The increased number of devices we use and the greater complexity of our engagement with IT puts more pressure on the basics. This increases vulnerability and attackers know this. Passwords, backups and security provisioning all fall into this category.

So what exactly is a cyber-attack?

When it comes to cyber-attacks, we define these as attempts by cybercriminals to damage or destroy a computer network or system. And when it comes to businesses, a very common form of attack is using ransomware – where the attacker will often encrypt important data or information and then ask for money in order to release it back to the owner.

Phishing is another hacking technique, and banks are usually fending this off on a daily basis. This refers to attempts to steal passwords by posing as a trusted party, in order to infiltrate IT systems and gain access to bank accounts.

DDoS (Distributed Denial of Services) is also on the rise, where hackers flood a network with useless traffic and requests, meaning a particular service (or services) is then unable to function.

Why are Australian businesses such likely targets?

It’s simple – Australian businesses have money. We have a strong economy and we are also relatively fast adopters of new technology that helps us do our jobs in an effective, efficient manner. Unfortunately, this gives cybercriminals the perfect opportunity to carry out attacks and come out with the desired result – money.

What can a data breach mean for Australian businesses?

The bad news is, there is a whole string of things that can result from a cyber-attack. You could be exposed to identity theft, fraud or extortion, your website could be defaced, you might be a victim of instant messaging abuse, or your intellectual property could be stolen.

Data is a common target, which means you could lose access to everything you need for your business to function, and you may never get it back. There is also the issue of private customer information being taken and used against you, or against your clients, and that could open you up to a raft of legal consequences.

What is the typical outcome of a cyber-attack?

Although everything above sounds intimidating, how does it directly affect your business in terms of operations?

We’ve seen cyber-attacks cause significant downtime and high costs for redoing lost work – a serious inconvenience and interruption of workflows – and, more often than not, financial loss.

In fact, IBM Security’s 2017 X-Force Threat Intelligence Index uncovered a 556% increase last year globally – from 600 million to four billion records – in the number of security breaches.

Spam numbers also increased 400% last year. Forty-four percent of spam contained malicious attachments, and 85% of those contained ransomware.

Do your IT systems have what it takes to fend off a cyber-attack? See our Sundata Security infographic to learn more about protecting your business from possible attacks.

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