Today, no organization is safe from being hacked, as SMEs, large groups and government administrations are targeted. A simple security breach that is not taken seriously can have serious consequences for companies. Gone is the image of the teenage hacker, alone in his room, looking for a dose of adrenaline. Today, hackers can go so far as to form structured organized groups whose resale of personal and confidential data makes it possible to finance their activities. For businesses, there is only one solution: preparation. Because the question is not whether they will be attacked, but when. And when that day comes, it is better that their defense system is up to the task.
Cyberattacks that are growing due to the evolution of the digital ecosystem
It was in 1955 that we see the first appearance of the word “hacking” at MIT, in the United States. From then on, the rhythm of the attacks only accelerated, with operations having a strong media echo. This was the case in 1994, with the hacking of the Citibank computer system in New York by a Russian engineer from Saint Petersburg, which caused $10 million to disappear from the bank’s accounts. In 2013, 30,000 websites are hacked every day. A year later, the data of 150 million eBay user accounts is stolen. Today, a cyberattack occurs every 39 seconds around the world. This situation can be explained by several reasons:
- The accelerated transition to remote working with the COVID-19 pandemic: organizations had to quickly deploy solutions to enable remote access to IT services and applications, in order to ensure business continuity, without taking into account the question of cybersecurity
- Limited awareness and training for employees, who remain the first point of entry for hackers
- A professionalization of attacks with increasingly substantial means, sometimes requiring long weeks of investigation in terms of social engineering
- Increasing automation between software: an interconnection that can lead to a domino effect in systems that no one really masters anymore
- The development of the IoT with little or badly secured systems, also allowing access to connected objects and their data
- Pervasive mobility that opens up new opportunities for hackers via attacks using rogue mobile apps or corrupt Wi-Fi access
Depending on its defense system, an attacked company can face several well-known vulnerabilities, such as:
- Ransomware : Software that encrypts files on a computer and requires payment of a ransom in cryptocurrency to unlock
- Massive data theft: theft, exploitation and resale of personal data used to finance the illicit activities of cybercriminals
- Advanced Persistent Threat : long and discreet infiltrations aimed at recovering documents or confidential data targeting governments, banks, media or any company with a strategic stake (defense, research, transport, etc.)
- DoS attack (denial of service): voluntary overload of a server’s capacities to paralyze it, which can have significant consequences for merchant sites
- Mobile hacking : access to personal and confidential data from an unsecured mobile terminal or via the installation of a corrupted application
While these vulnerabilities are important, they are not the most dangerous, because cybersecurity professionals know how they work and what causes them. The ultimate risk for companies remains the so-called “zero day” vulnerabilities. These are unresolved computer vulnerabilities, not known to the developers, and which are easy to exploit to take everyone by surprise. For example, in 2014, the hack of Sony Pictures, which led to the unveiling of 5 films before their official release, was caused by a zero-day flaw.
The consequences of cyberattacks for companies
Cyberattacks represent a global, worldwide problem, without any turnkey solution, which has evolved over the past few years and which remains highly unpredictable. Digital risk is protean and difficult to define, because it is caused by a plurality of actors. What qualifies it is its consequence: the theft, loss, alteration or destruction of information calling into question the operation and the physical or technological integrity of the company. Examples:
- A theft of personal data
- The disappearance of customer files
- The paralysis of the computer system
- Identity theft
- Unauthorized fund transfers
- Acts of economic espionage
- The immobilization of the production tool
Faced with a cyberattack, companies must also pay direct and indirect costs. This is particularly the case for lawyers’ fees and legal costs, regulatory compliance, costs related to technical investigations and post-incident data security, but also the risk of loss of business with customers, loss of stakeholder confidence and the many impacts associated with business disruption. Investing in cybersecurity therefore aims to better manage these risks with the right talent in order to limit their impacts and consequences.
Article via: Leonardo da Vinci Institute.