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Cyber attacks: the importance of fiber optics for security

7 February 2024 | News, Scenery and markets

Cyber security was undoubtedly one of the hottest topics of 2023, and the trend is not likely to stop in 2024 either.

According to the Clusit 2023 report, Italian cyber attacks increased 40% in the first six months of the year compared to 2022. In the first quarter of 2023, there were 1382 cyber attacks worldwide, 9.6 percent of which affected our country.

Several sectors were affected, with more or less heavy repercussions and a prevalence of attacks on financial-insurance sectors, but not only.

Attacks: types, modes and quantities

The DII (Digital Intensity Index), used to assess the level of digitization of enterprises, reveals that only 21.3 percent of SMEs will reach levels defined as high in the indicator in 2023. In contrast, 68.1 percent of large enterprises exceed these levels. The main challenge for SMEs lies in activities that require specialized skills, such as data analysis and the use of management software.

Broadband and the speed challenge among small and medium-sized enterprises

A good percentage of attacks succeed through the use of malware and/or ransomware (a type of malware that prevents access to devices or services until a ransom payment occurs). These two represent the most common techniques used by cyber criminals in Italy as well, accounting for 31 percent.

A 21 percent of attacks, on the other hand, fall under the “Unknown” category, i.e., “unknown techniques,” which often results in data leakage especially of sensitive entities or institutions, such as ministries and banks. At that point, those affected will be notified of such a “data breach,” but not necessarily of how the attack occurred.

Phishing, on the other hand, is a well-known and widespread technique that continues to reap victims with the aim of obtaining sensitive data, especially related to accounts and bank details. Underlying most cyber attacks, however, there is a vulnerability of data, which is exposed to web risks and potential breaches.

One technique destined to become more widespread in the coming months is what is called “DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service),” whereby the cyber criminal overloads a server or website to the point of making it unusable or inaccessible by clients, thus blocking its proper functioning. With this system, the most affected sites are mainly those of online shops and in general all those sites of companies or entities that offer services on the web.

Damage from cyber attacks: not just data loss

A cyber attack can be defined as more or less severe based on the consequences and severity of the effects. The longer sectors are affected, the more severe the attack will be considered.

The most direct damages are undoubtedly those concerning the economic sphere and that related to the very loss of sensitive data and information, but these are not the only two areas to be impacted. Indeed, there are a variety of areas that can be affected: legal, reputational and insurance.

The most critical attacks in Italy are lower than the global average, but most attacks succeed.

The economic implications of such disruptions are significant. Data collected show that, on average, outages involving data loss cost about $2.61 million in 2023. In operational terms, these resulted in an average of 26 hours of unplanned downtime and an average data loss of 2.45 terabytes (TB).

In addition, there has been a doubling of costs associated with cyber attacks and cyber incidents, growing from $0.66 million in 2022 to $1.41 million in 2023 (Dell Technologies and Vanson Bourne Global Data Protection Index findings).

Also included in the economic losses must be the time and cost of recovery, which can be more or less substantial depending on the severity of the attack.

How to protect yourself: fiber optics as an enabler for tools.

That’s why it’s important to be able to protect yourself and know how to do so, at home as well as in business. Fiber optics is an important enabler for data-conscious companies, even in the event of a hacker attack.

Thanks to fiber optics and connection speed, companies can equip themselves with emerging technologies or choose to upgrade some of the services they already have to try to counter, as best they can, a cyber attack, such as:

  • AI: Artificial intelligence is one of the services that can be accessed with an all-fiber network, useful, for example, in generating complex passwords or dual authentication systems. Also because not all attacks have the same intensity or impact. AI is a booming modern technology and requires a high bandwidth requirement, which is possible thanks to fiber optics.
  • cloud: first of all, it is important to protect passwords and all data, more or less sensitive. A key tool in this regard is the cloud, a space for storing and saving data. Thanks to fiber optics, the cloud enables fast data uploads and downloads.
  • speed of intervention/diagnosis of the problem: Another key aspect is to identify the problem immediately to try to solve it promptly and limit the damage as much as possible both in terms of money and data loss itself.

In short, the 2024 trend in cyber security and cyber attacks is definitely set to grow, so it is important not to be caught unprepared.

Talking about cyber security is not just about choosing a complex password or equipping yourself with antivirus, but putting as many tools in place as possible to try to prevent and limit the damage an attack can cause.

We should not be discouraged in the face of this growing trend; technology and fiber optics can offer really good tools for protection and prevention.