Malware, Ransomware

SMBs finally getting wise to ransomware attacks

The massive cyberattacks that impact major corporations around the world may grab all the headlines, but a recent Malwarebytes survey of small and medium businesses (SMB) found that these companies are being hit just as hard, if not harder, by cybercriminals.

The survey, conducted in June and which looked at 1,054 organizations with 1,000 or fewer employees, found that 81 percent had been hit with a cyberattack, with 66 percent having suffered a data breach of some type. In many cases, the impact was significant, as cyberattacks forced 22 percent of those hit to cease operations for at least a day, while 90 percent who were hit said they were knocked offline for at least one hour.

Adam Kujawa, Malwarebytes director of malware intelligence, told SC Media that 35 percent of attacked SMBs were hit with ransomware. This means that not only were these companies taking a financial hit by being shut down, but then they had to ponder whether or not to pay the bad guys.

The survey found that three percent of the ransom demands were in excess of $100,000 and 11 percent were above $10,000. However, it's not paying the ransom that will kill a company, it's the downtime, which can be much more costly.

“Most don't believe in paying the ransom, which is a good thing,” Kujawa said, adding this can be due to plain stubborness or the fact that they don't have the budget to do so. In many cases this leads to a total data loss because the companies did not back up.

Besides being unprepared by not backing up their data, only about 33 percent of those surveyed reported running any type of anti-ransomware technologies -- this, despite the fact most said they believed ransomware attacks should primarily be addressed with technology and not staff training.

Another issue facing SMBs: many have no cybersecurity infrastructure. The end result is that when a company is hit, those in charge have no idea how it happened. The survey found 27 percent of the companies did not know the source of the ransomware that struck them, but once the attack was investigated the source turned out to be a malicious email.

One bright note was that most of those surveyed knew about ransomware, with 54 percent saying they are very concerned.

Much of this awareness came about recently due to the very high profile WannaCry and NotPetya attacks, although the latter was not a true ransomware, and this has led to many companies finally realizing they need more protection.

Malwarebytes CEO Marcin Klecynski told SC Media that these attacks have generated a great deal of interest in calls from SMBs to his company in the last few months.

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