Four Ways Disasters Fuel Cyberattacks


For most of us, our businesses are driven by technology. Technology in itself brings certain challenges to the table. Now add in an unexpected disaster, and the aftermath can push a business to breaking point!

It doesn’t matter where you operate your business from, disaster preparedness needs to be factored into your operational planning. This applies to both your physical operations and the tech-driven operations.

How do disasters increase the chance of a cyberthreat?

Here are four ways that disasters can increase cyberthreats to your business and how you can fortify against the possibility.

Using your distractedness against you

If your business is struck by a disaster, your focus quickly moves to ensuring safety for all and how to recover. This distraction has you temporarily diverted from your routines and processes and leaves your IT systems and networks vulnerable.

Things like essential updates may not take place and monitoring may take a back seat. A cybercriminal will jump on this opportunity to gain access to your systems and exploit your weaknesses. Your important and sensitive data can be compromised in this state, bringing further disruption.

To combat this, it would be best practice to have a dedicated team or team member, who assumes responsibility for the monitoring and evaluation of your digital systems during a time of crisis. If resources are low, then ensure you have an automated process in place to check your security systems and updates that will install any necessary patches as they become available. Doing this minimizes the change of a cyberattack while you are preoccupied with other important tasks.

Exploiting the emotional side of things

When disaster strikes, people are scared. There is a sense of urgency to everything and often we are in a state of chaos. These are the perfect conditions for a cyberattack. Cybercriminals will use targeted, deceptive and manipulative emails and fake websites to capitalize on everyone’s heightened anxious state and need for immediate resolutions. Often under the guise of being the support you need or requesting help for others in your same shoes, cybercriminals will try to get you to divulge sensitive details about your organization potentially giving them access to your business-critical systems.

You can tackle this scenario by ensuring your staff is kept regularly informed and trained on cybercriminal tactics such as phishing and social engineering scams. Employees should be able to identify dubious emails and requests for sensitive data. Support and encourage a culture of wariness and commend requests for verification before they share a suspicious email or release sensitive data.

When you foster a cautious environment, you are strengthening your business’ defenses.

Critical Infrastructure Damage

Your infrastructure can take a physical hit, causing severe damage to integral components that would normally protect you from cyberattacks. If your firewall, servers or routers are taken offline you are left with a measurable gap in your defenses that can be exploited.

To mitigate potential exploitation, your business should have backup and disaster recovery systems in place for your critical infrastructure. It is not enough to just have these systems; you must also make sure you are regularly backing up your data and have it stored offsite securely or stored in the cloud. Schedule regular tests to make sure your restoration plan runs smoothly. Having a business continuity process that includes your cybersecurity processes will save you time and money in the long run.

Impersonating trusted sources

Following disaster, cybercriminals are quick to target businesses using the trust that exists with the organizations that will be providing relief and local governments. They will impersonate these trusted agencies through phishing emails, SMS text messages, or phone calls. When emotions are running high, they are able to coerce individuals into sharing sensitive details or even send funds.

You can protect yourself and your business from these scams by:

  • Ensuring any communications received during times of crisis are authentic and verified.
  • Contacting the organization or agency through trusted and known channels to verify if the request is legitimate.
  • Foster a culture of awareness with regards to Cybersecurity so that your staff are always educated and up-to-date on the latest and slickest tactics being deployed by cybercriminals. Encourage verification and caution always with incoming emails.

Protect your business today!

Cybercriminals never rest, and we know they will use any weakness to exploit your business. If you haven’t got a Business Continuity plan and Disaster Recovery Plan in place we are here to help you with expert guidance, infrastructure and support. Contact PACE Technical today to see how we can help you proactively safeguard all that you have worked so hard to create.