It is a well-known fact that, every time a security threat occurs in any organization, it makes it to the media and thus causing reputation damage and loss of business. We have seen many instances of such cases in the recent past.
In fact a very recent case, which was reported in the beginning of the year was with Vermont utility. According to news reports, which later proved to be false, Burlington Electric had found malicious software on a computer that was not connected to its grid control systems. Moreover, the malicious software found on Burlington Electric Company laptop matched with those on malware found in the Democratic National Committee computers that the US government has blamed on a specific country.[i]
Though the news was later debunked to being ‘erroneous’[ii], the news was initially covered in a multitude of news outlets. The fact remains that cybersecurity attacks continue to make news, negatively attack your business and brand reputation.
Unfortunately, the ground reality is that Hacking attempts are becoming more common, and the rollout of new technologies has created further vulnerabilities. It is important that businesses safeguard themselves in order to ensure that they stay out of negative limelight. In January 2014, Target admitted that hackers used malicious software to break into its networks and access credit and debit card information directly from Target’s checkout lanes through the holiday shopping season. News of the breach drastically affected the retail giant diminishing holiday sales causing Target to eventually fire its CEO in the breach’s wake. The hackers responsible for the 2013 Target data breach that exposed payment information on 40 million customers had nothing to stop them from accessing every cash register in every Target store.[iii]
Today with the world going ‘digital’, the number of potential devices, just waiting to be hacked are increasing. Experts predict that by 2020 there will be 200 billion connected devices, which in turn could result into increased probability of devices being vulnerable to such attacks.
We are also witnessing the rise of smart cities. For Instance, Saudi Arabia is investing $70 million to build four new smart cities, while in South Africa, a $7.4 billion smart city project is already underway. By 2020, the market for smart cities is predicted to reach $1 trillion, according to Frost & Sullivan, a consulting firm.[iv]
In such a scenario, imagine the magnitude of an attack on smart cities or connected infrastructure, which has implications on citizens. The negative impact this could have on brand reputation of state governments could be devastating. But an attack is indeed, possible. Last year, Cesar Cerrudo, an Argentine security researcher and chief technology officer at IOActive Labs, demonstrated how 200,000 traffic control sensors installed in major hubs like Washington; New York; New Jersey; San Francisco; Seattle; Lyon, France; and Melbourne, Australia, were vulnerable to attack. Mr. Cerrudo showed how information coming from these sensors could be intercepted from 1,500 feet away — or even by drone — because one company had failed to encrypt its traffic.[v]
Hence, it is important today for organizations and even government bodies to ensure that they are able to safeguard themselves from cyberattacks. Such vulnerabilities have huge implications on business and can cause irreparable damage to brand reputation. Stay ahead of cyber threats and, as the headline say, don’t be in the news for the wrong reasons.