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My business network was hacked: the consequences

You drive to work after a long weekend, walk to your workspace and open your system to hundreds of spam notifications and security alerts. You dig in deeper to figure out what happened and realize your business network was hacked, compromising your organization’s information and private data.

Many business owners ignore high-tech cybersecurity software because they think it’s costly, but the aftermath of a security breach can cripple an entire organization.

What are the consequences of a successful business network hack?

When a business is hacked, there may be costly consequences of stolen or compromised data. Security breaches can also cause:

1. Damage to reputation

A good reputation takes years of marketing, good service, and public relations to build. However, it’s very difficult to win back your customer’s trust, after your business is tainted with a security breach.

The reputational harm of a hack can make customers leave because they don’t trust you enough to do business with you. Shareholders and suppliers can also revoke their faith in your company. Your stock value can drop and your profits can shrink.

While this is a difficult situation, you can bounce back. Implement a proper response plan and keep updating your security systems to prevent a short-term reputational hit from becoming a long-term disaster.

If your company stores customer data, you are legally responsible to protect it from hacks. If sensitive data becomes compromised, you may have to deal with lengthy legal battles that result in hefty fines. Any sign of negligence can result in additional fines which can end up eating into your backup capital.

You can lessen the blow by setting up a security incident response plan and being honest with your customers about the situation.

3. Financial loss

It’s very difficult to estimate the cost of a data breach because it’s based on factors like government regulations, business size, and the severity of the breach. Regardless of the damage caused, you may need to hire external help to recover from a hack.

For example, a legal team to fight potential lawsuits and a PR agency to communicate with your customers and regain their confidence.

Regulatory penalties, security investments, and incident response can further dent your company’s stock value. You may also have to compensate the affected users with identity theft insurance or other incentives.

4. Operational downtime and recovery

No business is immune to attacks, however sophisticated their cyber-security measures. However, kickstarting operations can be a challenge after your network has been compromised. You may need to implement strategies to help your business recover quickly.

You may also have to stall business to contain the breach, and conduct investigations to identify the source of the malware. This can take a significant amount of time and impact your revenue plus the company’s ability to recover. 

Signs your business network has been hacked

It can be challenging to confirm your business has been hacked without the help of an IT professional. There a re a number of indications that your network security is compromised.

  • Network computers are running slowly, crashing or freezing for no reason. This could be an indication of a hacking attempt that installed an unauthourized software program on your network.
  • Disabled/uninstalled firewall programs or business network security. If you did not shut off your firewall or anti-malware program and you cannot restart it, it is possible your network has been hacked.
  • Emails sent without your knowledge or spam accusations. Email data can be intercepted without the sender’s knowledge when it travels across public servers. This risks business emails getting blacklisted on email services.
  • Increase in error messages when performing routine tasks. This happens if you rarely update your software and install important security patches.
  • Fake antivirus warning messages. If you see this warning, malicious malware may have already damaged your unpatched software and exploited your network completely.

How to deal with security breaches

Protecting your company against cybercrime is costly and can affect the relationship between your business and its customers. Here are the actions you could take:

  • Form an incident response team to help you resolve your network’s unique security breach. The team should have a plan and advise on what to do during the crisis.
  • Identify the hacked systems, determine the IP addresses that were used and confirm the type of attack affecting your business – whether unauthorized remote access, malware, or a virus.
  • Notify users of the compromised network immediately to stop the spread and any further attacks. Responding quickly can also help you minimize the cost of a data breach and so save money.
  • Isolate and examine the affected devices and task your incident response team with blocking infected servers and computers. The team should also identify and evaluate the damage caused and look for backdoors that can give the hackers future access to your network.
  • Prioritize the devices you’ll clean and restore depending on their importance. Once clean, re-install your most recent backup and change all business passwords and for all affected systems.
  • Begin preparing for future attacks. Take preventive measures such as educating employees and conducting a security audit.

Successful cyberattacks can impact your bottom line, ruin your company’s reputation and impact consumer trust. Effective cybersecurity software such as the Palo Alto Networks Firewalls can help you protect customer data, minimize risk, and protects your brand from sudden attacks. 


Feba Maryann
Feba Maryann
Feba Maryann is a freelance journalist who writes for websites and magazines in Asia and North America. She is currently pursuing her Integrated Masters on Computer Science Engineering with a specialization in Data Science from VIT, Vellore.

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My business network was hacked: the consequences