The impact of reputational damage following a cyber attack
What harm might a successful cyberattack cause you and your business?
Depending on the nature of the attack, you could find you lose access to important documents and information and that your core services are disrupted. Or you may have money or other assets stolen, or even find your systems are locked and held to ransom.
All these things can result in a business facing an immediate (and potentially substantial) financial hit. Not to mention, a regulatory headache.
But it’s not the only way a company might be impacted.
What could be even more damaging in the long run is the impact that such an attack has on your reputation.
The impact of reputational damage
If you’ve suffered a data breach, then one of the ways your reputation might be tarnished is in relation to the opinions of your suppliers and customers.
For sectors such as law, finance and health, which regularly handle highly sensitive data, trust is everything. A breach – even if small – could prove fatal, damaging reputation and destroying trust for the long term.
Reputational damage stemming from a cybersecurity breach could also set off a chain reaction. Firstly, the breach might erase the trust of clients who have handed over their most confidential data to you. Shareholders and investors may also react unfavourably. And potential customers may quickly look elsewhere. The domino effect being a loss of clients and revenue, a lack of new prospects and an uphill battle for recovery.
Individuals and their reputation
What is also important to note here is that reputational damage doesn’t just happen to a business or organisation. For individuals, such as barristers and legal clerks, the impact of a data breach could prove fatal and a once promising career be left in tatters.
So, what steps can you take to best manage the cyber threat?
Think Education and Vigilance
- Be sceptical and think twice before clicking on any link – no matter who the email is from. Exercise caution when opening email attachments, clicking on links, or downloading files. Verify the source and authenticity of any requests for personal information or financial transactions before taking action.
- Stay informed and educate yourself: Keep yourself updated about the latest cybersecurity threats and best practices. Stay informed about common scams and techniques used by cybercriminals. Attend cybersecurity webinars, read security blogs, and follow reputable sources for the latest information.
Be Protective of Personal Information
- Protect your personal information: Be cautious about sharing sensitive information online, especially on social media platforms.
- Avoid providing personal details unless it is necessary and with a trusted source. Regularly review your privacy settings on social media to control the information you share.
- Regularly review your online accounts: Periodically review your online accounts for any suspicious activity. Check for any unrecognised logins or changes to your account settings. If you notice anything unusual, change your passwords immediately and contact the respective service provider.
- Monitor your financial accounts regularly: Regularly review your bank and credit card statements for any suspicious activity. Report any unauthorized transactions to your financial institution immediately.
- Use a credit monitoring facility like Experian (others are available)
- Use secure websites for online transactions: When making online purchases or sharing financial information, ensure that the website is secure. Look for “https://” at the beginning of the URL, which indicates a secure connection, and a padlock icon in the browser address bar.
- Keep software up to date: Regularly update your operating system, web browsers, antivirus software, and other applications. These updates often include security patches that protect against known vulnerabilities.
- Use a reputable antivirus/anti-malware software: Install and regularly update a reliable antivirus program to protect against malware, viruses, and other malicious software. Keep the software’s virus definitions up to date.
- Secure your home network: Change the default username and password for your Wi-Fi router and use strong encryption (WPA2 or higher). Regularly update the router firmware and disable remote administration.
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks for sensitive activities like online banking or shopping. If necessary, use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your connection and protect your data.
- Regularly back up your data: Create backups of important files and store them in a secure location. This practice helps mitigate the impact of ransomware attacks and other data loss incidents.
- Practice safe browsing habits: Be cautious when visiting unfamiliar websites, downloading files, or clicking on pop-up ads. Stick to reputable websites and avoid downloading software from untrusted sources.
- Use multifactor authentication wherever you can
Be Aware of Social Engineering
- Cybercriminals often use social engineering techniques to manipulate individuals into revealing confidential information. Be wary of unsolicited requests for personal or financial information, even if they appear to come from a trusted source. When in doubt, contact the organization directly through official channels to verify the request.
- Don’t overshare on social media
- Be sceptical of impersonation attempts: Social engineers may impersonate someone you know, such as a colleague, friend, or family member, to gain your trust. Always double-check the legitimacy of the communication through an alternative means, like a phone call or face-to-face conversation.
- Be mindful of urgency or pressure tactics: Social engineers often create a sense of urgency or use pressure tactics to rush you into making hasty decisions. Take your time and don’t let anyone force you into providing information or taking immediate actions.
Prevention will always be better than cure and in relation to cybersecurity it is a constant, moving target that needs your ongoing attention. Sadly, your reputation could end up one of the biggest casualties in a successful attack, so it pays to take all steps necessary to minimise the risk.
The cyber threat is complex and it would be impossible to cover off everything here. If you would like to find out more, please drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d be happy to have a chat.