The True Cost of a Cyber Attack


05 Nov 2015

The True Cost of a Cyber Attack

Cyber Attacks can be immensely costly to a breached business. As-well-as a tarnished reputation, the financial cost to an organisation can be massive and be an issue long after a attack has taken place.

A string of high profile cyber-attacks took place in October with the cyber-attack against internet provider TalkTalk being the most publicised. British Gas and Vodafone also suffered from negative headlines, further highlighting the need for companies to have robust cyber security measures in place. The headlines in the media will have no doubt knocked the confidence of customers signed up with those companies and will likely result in financial losses too, either from customers leaving or in the cost of implementing damage control measures.

One incident that highlights just how costly a cyber-attack can be to an organisation was the cyber-attack against Target. The American retail company suffered a cyber security breach in 2013 and has been paying the price ever since.

The company was breached in November 2013 after someone installed malware in its security and payments system. The malware was designed to steal the details of every credit card used at Target’s 1,797 US stores. Whenever a customer went to pay for anything by card the malware captured the card number and stored it onto a Target server that had been taken over by the hacker(s).

The breach resulted in the theft of 40 million credit card numbers and 70 million addresses, phone numbers, and other pieces of personal information.

The cyberattack cost Target $162 million, but that cost is likely to continue to rise after a Federal Judge rejected Target’s bid to halt a lawsuit by banks seeking to recoup the money they spent on reimbursing fraudulent charges. The cost of issuing new credit and debit cards was also huge for the banks. The final cost of the breach could reach into the billions of Dollars.

A more recent example of just how costly a cyber security breach can be was Morrisons. Last year, a disgruntled former employee breached the company’s cyber defences and leaked the personal details of thousands of Morrisons employees. The leak saw bank, salary and National Insurance details being sent to data sharing websites and news outlets.

As a result, more than 2,000 of the company’s employees are suing it in what is believed to be the biggest ever claim in relation to a data breach in the UK.  The incident has harmed the company’s reputation and has harmed its share value.

The true cost of a cyber-attack is often far greater than the costs we see in the media. As in Target’s case the financial implications of an attack can spread to other organisations, not to mention the cost to customers that become victims and suffer monetary losses of their own. The money that then has to be spent on introducing new cyber security measures, training of staff and the overhaul to company policies all adds up.

With 90% of companies reporting security breaches of some kind over the past year an organisation has to take cyber security seriously. Investing in staff training and tougher security measures is a part of the process to protect an organisation, but that means little if there is no plan to deal with the aftermath of an attack. By having stringent policies in place a company can limit the impact and be able to respond to a cyber security breach.

It is inevitable that there will be other attacks like those carried out against TalkTalk, Target and many others. Now is the time to take action and put a robust cyber security plan in place.

Don’t become a target, invest in protection and seek the advice of the professionals at PGI Cyber.

For more information on the services and training offered by PGI give us a call on 0207 887 2699or email us at enquiries@pgitl.com

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