Some businesses – usually those that have never experienced any kind of major IT incident – think of cybercrime as an inconvenience. They may believe that if their company is hacked it will cause some disruption and perhaps an embarrassing news story, but that ultimately the breach will have only a minor effect.
However, the truth is that cybercrime can have a huge range of unexpected consequences. Here we take a lot of the real impact of a breach – cybercrime might affect you a lot more than you think.
It loses customer confidence
When you suffer a cyberattack it becomes common knowledge very quickly. Whether your site is taken offline or Google places a ‘hacked site’ warning against you, customers will learn fast that you have been compromised. And when a potential customer hears that you have been breached, they will immediately associate you with the attack, deeming your site to be unsafe to use.
Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) it is also a legal requirement for you to inform any customers whose data has been affected by the breach within 72 hours of becoming aware of the breach. This goes further to lose your confidence with those customers who have already used your services or bought from your site.
It costs you sales
No business wants to lose the confidence of its customers, mostly importantly because it will naturally have an effect on your sales. If – in the eyes of your customers – your site can’t be trusted, they will stop using it and move on to a competitor. This means that before you take anything else into account, you will be losing business simply due to the fact that you have been a victim of cybercrime.
Of course, if the cybercrime takes your website offline, you will also lose any potential transaction over that period – but the more crucial factor is the long-term effect of customers believing that you are not longer safe to buy from.
It costs a lot of money
Cyber attacks can be extremely costly for a variety of reasons. We have already talked about the kind of disruption to trading that will occur when any kind of cybercrime takes place, but it is actually a lot more complicated than that. Firstly, many forms of cybercrime will directly steal money from a business. This could come in the form of a phishing attack on a member of staff, or even a business email compromise attack.
However, there are also other costs to consider such as the financial ramifications of dealing with the hack and securing your business. And of course, any trust that is lost in your partners or suppliers can lead to you losing them.
It weakens your SEO efforts
You might not realise it, but cybercrime can have a serious impact on your search engine optimisation (SEO). There are many reasons for this – firstly, if Google believes your site is hacked, it can place a ‘hacked site’ warning in the listings. Additionally, many hacks will actually alter or steal content from your site, and website content is one of the most important ranking factors in the eyes of all search engines.
Another important factor is downtime. If Google sees that your website is down for a significant period of time, this is a negative ranking factor, and can see your site sliding. Any cybercrime will cause downtime, as you will need to take your site offline in order to fix the issues and return it to normal.
It causes problems with compliance
We have already mentioned the GDPR in this article, and how it can force you to disclose cyber breaches to any affected individuals. However, it is important to remember that compliance with the GDPR and regulations can become an issue if you suffer a cyberattack.
Under the GDPR, businesses are required to take appropriate steps to protect themselves against attacks, in order to secure the private information that they hold on customers. Failing to do can put you at risk of heavy fines from the ICO.
It loses your intellectual property
Another extremely common occurrence during a cyberattack is that intellectual property will be stolen. Given the incredible value of IP to some businesses, such as in technology or pharmaceutical firms, it can be easy to see how stolen IP could make a business unsustainable.
If your organisation relies upon the secrecy of its IP, then you need to make sure you are taking appropriate steps to defend that IP against cybercrime.