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Ransomware poses biggest cyber threat to MSMEs – Sophos | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware


Ransomware remains the most significant and worrying cyber threat faced by small and medium businesses worldwide, according to a report by global cybersecurity company, Sophos.

The firm in its Threat Report, titled “Cybercrime on Main Street”, released on Monday, stated that ransomware operators continued to change ransomware tactics, which included leveraging remote encryption and targeting managed service providers.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system or files until a sum of money, or “ransom,” is paid.

According to the report, between 2022 and 2023, the number of ransomware attacks that involved remote encryption—when attackers use an unmanaged device on organisations’ networks to encrypt files on other systems in the network—increased by 62 per cent.

“While the number of ransomware attacks against SMBs has stabilised, it continues to be the biggest cyber threat to SMBs. Out of the SMB cases handled by Sophos Incident Response, which helps organisations under active attack, LockBit was the top ransomware gang wreaking havoc.

“Akira and BlackCat were second and third, respectively. SMBs studied in the report also faced attacks by lingering older and lesser-known ransomware, such as BitLocker and Crytox,” it noted.

According to the report, in 2023, nearly 50 per cent of malware detections for SMBs were keyloggers, spyware, and stealers, malware that attackers use to steal data and credentials.

It added that attackers subsequently used the stolen information to gain unauthorised remote access, extort victims, deploy ransomware, and more.

The Sophos report also analysed initial access brokers —criminals who specialise in breaking into computer networks.

According to the report, IABs are using the dark web to advertise their ability and services to break specifically into SMB networks or sell ready-to-go access to SMBs they had already cracked.

The Director of Sophos X-Ops Research at Sophos, Christopher Budd, said, “The value of ‘data,’ as currency, has increased exponentially among cybercriminals, and this is particularly true for SMBs, which tend to use one service or software application, per function, for their entire operation.

“There’s a reason that more than 90 per cent of all cyberattacks reported to Sophos in 2023 involved data or credential theft, whether through ransomware attacks, data extortion, unauthorised remote access, or simply data theft,” he noted.

Following ransomware, business email compromise attacks were the second-highest type of attack that Sophos IR handled in 2023, according to the Sophos report.

It was noted that the BEC attacks and other social engineering campaigns contain an increasing level of sophistication.

“Rather than simply sending an email with a malicious attachment, attackers are now more likely to engage with their targets by sending a series of conversational emails back and forth or even calling them,” the report disclosed.

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