Collateral damage in cyber security is the infliction of unintended harm on an individual or organisation, in the pursuit of intended harm elsewhere. Cyber attacks may be aimed at a certain person, group, company or country, and end up affecting people other than this. Consequences of cyber attacks can often be unintended, and the methods used for attack are often imprecise, leaving a big risk for collateral damage.
It is important that companies and individuals recognise the risks stemming from collateral damage of cyber attacks. While many may disregard their information as unimportant or unattractive to cyber criminals, this is often not the case, and tends to underestimate the desirability of their data. With this in mind, there is also the risk of security compromises as collateral damage for every person or business. If a cyber attack takes place on one company, it may affect others in the process. Similarly, if an attack is aimed at a large corporation, employees and customers may be harmed too, as a result.
Understanding the threats that untargeted attacks pose to any organisation or individual should be a key driver in always ensuring good cyber safety practices, to lessen this risk.