What you need to know as a small business owner
Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to ransomware
Small businesses often don’t have large IT teams or cybersecurity specialists dedicated to endpoint protection. Many small and medium size business owners believe that they are not of interest to hackers as larger companies would be much more lucrative targets, but actually this could not be further from the truth. The rise of Ransomware-As-A-Service malware purchased on the darkweb makes it easy and worthwhile to target companies of any size.
Any sensitive data obtained by an attack, including client contacts, private health information, banking details and business data can be used for extortion by a hacker. With a limited budget, a mix of often unmanaged personal and business devices, SMB’s are particularly vulnerable to ransomware attacks.
The origin and ease of ransomware attacks
The rise of cryptocurrency and Ransomware-As-A-Service has made attacks all but impossible to trace back to the creator of the malware. The threat actor using the ransomware and making the demands is rarely the creator. Ransom payments demanded in the form of cryptocurrency are untraceable. The ability of the threat actor to stay anonymous and purchase malware cheaply, creates an incentive for the threat actor to make multiple entry attempts, looking to exploit any vulnerability. Employees working from home on often unmanaged devices, coupled with lack of experience and knowledge of what to look out for creates yet more vulnerabilities for hackers to exploit.
Protect your assets: Good advice that isn't good enough
It’s always good to have a recovery backup by creating a copy of your data in case of deletion or file corruption. Be aware that files can be lost (accidental deletion) or damaged during the transfer and that ransomware often targets the backup files too.
Two-factor authentication to enter a vault holding your most complex password combinations that prevents keyloggers sounds safe and for the most part it is but, it isn’t flawless. LastPass was infamously called out for a flaw that potentially allowed malicious sites to gain access to last entered user details from the browser extension.
Software installed to do exactly that; prevent attacks from viruses and other malware through detection and removal. With the capability to protect against all known malware… but what about unknown threats?
Size and skill not required
It’s a fallacy to think that complete protection against ransomware requires a large , dedicated team of cybersecurity experts. Smaller businesses with minimal IT staff can still be fully protected against threats if they employ the right tools.
Because known strains of malware are always evolving and getting more sophisticated, and more evasive, it’s not enough to install anti-virus protection that works on a strategy of “detect and defend.” Proper protection needs to be able to prevent ransomware strains that haven’t been identified yet.
It is important to remember the unfair fact, that small organisations with limited teams and lower budgets have to protect themselves from the same attacks that occur in large organisations that have a team of experts and large budgets. The reality is that 80% of organisations don’t have the resources to assemble this kind of anti-ransomware swat team. But threat actors don’t seek out only the big and well-founded organisations. Even small losses can do permanent damage to small organisations and businesses.