Analecta Cyber Company Blog: Fully Understanding the Impact and Potential Cost of a Cybersecurity Incident


Fully Understanding the Impact and Potential Cost of a Cybersecurity Incident

understanding the impact of a cybersecurity incident - Analecta LLC graphic Fully Understanding the Impact and Potential Cost of a Cybersecurity Incident - Analecta LLC banner It is a significant challenge to stay ahead of threats to your systems and networks and it is likely that your organization will experience one or more cyber incidents. The NIST cybersecurity framework advocates that organizations fully understand the impact of any incident and that they conduct analysis to ensure that the response has been effective in supporting recovery activities. But what does it mean “to understand the impact of an incident?” 

Assemble an accurate inventory

Understanding the impact of an incident falls under the “Respond” portion of the NIST cybersecurity framework, but there are a number things you can do ahead of time to make the task more manageable. First, ensure that you have an accurate asset inventory. This inventory outlines the various devices on your network, the details of what each component does and where the device fits in your overall data system. This information gives your organization a starting point for where to look for potential compromises during an incident.

Your inventory should also annotate which devices are most critical to business operation. If any of these devices are compromised, you will be able to get a more complete picture about the impact the incident is having on your business. Companies that allow employees to “bring your own devices” (BYOD) onto the network should also have an inventory of these personal devices, as well as how and when they access the network.

understanding the impact of a cybersecurity incident - Analecta LLC graphic
Cyber criminals are skilled at concealing their work. Identifying the true impact of a cyber incident may require expert technical and business analysis.

Risks faced during an incident

Having a solid understanding of the risks your organization faces and the potential impact of those risks before an incident occurs will help you make an accurate assessment when an actual incident occurs. Several different factors play into understanding the risks facing an organization, regardless of the type of business you have:
  • Network configuration and external servers
  • Level of employee security training
  • Type and quality of security devices
Several factors may be the same for multiple businesses, such as a public facing web server. However, the impact of a loss to the web server for even a few hours will be more severe for a business that receives nearly all of its revenue online than a company that only uses a web server to advertise for additional clients. After you understand the risks that your organization are most likely to face, place a dollar figure on them. Assess the cost your business could potentially incur if that asset was degraded or destroyed. This will give you a starting point to work with when evaluating expected cost during incident response and recovery.

Indirect impacts that can affect your bottom line

Much of the impact of a cybersecurity incident may come in the form of customer reaction. As with the web server example above, this will depend on the nature of how you use technology to conduct business. A cybersecurity incident can have an impact on brand loyalty and trust, potentially driving customers away. Other significant impacts resulting from an incident may be:
  • Higher insurance premiums
  • Damage to your reputation
  • Loss of intellectual property
  • Lawsuits resulting from loss of protected data
According to the IBM Security/Ponemon Institute 2018 Cost of a Data Breach study, an average data breach costs $3.86 million, however, organizations that are prepared with an incident response plan can save on the order of $340,000 per breach. The good news is that the faster a data breach can be identified and contained, the less the incident will cost your organization. This could be the difference between staying in business or shutting your doors for good.

Limiting impacts before, during and after an incident

Other factors that can reduce or limit the impact a cyber incident can have on your company include the following:

Stay informed!

The world of cybersecurity is constantly changing, and it pays to be “in-the-know” with the latest cybersecurity strategies and regulations. We can help your business stay current on important topics that can keep your business more secure. Send us an email us at or visit the Cybersecurity page on our website. We are here to help!

Analecta Cyber is a Maryland-based cybersecurity firm providing cyber risk assessments for small and medium sized businesses. Analecta is a trusted partner to help companies achieve their cybersecurity objectives.

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