Businesses face a wide variety of cyber threats. Some of these threats have short-term impacts, while others can render an organization unable to operate for a short time or even put it out of business entirely.
When considering threats to business continuity, organizations need to weigh the pros and cons of deploying solutions designed to minimize the impacts of certain cyber threats. Deploying data security and monitoring solutions and adding load balancing for crucial services can go a long way toward ensuring that an organization is resilient against attack.
Threats to Business Continuity
As organizations’ networks are increasingly connected to the Internet, cyberattacks represent a serious threat to business continuity. Potential threats include data loss, data breaches, and Denial of Service (DoS) attacks.
- Data Loss
Loss of important business data can cripple an organization’s ability to operate. For example, the loss of a customer database may render an organization incapable of processing new transactions or a loss of inventory tracking data could leave an organization with no knowledge of the current status of all of their inventory, including what is in stock, what should be shipped to a customer, etc.
As organizations become increasingly dependent on the Internet and connect crucial databases to public-facing web applications, the threat of data loss is growing. A ransomware attack that manages to infect an organization’s databases could leave the business with the choice between paying an expensive ransom or rebuilding their records from scratch. The same level of access that gives an attacker the ability to pull off a data breach could also allow them to modify an organization’s records. Without a robust data access tracking solution in place, an organization may not be aware that such a modification occurred and may need to spend a large amount of time manually searching through the data to identify potentially incorrect data.
In general, many organizations are not prepared to deal with data loss. Only 15% of organizations could recover from severe data loss within an hour, and 40% could lose a day to data loss. These delays can have a significant impact on an organization’s ability to remain profitable after a data loss. As a result, it is crucial that organizations deploy security solutions capable of protecting their access to valuable business data. This includes both protecting against attack by deploying data monitoring and access control solutions and minimizing the potential impact of an incident resulting in data loss by using automatic backup solutions to ensure that a recent copy of the data can be quickly accessed and restored.
- Data Breaches
Beyond the threat of data loss, organizations also need to face the threat of data breaches. While the immediate impacts of a data breach to business continuity may be minor, data breaches can have a long-term impact. In fact, 60% of small businesses go out of business within 6 months of a data breach.
The impacts of a data breach to business continuity are largely driven by the cost of the breach to the organization. In the short term, organizations need to deal with lost productivity and the additional expenses caused by investigating and remediating the incident. Longer-term impacts can include fines levied by data protection regulators and the loss of customers due to the damage that the breach causes to brand reputation.
Protecting the organization’s ability to continue operating includes protecting the sensitive data in its care. Defending against data breaches requires many of the same measures as protecting against data loss: ensuring that the organization has visibility into every repository of its sensitive data and controlling access to this data so that any attempted unauthorized access to the data is detected and responded to.
- Denial of Service Attacks
Denial of Service attacks are designed to prevent an organization’s servers from responding to legitimate requests. These can be performed in a variety of different ways. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are designed to overwhelm a server’s ability to respond to legitimate requests by flooding it with more data than it is capable of processing. Other DoS attacks take other approaches, but the end result is the same: the server cannot respond to requests.
In these situations, having load balancing infrastructure in place is vital to protecting an organization’s ability to continue doing business in the face of an attack. A good load balancing system will not only distribute the load of a DDoS attack, making it more difficult for an attacker to bring down a server in the first place, but will also detect if a server is down and seamlessly reroute traffic to other servers until the impacted server is capable of resuming operations. This transparent handling of server failures ensures that a customer is not impacted by the incident.
Staying in Business
The cyber threat landscape is rapidly accelerating. As organizations are becoming increasingly reliant on technology, they need to consider the potential impacts of cyber threats on their ability to continue operating.
Events like a severe data loss, data breach, or Denial of Service attack can put an organization out of business either temporarily or permanently. Many organizations are not prepared to deal with these types of attacks. However, by carefully considering the risks and deploying simple mitigations, these organizations can become much more resilient against attack.