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Ransomware attacks increasingly target SMBs

The costs and risks posed by ransomware refuse to die down.

In fact, they are not only increasing in number and severity but also spreading through to smaller businesses.

Industry experts place two-fifths (41%) of insurance claims in North America at the feet of malware that has breached security and is accompanied by threats to publish the victim’s data or to block access to it.

This is just one indication of how wide a net cybercriminals are now casting over the business community.

The threat to SMBs

We are seeing an increase in ransomware criminals targeting small or medium businesses (SMBs) as enterprises batten down their cybersecurity hatches.

SMBs are, in general, far less likely to have the in-house expertise – or time – to protect themselves effectively. It is this vulnerability that is seeing them tip the balance between opportunity and reward for the criminals.

Beazley, a leading UK cybersecurity insurer, noted in its 2020 Breach Briefing that ransomware had risen by a massive 131% year on year. In addition, it noted that SMBs were now, by far, the largest target: they accounted for 62% of all reported incidents.

The hidden victims of ransomware

The cost of cybercrime is constantly rising. Predictions that it will have reached $6 trillion by 2021 are far from overly pessimistic.

While cyberattacks on large companies tend to grab the headlines, it is rare that one reads about the attacks that are hitting SMBs.

A recent report by Google reviewed cyberattacks on SMBs in Spain. These businesses – which make up 99.8% of Spain’s business community – were subject to 102,414 cyberattacks over the year. Yet very few of these made even the local news let alone attracted national coverage for what is a very worrying trend.

Google suggested that these businesses’ vulnerability was, in part, caused by a widespread belief that they were not an attractive target for cybercriminals. Indeed, almost three million Spanish companies were estimated to be poorly protected, or completely unprotected, against cyberattacks such as ransomware.

The report goes on to note that the average cost of a cyberattack for an SMB is €35,000. And, even more concerning, is the statistic that 60% of SMBs are no longer trading six months after the attack.

Increased threat at a time of crisis

It is clear that the risks for SMBs have never been higher. It is also clear that, as remote working extends networks ever further and endpoints multiply, vulnerabilities are occupying an ever more diffuse area.

As the economic downturn that trails the global pandemic hits resource capacity for most SMBs, an outsourced security solution is ever more attractive at this time of heightened threat.

What can SMBs do?

From the technical monitoring of managed detection and response (MDR) to human-focused security awareness training, there are many ways SMBs can find cost-effective solutions.

At Falanx, we introduced our suspicious email service because the businesses we worked with wanted a way to check their emails and alleviate the burden of relying on beleaguered staff to identify phishing and ransomware emails.

And, of course, most of global malware is delivered into your business by email.

Our advice for SMBs is to ensure that everyone in the business is doing all they can to reduce the risk of a ransomware attack.

This checklist will help you cover the essentials:

  • Never open an attachment from an unknown sender.
    And be careful of links too: the vast majority of global malware arrives via email.
  • Don’t plug in an unknown USB device
    Such devices are may contain malware that will quickly spread through your company’s network.
  • Get into the habit of using ‘challenging’ passwords that are updated regularly.
    This means that any password that is leaked in a breach (not necessarily from your own business) is less likely to pose a security risk.
  • Update the system
    Many vulnerabilities appear when applications (particularly third-party applications) are out of date and no longer ‘patched’ against the vulnerabilities that can cause security breaches.

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