If the cost of cybercrime were measured as a country, in 2021 alone it would be the third-largest economy with over $6 trillion GDP (only losing out to the USA and China). It’s already worth more than the combined economies of the UK and France... and it’s still growing. As cybersecurity threats continue to expand and evolve, protecting against them has become one of the most urgent political, business and social issues. If this is something that even remotely concerns you, keep reading because sooner or later, cyber threats are going to affect you too (if they haven’t already!)
World Wide Warning
The ongoing evolution of cybercrime is one of the most significant challenges of our time. The threat continues to grow and the security industry is evolving in response. Losses to cybercrime are expected to grow to $10.5 trillion annually by 2025 (up from $3 trillion in 2015). This represents the “greatest transfer of economic wealth in history,” stated Embroker’s report.
“Cybersecurity ventures expect that the cost of cybercrime will soon exceed that caused by natural disasters.”
A global cybercrime wave is sweeping over the web at an exponential rate as criminals adapt to new technologies, changing threat models, and approaches by law enforcement. The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred an unprecedented rise in cybercrime. Internet use has grown sharply as a consequence of the shift to remote work, and consequently, data theft and hacking have increased 600% since the outbreak, according to a UN report.
“Warren Buffet called cybercrime the number one problem with mankind, noting cyberattacks are a bigger threat to humanity than nuclear weapons.”
Although technology has made it easier for us to run our lives and businesses, it also has the very real potential to destabilize the economy of a city, state or even an entire country. The United States itself has been hard-hit by cyber violations several times. In 2018, an FBI agent who was involved in cyber intrusion investigations told The Wall Street Journal that every American citizen should expect that all their personal data has already been stolen and is up for grabs on the dark web. As more and more large corporations and government agencies are hacked, it is inevitable that the demand for cybersecurity products and services will continue to grow exponentially.
To the average Joe, hacking huge multinationals feels far removed from their own daily reality and they may struggle to see the relevance to them. Worryingly, there is a new, much darker trend emerging that could affect literally anyone, regardless of their status. Hackers have traditionally attacked government organizations and big companies, but now, they are far more frequently going after the “low-hanging fruit” in the form of smaller organizations with lower security levels. As cybercriminals increasingly leverage cyber technologies for criminal activities, they expose small companies (and even individuals) to greater risk. As no one can claim the luxury of “feeling safe” online now, we need to recognize that cybercrime is a common threat to us all and it’s about time we stand firm and take positive steps towards fighting it.
Is Your Business Held to Ransom?
“In 2021, a business fell victim to a ransomware attack every 11 seconds.”
There are thousands of hackers, cybercriminals, and cyber-threat actors out there who are intent on hacking and stealing your data. Cybersecurity has become a top concern of businesses of all sizes. From the Fortune 500 to one-man ventures, most businesses have experienced a breach at some point.
“The statistics are alarming. Half of all small-to-midsize businesses experience cyberattacks, and 60% of them go out of business within six months of being attacked.”
When it comes to cyberattacks, small-to-medium-sized businesses are more vulnerable than the big players. Big businesses have traditionally accounted for the vast majority of the cybersecurity market due to their large budgets and dedicated personnel. Smaller organizations quite often simply don’t have the financial resources to protect themselves as effectively, and as a consequence, find themselves unable to defend against attacks.
Did you know that in 2021:
- 85% of breaches involved a human element,
- 61% were due to stolen or compromised user credentials,
- social engineering was observed in over 35% of incidents.
The Internet of Things is Changing the Security Landscape
The rapid development of 5G will enable devices to stay interconnected more than ever before. This will ultimately expand the scope for the Internet of Things and AI, which will certainly provoke a higher rate of cybercrime as more and more activity becomes reliant on technology.
In 2021, there are estimated to be more than 50 billion connected devices in the world (and that number will only continue to grow). This introduces new opportunities for criminals to exploit, but it also presents new security challenges.
As the lines between “work” and “home” continue to blur, people may place more trust in their own IoT-enabled devices than they do in their employer’s network: after all, you’d much rather send a message on your own state-of-the-art cell phone than the old brick they tried to give you in the office, right? This creates new security challenges for organizations. Companies must not only have a robust security infrastructure in place, but they must educate their employees and customers about the potential security risks inherent in using their own devices too.
Organizations and entrepreneurs must make security a priority, with both businesses and individuals needing to understand their security responsibilities – right now.
The Long-Term Cost of a Data Breach
The real price of a cyber incident is not solely quantified with the direct cost of recovering from it, but also the indirect costs of the long-term recovery required for the business to recuperate and get back on its feet. The aftermath can extend for months, or even years, and the costs may include significant expenses that companies don’t even realize initially and certainly were not prepared for.
In real terms, the cost of a cyberattack includes:
- stolen money
- lost data
- potentially lost contracts
- additional work of IT department
- legal expenses
- restoration of hacked systems
- loss of productivity
- business disruption
- theft of personal/ financial data
- revenue losses from company/ system downtime
- notification costs
- reputational harm
A Threat to All
The cyber threat is shifting and our adversaries are adapting. Attackers, whether individuals or criminal groups are diverting their attention away from high-profile, high-value targets to smaller, less visible prey.
The growing prevalence of cybercrime is putting businesses, governments, and individuals at risk around the world. No one can predict where the next cyber heist will take place, yet everyone must be cautious and prepared. The question is not “if”, but “when” you will be hacked.
What Steps Can You Take Next?
To conduct effective assessments, organizations must partner with a recognized certification body or third-party that will carry out regular assessments and provide their results to the organization.
The auditor can also identify gaps between an organization’s self-assessment and recognized industry assessments and, additionally, can recommend specific cybersecurity improvement priorities, such as implementing specific technology or hiring specific skill sets.
Have you taken the necessary steps to protect your business from malicious users and external threats? Do you have the necessary tools, software, and expertise?
Book a free online consultation with our cyber security experts.
Author: Przemysław Szczurek