What are the hidden costs of ignoring cyber security?

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For small-to-medium businesses, the financial costs of implementing a robust cyber security plan may seem high. The resources of larger organisations, such as in-house teams and Security Operations Centres, can seem too expensive. However, writing off cyber security could mean your organisation accrues more costs. 

The ASD Cyber Threat Report 2022-2023 found that the average cost of cybercrime rose 14%, with small businesses facing average losses of $46,000 per incident and medium businesses $97,200. For these smaller businesses, a single cyber incident can threaten the company’s financial health or even force closure. Here are six consequences of ignoring cyber security.

Source: ASD.

Downtime costs

Cyber incidents can completely halt your business operations. This interruption can affect everything from customer-facing systems and internal communications networks to logistics and transactions. Prolonged downtime hinders operational productivity and impacts service delivery and customer satisfaction.

Cyber incidents compromise business systems and data integrity, requiring significant time and resources to rectify issues, restore systems, and ensure further protection against subsequent attacks. During this period, businesses cannot perform standard operations, leading to direct and indirect losses.

Lost customer trust

Trust influences whether customers do business with you and feel comfortable sharing sensitive information. Customers expect businesses to protect their data as a fundamental obligation. A 2023 survey by the OAIC found that 70% of Australians deemed privacy as extremely or very important when selecting products or services. A data breach compromises this trust and has severe implications for customer confidence and the overall perception of the company.

Data breaches negatively affect customer perception by exposing them to potential identity theft and financial loss. This exposure often leads to customers losing faith in the brand’s ability to secure their personal and financial information, which can prompt them to turn to competitors. The fallout is a dip in customer satisfaction and an increase in churn rate, affecting sales and profitability.

Staff attrition

Just like your customers will lose faith in the business, staff may feel unsatisfied and choose to move on, particularly if a threat actor has stolen their personal and professional information. Repeated incidents or high-profile breaches often create an atmosphere of uncertainty and mistrust within the workplace. 

This environment causes employees to question the competency of their employer’s protective measures and overall leadership. This loss of trust is a critical driver of staff attrition, as employees are no longer confident in their employer’s capability to protect their interests, pushing them towards leaving.

Financial impacts

Ignoring cyber security can result in financial consequences, including fines and compensation. Regulatory bodies may impose penalties for non-compliance with data protection laws, and compensation claims from affected customers or partners can further escalate costs. These expenses directly affect the bottom line and can strain a company’s financial resources.

The indirect costs of a cyber security breach extend beyond immediate payouts. Businesses often face increased insurance premiums following a breach, reflecting the higher risk they now pose to insurers. Recovery processes, such as forensic investigations, system repairs, and strengthened security measures, also require substantial investment. While necessary to restore operations and confidence, these efforts can deplete financial reserves.

Over the long term, the valuation of a business might suffer due to the reputational damage caused by breaches. This diminished reputation can lead to lower customer retention, reduced investor confidence, and decreased market value.

Legal repercussions

Cyber security breaches frequently incur legal consequences, including regulatory fines and mandatory compliance checks. For this reason, your company should understand relevant compliance frameworks – such as the Essential Eight Maturity Model or the NIST Cyber Security Framework (CSF) – and ensure alignment with those. Regulatory bodies may impose penalties for non-compliance with data protection laws, and compensation claims from affected customers or partners can further escalate costs.

Data and intellectual property loss

A cyber security breach – including phishing, malware, or an exploited system vulnerability – leads to data loss. The data stolen or deleted could include customer details, employee information, business reports or intellectual property (IP). 

IP theft, including patents, trade secrets, and unique processes, impacts the business’s capacity to gain a competitive edge. Competitors that acquire and use leaked IP can leverage efforts from the original innovators who invested heavily in development. As a result, your organisation loses the advantage you might have had, weakening your firm’s market position and impacting future innovation efforts.


Ignoring cyber security can significantly impact various aspects of a business, from operational capabilities to financial health. Data and intellectual property losses diminish a company’s innovation potential and competitive edge. Data theft can also shake customer confidence and impact the business’s bottom line. Staff attrition compounds these issues as concerns spread within the workforce and impact operations further.

The financial repercussions of a cyber attack include penalties, increased insurance costs and significant expenditures on recovery efforts. Legalities can also become challenging; organisations that do not comply with relevant laws or frameworks will receive penalties. If investing in cyber security now feels like a significant expense, compare it with the costs of experiencing a cyber attack. Investing in foundational cyber security measures goes a long way to enhancing cyber security and reducing costly incidents. 

Why choose Productiv’s cyber security services?

We provide comprehensive cyber security services to protect your business from threats and increase resilience during an incident. Our services cover a range of solutions tailored to meet the complex needs of today’s businesses, from operational IT security to customer privacy and data protection. We focus on proactively building defences to bolster confidence in business operations.

Productiv can implement the defences needed to enhance your cyber security posture. We also complement it with continuous monitoring and quick incident response. Visit our Cyber Security Services page for more.

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