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A Constant Threat: The Impact of Cyber Hacks [Infographic]

By DeVry University

August 31, 2021
3 min read

To protect themselves from cyber hacks, organizations must remain diligent or suffer the consequences. Read on to learn about the history of cyberattacks and the impact a breach caused by a cyber hacker or malware can have.

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The State of Cybercrime

Cybercrime is serious business—and it takes a toll on companies large and small. It's an attempt to gain unauthorized access to a computer or computer system for the purpose of causing damage or stealing consumers’ personal information, such as credit card numbers from user accounts.

To understand the immense impact of cyber hacking, take a look at these statistics:

Common Types of Cyber Hacks

While cybercrimes are often grouped together, it’s important to realize that hacking comes in many different forms – and companies must be prepared to protect themselves from each. Here are some of the more common types of cyber hacks:

  • Malware: Malicious software such as spyware, ransomware, viruses and worms that breach a network, typically after the user clicks a link or email attachment.

  • Phishing Attack: Sending fraudulent communications, usually via email, with the goal of stealing sensitive data or distributing malware, typically using social engineering tactics.

  • Man-in-the-Middle Attack: Commonly known as eavesdropping attacks, cybercriminals insert themselves into a two-party transaction in order to steal data or login credentials.

  • Denial-of-Service Attack: DDoS attacks flood systems, servers or networks with traffic to exhaust bandwidth, rendering them unable to fulfill legitimate requests.

  • SQL Injection: Malicious code is inserted into a server that uses SQL, such as a website search box, forcing it to reveal hidden information.

  • Zero-Day Exploit: This attack targets a known network vulnerability before the company has had time to implement a solution.

  • DNS Tunneling: Exploiting the DNS protocol and evading firewalls, this attack routes DNS requests to a server controlled by the attacker, which sends malicious data back to the compromised device.

Spotlight: The First Major Cyber Attack

Cybercrimes have been around longer than you might think. In fact, the first major attack, known as the Morris Worm, took place in 1988. Here’s how it went down:

  • What happened? A cyber worm—malware that propagates on its own without the need for a software host—was deployed by 23-year-old graduate student Robert Tappan Morris. While it did not destroy data, the worm delayed critical military and university communications and functions for several days.

  • The target: Public and private research centers and prestigious colleges such as Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Johns Hopkins and NASA.

  • The outcome: While the cyber hacker claimed it was an experiment gone wrong, evidence uncovered by the FBI suggested otherwise. Morris was indicted in 1989.

  • Estimated impact: $100,000–More than $1 million

Guarding Against Cyber Hacking is a Constant Battle

Organizations today employ teams of IT and cyber security professionals to help them safeguard their systems and the sensitive information they contain. But even the smallest efforts can make a difference. Here are some basic tips to help prevent cyber hacking in your organization:

  • Use two-factor authentication for logging in

  • Create a security plan


  • Encrypt and back up data


  • Consider cyber insurance

  • Set up a firewall

  • Stay educated

Ready to Do More?

If you want to prepare to be on the front lines of digital safety, explore our cyber security degree and cyber security certificate programs. Classes start every 8 weeks and can be taken 100% online.

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