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Small-to-Medium Businesses the Big Targets for Cybercrime

17 Mar 2024

While cyberattacks on large corporates make the headlines, it’s small to medium businesses who are being hit the hardest.

The 2024 Sophos Threat Report found that the sophistication of cyberthreats faced by small to medium organisations is often on par with those used to attack large enterprises.  Apparently, while the amount of money that can be stolen is less than that available from a larger organisation, cybercriminals more than make up the difference in the volume of thefts.

More vulnerable, greater impact
Sophos say that organisations with fewer than 500 employees are not only more vulnerable to cybercriminals, they also suffer more proportionally from the results of cyberattacks.

The greater vulnerability is due to a lack of experienced security operations staff, underinvestment in cybersecurity, and smaller information technology budgets.  And, when these businesses are hit by cyberattacks, the expense of recovery forces many to close.

Attractive Ransomware Targets
90% of the world’s businesses are small- and medium-sized. In Australia, these businesses contribute more than 60% of the nation’s overall GDP.
According to The Institute for Security and Technology’s Ransomware Task Force, 70% of ransomware attacks target small to medium businesses.

Other Prevalent Threats
Beyond Ransomware, a variety of other cyberthreats also pose an existential threat to small and medium businesses.
  • Data theft is the focus of most malware targeting small and medium businesses. Password stealers, keyboard loggers, and other spyware make up nearly half of malware detections. Credential theft through phishing and malware can expose small businesses’ data on cloud platforms and service providers, and network breaches can be used to target their customers as well.
  • Web-based malware distribution — through “malvertising” or malicious search engine optimisation — is also on the rise. 
  • Unprotected devices connected to organisational networks — including unmanaged computers without security software installed, improperly configured computers and systems running software fallen out of support by manufacturers — are a primary point of entry.
  • Attackers are increasingly abusing device drivers — both vulnerable drivers from legitimate companies, and malicious drivers that have been signed with stolen or fraudulently obtained certificates.
  • Email attacks have begun to feature more active engagement with targets over email, using a thread of emails and responses to make their lures more convincing.
  • Attacks on mobile device users, including social engineering-based scams tied to the abuse of third-party services and social media platforms, have grown exponentially, affecting individuals and small to medium businesses.

Your Data is Their Target
The greatest cybersecurity challenge facing organisations of all sizes is data protection. More than 90% of attacks reported to Sophos involved data or credential theft, with methods ranging from ransomware attacks, to data extortion, unauthorised remote access, and simple data theft.
Compromised business email userids are also a substantial problem for small to medium businesses, and the next most prevalent threat after ransomware.
Stolen credentials, including browser cookies, can be used to compromise business email userids, provide unauthorised access to third-party services such as cloud-based finance systems, and entry to internal resources.

Turning Your Own Tech Against You
Sophos said that, as 2023 progressed, they observed an increase in the use of remote execution of ransomware. Unmanaged devices on an organisation’s own network were hijacked to encrypt files on other systems via network file access.
Ransomware and other malware developers are increasingly using cross-platform languages to build versions for not only Windows, but also macOS and Linux operating systems.
Small and medium businesses also need to be concerned about the security of the services they depend upon to manage their business. Attacks against managed service providers became an enduring part of the ransomware playbook in 2023.

How to Protect Your Business
Criminal syndicates count on smaller organisations to be less well-defended and to not have deployed modern, sophisticated tools to protect their users and assets. The key to successfully defending against their threat is to use a multi-layered strategy that includes robust data transfer protection, staff education, and multifactor authentication.
A Secure Managed File Transfer solution such as the class-leading GoAnywhere MFT  addresses the many risks of ad hoc techniques through a holistic approach to security, including:
  • Automatic authentication, encryption and decryption
  • User access controls
  • Auditing and Reporting, and
  • Industry standards compliance.

If you’d like to beef up your organisation’s defences against the increasing threats posed by cybercriminals, please feel free to contact me, Bradley Copson (mail to: ). I’m always happy to have an obligation-free discussion, and explain how we can quickly and affordably transition you from your existing approaches without disrupting your business.

I’ll even offer you a zero-cost Proof of Concept.

Bradley Copson

Business Manager

Generic Systems Australia

Your Local Experts in Secure Managed File Transfer

#MFT #managedfiletransfer #securefiletransfer #sft #cybersecurity #datatransfer

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