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  • Writer's pictureAngela Sanna

The cost of living crisis is fuelling a surge in cyber attacks on UK businesses: Get secure now

Updated: Jan 6, 2023

When the economy is on shaky ground, a rise in cybercrime follows. But this time criminals are upping the sophistication of their attacks, experts warn.

The correlation between times of economic uncertainty and an uptick in cybercrime is well documented. The current cost-of-living crisis is no different. Criminals look to exploit the financial hardship of individuals and businesses alike with scams to lure unsuspecting victims.

An alarming 39% of UK businesses are aware of a cyberattack in their systems over the past 12 months, according to the government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2022, a figure that remains consistent with previous years of the survey. Yet, the effectiveness of their attacks is on the increase.

The most common threat encountered was phishing attempts (83%). Around one in five (21%) identified a more sophisticated attack type, such as a denial of service, malware, or ransomware attack. Despite its relatively low prevalence, respondents to the survey cited ransomware as a major threat, with 56% of businesses having a policy not to pay ransoms.

To stop your business from being the next target of a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, here’s what you can avoid when investing in appropriate cyber security.

Lost Time and Money

Repairing a website that has been subject to a DDoS attack takes time. It can also take money.

If you don’t know what’s happened to your site and haven’t prepared for the possibility of an attack, you could end up having to rebuild your site from scratch If you didn’t take a backup of your site, what are you going to restore it from? And if you don’t fix it quickly, the attack could have a long-term impact on your site’s SEO and business performance.

While the site is down, you could be losing money in revenue, especially if your site is an ecommerce store. And you may have to pay money to hire a security expert or web enveloper to rebuild your site and make sure it’s protected from future attacks.

All of this emphasizes how important it is to protect your site from DDoS attacks.

Loss of valuable clients and customers

A DDoS attack is notorious for destroying the trust between a business and its clientele. As a business, there is nothing more valuable than the confidence received from your customers. However, once your network is corrupted by a DDoS attack, it won’t just be your servers that will need repairing.

The loss of trust and confidence of customers is the most damaging consequence of a DDoS. Network or website service availability is crucial to ensure customer trust and satisfaction – when an end user is denied access to your website/web service, or if latency issues obstruct the user experience, it immediately impacts the bottom line. Small-scale attacks can also be deadly by impacting network performance, ultimately ruining user experience. Loss in customer trust is not a technical issue, it’s a tactical issue – avoiding this crisis should be your priority.

Up-to-date cyber security can make sure this never happens and you continue to retain the trust of all your customers.

Slowed down business systems

It isn’t just websites that are vulnerable to DDoS attacks, and nor are they the only type of digital asset that has an impact on how customers, clients and business partners perceive your business. In the modern world, everything from EPoS tills to company accounts systems, VoIP telephone lines to IoT sensors run on networks.

When those networks are blasted with unwanted traffic from DDoS attacks, your tills and card payment devices stop working as fast as you need them to, leading to queues forming and customers becoming disgruntled. Underperforming ERP and finance systems can lead to delays placing orders or paying invoices, upsetting suppliers. If your communications system is affected, customers calling or messaging your contact centre might not get the efficient service they expect. And in modern ‘smart’ factory environments, poor network performance means production lines don’t work as well as they should, potentially impacting on ability to meet order deadlines.

All in all, DDoS can hurt the customer experience and prevent a company from meeting its SLAs in multiple ways, because it can negatively affect networked IT systems in all sorts of ways. The thread that links all of them is damage to your reputation.

Remediation costs

Scrambling to recover IT systems during and after a DDoS attack incurs additional labor costs, such as overtime or the need to use outside consultants. And, the fallout can affect more than just the IT staff; aDDoS attack and the associated downtime can impact a company’s public relations, and strain existing customer support teams who may be scrambling to respond to customer complaints or requests.

There are three main types of DDoS attacks that can debilitate your systems:

  1. An ‘Application Layer attack’, which targets a specific weakness in the application preventing it from communicating as it should.

  2. A 'Protocol' attack works by consuming server resources. It attacks network areas responsible for verifying connections by sending slow pings, malformed pings and partial packets. These end up overloading the memory buffer in the target computer and crashes the system

  3. 'Volumetric' attacks are those that are aimed at a machine’s network to overwhelm its bandwidth. It is the most common type of DDoS attack and works by overwhelming its capacity with large amounts of false data requests. While the machine is occupied with checking these malicious data requests, legitimate traffic is not able to pass through.

Stopping an In-Progress DDoS Attack

To be able to stop a DDoS attack, you must know the most common symptoms.

Usual DDoS symptoms:

  • Large amounts of traffic coming from clients with same or similar characteristics. E.g. device type, browser type/version, IP or IP range, and location etc.

  • An exponential, unexpected rise in traffic at a single endpoint/server.

  • A server starts repeatedly crashing for no reason.

  • Your website is taking too long to respond to requests.

Putting in place a security architecture that enables you to detect, prevent and respond to DDoS attacks is a critical step in any effective cyber security plan.

To find out about more about the different services we offer, simply call us on 020 4599 1365 to speak to a member of our fantastic support team.

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