The threat of cyberattacks continues to grow, and small businesses (SMBs) are caught in the crosshairs.
The latest research in small business cybersecurity has revealed the relentless nature of the threat, with new strategies emerging and new strains of ransomware rearing their ugly heads. As a result, 71 percent of ransomware attacks are now targeting small businesses, according to a report released by Beazley Breach Response (BBR).
Its most recent Beazley Breach Briefing, released last month, analyzed 3,300 data incidents in 2018, and found that small businesses face a higher risk of being targeted by a ransomware attack than larger enterprises.
"The threat posed by cybercriminals continues to grow in complexity as they devise new techniques to breach IT security and trick unsuspecting employees into allowing them access to systems," said Beazley Global Head of BBR Services Katherine Keefe in a statement. "Unfortunately, we see these threats globally across all sectors, and we strongly believe that education about the risks and preparedness are as important as IT security measures for protecting individuals and assets from cyberattacks."
Beazley researchers found that the mean for ransomware attack demands was $10,310, though one incident saw a demand for $8.5 million. Healthcare emerged as the largest target for ransomware attacks, followed by financial service providers and professional services. Meanwhile, instances of the Business Email Compromise (BEC) are also on the rise: About 47 percent of all incidents examined last year were the result of a hack or malware — and, of those, about half were BEC scams.
New Attacks Emerge
Separate research has uncovered the latest attacks plaguing the corporate and small business community.
Last month, several companies reported falling victim to the so-called LockerGoga ransomware strain, according to MeriTalk reports, which said the strain is "relatively new." Victims are met with a blue screen on their computers, with the ransomware encrypting company data.
One of the targets, advanced materials and silicones provider Momentive, told the publication that the company was forced to procure hundreds of new computers following the attack. Another target, Hexion, which provides thermoset resins, confirmed it was targeted and said it took "aggressive steps to isolate the issue by disabling certain systems and notifying the appropriate government authority."
Neither revealed whether they plan to pay the ransom, reports noted. However, in addition to new computers, they have created new email domains, suggesting they will not give in to the attackers' demands.
More recently, analysts at Vade Secure issued a warning over an emerging phishing strategy looking to steal corporate funds.
The company said in a press release today (April 4) that it has discovered a direct deposit attack, in which fraudsters deploy so-called spear phishing strategies to trick employees into providing bank account information. In one example of the attack, a fake employee email to human resources (HR) requests a change in direct deposit for wages to be sent into a new bank account. In another, the attacker impersonates a member of the C-Suite, a strategy that Vade said puts more pressure on the targeted HR professional to change bank account information for direct deposits.
The new strategy is a good example of how cybercriminals are evolving, Vade noted: Previous iterations of the payroll scam required fraudsters to harvest login credential. Through the spear phishing campaign, an unwilling employee inputs those credentials for the criminal. Furthermore, traditional cybersecurity technology cannot always detect this kind of attack.
"Without the presence of a malicious attachment or phishing link, these emails continue to flood inboxes and cause significant damage to businesses and employees," Vade stated, adding that organizations should prioritize phishing awareness training for workers, and deploy technology that can detect and predict threats in emails via natural language processing.