14. January 2022

Is your company protected against cyber attacks?

Statistics provide clear evidence: one in four Swiss firms has already fallen victim to a cyber attack. What advice does an expert from the University of St.Gallen give, and why is it important for your company to be protected against an attack yesterday rather than tomorrow?

Lights on. Coffee machine on. Computer on. This is Kira Hautle’s ritual every morning. But on this morning, something is different. The computer fails to start up – the system is dead. What has happened? Kira doesn’t know yet that she will never forget this day. “It dawned on me only slowly that our company had fallen victim to cyber criminals,” the CEO of Treuhand Kira AG remembers. “Of course I immediately thought of all the horror scenarios.” She wondered what those unknown people were going to do to her company, what it meant to her customers and how safe her staff still were.
Kira Hautle is shocked: her company fell victim to cyber criminals

Cyber crime incidents registered by November 2021

Kira Hautle is not alone with her experience by any manner of means. The latest figures published by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) are worrying and are forcing companies to take action. Specifically, one in four Swiss SMEs has already experienced a cyber attack. No matter what the cyber attack looked like, the damage potential is enormous. To name but a few examples: a loss of income, the costs of the recovery of stolen or destroyed data, reputational damage which could result in a loss of customers, IT problems, paralysis of the systems, and much more.

Companies which were hit hard will remain in people’s memories. Thus cyber criminals simultaneously paralysed the production of Huber+Suhner in several countries. A cyber attack cost Meier Tobler Gebäudetechnik about five million francs, and Stadler Rail was even blackmailed by hackers. Attacks were also launched at the Hirslanden Group of private hospitals and on the TX media group. In the course of an attack on the European Medicines Agency, hackers apparently stole data about vaccines. The list is long, and Kira Hautle’s firm is now also listed as a victim.

The expert’s tip: cyber security is an investment

Since the pandemic, the number of cyber attacks has soared. Remote   working, WFH, unsecured networks and internet connections, digitalisation that is not oriented towards cyber security, and primarily employees’ improper behaviour are constantly throwing the doors wide open to cyber criminals.  Samir Aliyev from the University of St.Gallen is convinced of this. “Cyber security is the main issue for many firms,” he continues. “We think and act in a way that is insufficiently focused on cyber security and are unaware that cyber security is an investment and an important market competence in an environment characterised by fierce competition.” He advises executive staff to take this issue seriously and arm themselves with the requisite weaponry. “Draw up a strategy to counter the danger of cyber risks before it is too late.” There is also the option of taking out insurance cover against cyber attacks. Samir Aliyev thinks this is a good idea, too, for such an attack can soon cost a great deal of money or even result in the company going bankrupt.


Protection against further attacks

Fortunately, the attack on Kira and her SME did not have any serious consequences. After the first shock, it became clear that it was not a case of blackmail and that her company had not lost any customer data. But what will happen next time? Kira wants to train herself and also her staff in this important issue, for only with the right strategy and the necessary know-how will she be able to protect her company against a next, and perhaps more costly, attack.