5 Business Impacts of a Cyber Security Breach

16/3/23, 11:00 am

It’s part of a CISO’s job to be aware of the risks and costs associated with a data breach - but what about the rest of the senior leadership team? In some cases, it’s difficult for executives to comprehend both the short-term and long-term ramifications. Given CISOs’ expertise, they have an opportunity to step in to educate key stakeholders and protect the business. It’s important to ensure that the entire C-suite realises what they could lose in a serious security event.

1. Loss of continuity

A bad breach could hold business-critical data and systems hostage, disrupt them, or destroy them, making basic operations impossible. The publicised ransomware attacks of 2021, and the distributed denial-of-service attack on Microsoft illustrate the complexity and fallout of serious attacks.

2. Loss of revenue

Leaders need to be aware of the massive financial impacts that result from a breach. It’s not just the costs of retrieving data, or investing hours to rectify the situation, or losing profits as vital systems remain offline. It could include paying reparations to victims and fines to regulators.

3. Loss of service

There’s an entire ecosystem of internal and external stakeholders that depend on the products and services an organisation provides — and that includes employees, partners, contractors, and customers. A cyberattack will impact all of these groups; executives need to know what their contractual obligations are and how they’ll be penalised for failing to meet them.

4. Loss of reputation

A breach will impact an organisation’s revenue and profitability even when it is contained, operations resume, and service is restored. The deficit of public trust that results from a breach represents a significant long-term risk.

5. Loss of opportunity

In a breach, 38% of an organisation’s financial losses7 are lost business opportunities, and they come in a variety of forms. Customer turnover can increase. Lost revenue can limit investment potential — or damaged value and reputation can drive up the investment it takes to attract and acquire opportunities.

While it may seem negative to raise awareness of these risks, it’s essential to remember that the role and contributions of the CISO are fundamentally positive, proactive, and forward-looking. An assume-breach mindset is not about existing in a heightened state of anxiety or panic; it’s about maintaining focus on business productivity, profitability, and long-term value. And one of the top benefits a CISO brings to the table is a sense of confidence; preparedness is fundamental to peace of mind.

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Whitepaper: A CISO's Guide to Communicating Risk

Written by Exabeam, an NEC Cyber Security partner and Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader for SIEM, the whitepaper details the key angles of risk communication for CISO’s, including:

  • What executives need to understand about the threat landscape
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  • Essential elements of an executive incident response
  • Why collaboration is key in a crisis
  • How CISOs can introduce the “assume-breach” mindset to their C-suite peers

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