Small businesses are still in danger, facing an increasing number of attacks in 2022
When a small business owner is faced with the responsibilities of production economics, financial reports and marketing all at the same time, cybersecurity can often appear complicated and, at times, unnecessary. However, this disregard for IT security is being exploited by cybercriminals. Kaspersky researchers assessed the dynamics of attacks on small and medium-sized businesses between January and March 2022 and the same period in 2021 to identify which threats pose an increasing danger to entrepreneurs.
In 2021, small businesses were three times more likely to fall victim to fraudsters than larger companies. The average loss from a single cyberattack has exploded from $34,000 to just under $200,000. In addition to financial hits, these companies have had to shoulder legal fees, compliance penalties, reputational damage and the loss of customers. These are setbacks that many small businesses are unable recover from.
To prevent such losses, business owners need to take better care of their business’s online security. A company’s cybersecurity begins first and foremost with its employees. According to public reports, the average employee has access to over 11 million files. The information that they have access to can vary from financial information or customer data to the secrets of their company's development. Cybercriminals are aware of this, which is why most attacks on companies are conducted through its employees, who are often untrained in the cyber-risks associated with their role.
Kaspersky researchers have collected data on the most frequent attacks faced by small and medium-sized businesses around the world and found that the total number of attacks between January-March 2022 has increased significantly compared to the previous year. In 2022, the number of Trojan-PSW (Password Stealing Ware) detections increased by almost a quarter compared to the same period in 2021 一 4,003,323 compared to 3,029,903. Trojan-PSW is a malware that steals passwords, along with other account information, which then allows attackers to gain access to the corporate network and steal sensitive information.
TOP 5 countries with the highest growth in Trojan-PSW attacks in the first quarter of 2022 in the comparison with the same period in 2021
Another popular attack tool used on small businesses is Internet attacks, specifically, web pages with redirects to exploits, sites containing exploits and other malicious programs, botnet C&C centers, etc. The number of these attacks also increased in the first quarter of 2022. In comparison to 32,500,000 infections in 2021, Kaspersky researchers detected almost 35,400,000 in the first three months of 2022. Indonesia, the United States, Peru and Egypt were hit particularly hard by web malware with the number of attacks in those countries increasing several times over the past year.
With the shift towards remote working, many companies have introduced the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), a technology that enables computers on the same corporate network to be linked together and accessed remotely, even when the employees are at home. It isn’t an unusual technology anymore as having remote workers has become the new norm for many businesses. But this puts the security of their devices and the corporate systems of a business in danger, as RDP is of particular interest to cybercriminals. With RDP in place, if the attacker gains access to the corporate network, they can then conduct fraud on any of the business’s computers that have been linked. The overall number of attacks on RDP has decreased slightly, but not in all countries. For example, in the first quarter of 2021 there were about 47.5 million attacks in the U.S., whereas for the same period in 2022 the number had risen to 51 million.
TOP 5 countries attacked through RDP between January and March 2022
To avoid such attacks, companies’ leaders need to improve the cybersecurity of their company, starting with one person in particular - the IT specialist. Advanced security services can provide built-in training to keep IT specialists up to date with the latest cyberthreats. Through training and education, business owners can turn them into sought-after cybersecurity specialists who are able to analyze how threats may hit their particular organization and adapt technical and organizational cybersecurity measures accordingly. This will help businesses avoid additional costs related to breaches of their corporate systems.
Kaspersky experts advise getting an advanced security product to provide incident analysis. Many organizations don’t have any plan in place to mitigate a breach of their organization, let alone the necessary protection to prevent an infringement in the first place. This is particularly true if a threat infiltrates their system and goes undetected – which is entirely possible if network monitoring and automated threat detection mechanisms aren't in place.
Having a special security solution enables attack visualization and provides IT administrators with a convenient tool for incident analysis. The faster they can analyze where and how a leak occurred, the better they will be able to solve any negative consequences. The new edition of Kaspersky Endpoint Security Cloud, dubbed Kaspersky Endpoint Security Cloud Pro, contains advanced new capabilities, including automated response options and an extended set of security controls in a single solution. The Pro version also includes built-in training for IT workers seeking to boost their cybersecurity skills and make the most out of their specialized security products.
Even small businesses with limited IT resources still need to protect all their working devices, including computers and mobile phones, from cyberthreats. The updated Kaspersky Small Office Security is a key tool for startups, small online-stores and local businesses to keep all of their work devices protected, safely transfer any valuable business-related files and avoid falling victim to ransomware.
“With the shift to remote working and the introduction of numerous advanced technologies in the daily operations of even small companies, security measures need to evolve to support these sophisticated setups. Cybercriminals are already way ahead of the curve, so much so that virtually every organization will experience a breach attempt at some point. For small companies today, it's not a matter of whether a cybersecurity incident will happen but when. Having trained staff and an educated IT-specialist is no longer a luxury but a must-have part of your business development,” comments Denis Parinov, security researcher at Kaspersky.
To protect your business, Kaspersky recommends:
● Providing your staff with basic cybersecurity hygiene training as many targeted attacks start with phishing or other social engineering techniques.
● Using a protection solution for endpoints and mail servers with anti-phishing capabilities to decrease the chance of infection through phishing emails.
● Taking key data protection measures. Always safeguard corporate data and devices, including by using password protection, encrypting work devices and ensuring data is backed up.
●Keeping work devices physically safe – do not leave them unattended in public, always lock them and use strong passwords and encryption software.