Cyber-Attacks are on the Rise

12388628073?profile=RESIZE_400xCyber-attacks cost the world economy a huge $8 trillion USD in 2023 and are expected to rise to an incredible $18 trillion by 2030.  Technology has advanced so rapidly that most devices in a 2024 household are always online smart devices perpetually connected to the cloud.  Beyond this, no workforce, industry, or government agency exists without a complex and interconnected web of users, systems, and online technologies.  Is it any wonder that cyber-attacks are on the rise and have cost the world $8 trillion USD in 2023?

According to ExpressVPN, the cost of cyber-attacks has increased steadily in recent years.  With the rise of generative AI and more generative AI, the $8 trillion figure will hit $9.5 trillion in 2024 and effectively double to $17.9 trillion by 2030.  Last year alone, the cost of cyber-attacks would have made it the third-largest economy in the world behind the United States and China.[1]

As for who bears the brunt of the cost, if you answered 'us,' you're correct.  Looking into over 550 organizations hit by data breaches, IBM's 2023 Cost of Data Breach report arrived at this conclusion - additional costs passed onto consumers in various ways.  So, the next time you see a subscription fee increase, one of the main reasons could very well be cybersecurity costs.  The same report included the top 10 countries and regions most affected by cyber attacks in 2023, ranked by the average costs (measured in USD millions) of a data breach, as follows.

  • United States - $9.48 million
  • Middle East - $8.07 million
  • Canada - $5.13 million
  • Germany - $4.67 million
  • Japan - $4.52 million
  • United Kingdom - $4.21 million
  • France - $4.08 million
  • Italy - $3.86 million
  • Latin America - $3.69 million
  • South Korea - $3.48 million

While the average cost decreased in some countries compared to 2022 (Canada, Germany, and Japan being three), additional cybersecurity reports indicate that companies plan to increase their cybersecurity spending in 2024 and beyond.  With the advances in generative AI, it is no surprise that many also predict that AI and its misuse will become a growing threat to various industries.  And with the most susceptible industries being healthcare, manufacturing, and finance, it's a scary thought.

Per a survey conducted by Statista, 'cyber-attacks' are one of the top concerns among the business community and various industries.  As a broad term, let's break down a few categories and 'growth areas' in cyber-attacks - starting with ransomware.  This is where hackers (via malware) effectively steal data or encrypt files and ransom them back to the targeted company in exchange for money.  A high-profile ransomware case from December 2023 involved Sony PlayStation first-party developer Insomniac Games, where after purportedly not paying the ransom, all of the studio's plans, including game demos, sales targets, and leaked PlayStation business documents, were put online for all to see (and share).

Ransomware has surged in recent years, thanks partly to the rise of cryptocurrency, which paved the way for hard-to-trace anonymous transactions.  No matter the outcome, ransomware incurs significant recovery costs, and in 2023, there was a 55% increase in reported cases.

Ransomware is often the outcome of finding vulnerabilities in a network, where the more extensive the network, the more potential for vulnerabilities ranging from simple phishing to gain access to personal devices to malicious code injected into widely used and accessed software.

Another growth area is DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service attacks, which increased by 117% in the Q4 2023 holiday season compared to the same period in 2023, per Cloudflare's report.  A DDoS attack is where a computer system or network of systems targets a single service, site, or server to take it offline by overwhelming it with junk traffic.  DDoS attacks can often be politically motivated, with Taiwan registering a whopping 3,370% growth in DDoS attacks for Q4 2023. It was in the middle of an election, and tensions with China were rising.

With the estimated annual cost of cyber-attacks set to $10.5 trillion USD by 2025 and up to $17.9 trillion USD by 2030, businesses, individuals, and industries will, in turn, invest more in cybersecurity measures to fight cyber-attacks, including more planning, employee training, threat detection, and response.  And there's good behavior like adopting authentication, using tools like VPNs, staying on top of software updates, and reporting anything suspicious.  Plus, the obvious stuff, like never opening an email attachment from a source you don't intrinsically trust.

With the rise of generative AI set to pose a new and emerging threat, AI tools and automation will continue to help organizations save. IBM's 2023 Cost of Data Breach report notes that those who already use AI extensively save $1.76 million compared to organizations that don't.

This article is presented at no charge for educational and informational purposes only.

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