Caught off guard by a phishing attack? What’s the worst that could happen? Well, you could lose your data, your money, or even your customers. Phishing attacks are remarkably simple and easy to carry out, yet their consequences could be devastating.
Here in Australia, phishing attacks are among some of the most commonly reported scams. And unfortunately, their prevalence can often undermine the severity of the threat. It’s important to realise that even though phishing attacks are frequent, the potential for damage is extremely high.
The consequences of phishing
If you’ve been keeping up with our blog, you’ll already have a good idea about what a phishing attack looks like. But what can an attack do? What impact can it have on a business and its operations?
A phishing attack could result in…
1. Ransomware installations
According to the Australian Institute of Criminology, most ransomware installations come from a phishing attack: “Ransomware attacks often begin through phishing, in which emails are sent out to individuals with the aim of deceiving them into clicking on a malicious link or opening a file.” When ransomware is downloaded, it prevents access to critical networks or files until a ransom is paid.
2. Loss of access to crucial data
Phishing attacks may be designed to sabotage computer systems and business networks, preventing users from accessing critical business data, files, and documents required for day-to-day operations. This can have a significant effect on an organisation’s ability to serve customers and generate revenue until a solution is identified, potentially resulting in financial and reputational losses.
As phishing involves a victim volunteering personal information, theft is a common consequence. Depending on the type of attack, an organisation could lose intellectual property, money, or even its identity. By gaining access to passwords or accounts, hackers may be able to unlock confidential data that could help them steal identities, posing as the business to access financial and other resources.
4. Reputational damage
Phishing attacks can look very realistic, and it can sometimes be seriously challenging to tell an attack apart from an authentic request for information. Despite this, falling for a scam doesn’t look good for the business. Existing customers may become concerned that their own data has been compromised, while new leads may be deterred from working with a business that’s had cyber security issues.
5. Greater risk in the future
Perhaps some of the greatest damage a phishing attack can do is to leave a business even more vulnerable in the future. In some situations, businesses may be targeted under a ‘multi-phase’ phishing attack. This means that criminals begin with a small-scale attack to identify businesses lacking digital security procedures, before launching a larger-scale attack in the future.
Don’t let this happen to you
The consequences of a phishing attack can be devastating. But you’re not helpless. You don’t have to sit around and wait for one to happen. Although risk can never be 100% eradicated, it can be significantly reduced with regular Security Awareness Training for your team.
If you want to know more about protecting your business from the damage that phishing attacks can do, get in touch. We help organisations develop robust processes that keep them secure.