Home Security Architecture Reasons for Variability in the Impact of Cyber-Attacks

Reasons for Variability in the Impact of Cyber-Attacks

Reasons for Variability in the Impact of Cyber-Attacks

The British Library, a symbol of knowledge and preservation, has been thrown back into pre-internet times following a devastating cyber-attack in October 2023. The attack, attributed to the Russian hacker group Rhysida, paralyzed the library’s IT systems and led to a ransom demand of 20 bitcoin, equivalent to £600,000 at the time. When the British Library refused to pay, the hackers auctioned off stolen data and leaked nearly 600 GB of private information on the dark web.

This incident has left the British Library in a state of disarray, with books having to be ordered in person using paper slips and much of its digital content inaccessible. The recovery process is expected to be lengthy, with experts predicting it could take up to a year for the library to fully recover from the attack. The organisation has not provided a specific timeframe for recovery, but the scale of the damage suggests that it will be a challenging road ahead.

The British Library’s struggles are not unique in the world of cyber-attacks. While the average downtime following a ransomware attack in the US was 24 days from 2020 to mid-2022, some organisations face prolonged recovery periods due to the complexity of the attack and the systems affected. For example, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is still in the process of rebuilding from a ransomware attack that occurred in December 2020. By choosing to build back better from scratch, SEPA is taking a proactive approach to cyber-attack recovery.

There are many factors that can influence the length of recovery from a cyber-attack, including the type and number of systems affected, the quality of backups, and the experience of IT staff. The rise of cloud computing has introduced new challenges, with attackers targeting hypervisors that can lock up multiple systems and programs at once.

Kimberly Goody, head of cyber crime analysis at Mandiant, warns that organisations need to have a robust cyber-security strategy in place to defend against such attacks. Testing cyber-security products in your own environment, investing in cyber-security staff and tools, and having cyber-risk insurance as part of your broader risk plan are all essential steps that organisations can take to protect themselves against cyber threats.

The financial implications of a cyber-attack can be staggering, with the majority of costs stemming from business interruption rather than the ransom itself. The British Library, facing millions of pounds in digital rebuilding costs, is just one example of how cyber-attacks can have far-reaching financial consequences for organisations.

As the former head of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, Ciaran Martin, has warned, cyber-attacks are likely to continue at an alarming rate in the coming years. Simon West, cyber-advisory lead at Resilience, emphasizes the importance of preparation and vigilance in the face of evolving cyber threats. With cyber-attackers becoming increasingly sophisticated and opportunistic, organisations must remain proactive in their efforts to safeguard their digital assets and operations.

In conclusion, the cyber-attack on the British Library serves as a stark reminder of the ever-present threat of cybercrime in today’s digital landscape. As organisations continue to grapple with the fallout from such attacks, it is clear that a comprehensive and resilient cyber-security strategy is essential to protect against future threats and mitigate the potentially devastating consequences of a cyber breach.

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