Cyber attacks are the greatest threat to companies worldwide
Online extortion is a booming business for criminals. The number of cyber attacks is constantly increasing, and the fears in companies are growing accordingly.
Munich/Berlin. Managers and security professionals around the world see cyberattacks as the greatest threat to organizations.
In the “Risk Barometer” published on Tuesday by the industrial insurer AGCS, which belongs to Allianz, criminal hackers and their activities are in first place. Business interruptions, natural disasters and pandemics follow in places two to four.
The company surveyed a total of 2,650 professionals in 89 countries last fall. This included over 1,200 executives from large companies with more than $500 million in annual sales. Allianz’s own experts also took part in the survey. Among the 351 participants in Germany, the first two places were reversed: business interruption came in first place, ahead of cyber attacks.
In many cases, however, the two main dangers of cyber attacks and business interruption are linked, as AGCS manager Jens Krickhahn explained. The number of ransomware attacks has increased significantly in recent years. With the help of malicious encryption software, hackers paralyze computer networks in order to then extort large sums of money for unlocking.
Even very good IT security precautions do not provide 100% protection against hacker attacks: “Companies invest a lot of money in the further development of IT security, but we are still finding that attackers can get through and sometimes cause enormous damage to companies,” said Krickhahn.
The assessment of the experts surveyed by Allianz is consistent with other analyzes of cybercrime. The US company Cybersecurity Ventures, which is often cited in the IT industry, estimates that the global damage caused by cybercrime will have reached six trillion dollars in 2021. By 2025, this could increase to $10.5 trillion. The immense sum includes data theft and destruction, financial crime, lost productivity, intellectual property theft and other crimes, as well as the cost of repairing the damage.
In the middle of the decade, these would then be higher profits than in the global drug trade and a higher sum than the gross domestic products of all countries with the exception of the USA and China, according to an assessment of trends in criminal cyber business published by the US company at the turn of the year.
“No company and no authority is safe from cyber attacks today,” says Sebastian Artz, Head of Cyber and Information Security at the IT industry association Bitkom. “It is therefore crucial to be prepared for emergencies and to proactively deal with the topic of cyber security. The topic of ransomware in particular will continue to boom in 2022.”
Because among the various forms of cybercrime, extortion is the fastest growing crime. In 2021, according to estimates by Cybersecurity Ventures, criminal gangs made 20 billion dollars worldwide in this way. Bitkom cyber expert Artz says that medium-sized companies in particular are a lucrative target in the eyes of cybercriminals, “because in addition to good prospects of success, there is also a tendency to be under the wheel of law enforcement authorities.” In addition to the lack of understanding of one’s own attractiveness as a company for cyber criminals, there is a lack of personnel and resources.
Insurance against hacker attacks can usually only be taken out by a company that has already taken extensive IT security precautions, otherwise the risk is too great for the insurer. Insurers have also recognized “that a certain level of IT security must exist in the company before cyber insurance can even be taken out,” says Sebastian Artz. “Therefore, it is once again important to put the topic of cyber security on the agenda.”
AGCS also continues to reject many insurance applications from companies in the cyber area – according to Krickhahn, half of them, even if the rejection rate used to be higher.
But not only insurance companies are in demand. Bitkom President Achim Berg is demanding better prevention of cyber attacks from the new federal government, including “sufficient financial, material and human resources for the Bundeswehr”, as the head of the association demanded last week. “It is no longer a future scenario for states to fight each other on the Internet. State-controlled hacker attacks have been a reality for years.”
© dpa-infocom, dpa:220118-99-747141/3