Did you know that if all Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) were to close, GDP and world economies would collapse? SMEs are a fundamental part of the heart and economic engine of our society, representing 90% of all businesses globally. According to the World Bank and Statista, approximately 332.9 million businesses contribute up to 40% of national income (GDP) in emerging economies, playing a key role and adding value in every sector of the economy.
Check Point Software Technologies has shared in their last reports that SMEs are one of the most recurrent targets of cyberattacks. However, investment in cybersecurity continues to be placed on the back burner for many of these businesses.
Only a quarter of SMEs are prepared
According to Check Point Software’s SMB Report 2022 based on survey of over 1,000 small and medium sized businesses across the US, Germany, UK and Singapore, only 22% of the SMEs felt that they were adequately prepared for a cyber attack, and only a minority have internal security specialists or are working with a third party.
In Singapore, 66% of the SMEs surveyed in the above SMB Report did not mandate their remote employees to go through added security training measures. In today’s technology space where the majority have embraced remote working, and fast tracked the adoption of cloud, mobile, and SaaS technologies, this is especially worrying. After all, human errors and negligence are one the most common way hackers get into a company’s system.
While it seems counter-intuitive to spend more money on additional staff training and security measures in today’s recessionary climate, the increasingly high costs associated with the outcomes of a cyberattack can be devastating, and lead to the complete closure of an SME. The situation is even more pressing as an organization in Singapore is being attacked 1,269 times per week on average in the last 6 months, according to the CheckPoint Intelligence Report.
Ransomware attacks can debilitate a business
In recent years, methods used in cyberattacks have evolved drastically, giving rise to new exploits like double and triple extortion ransomware attacks, in which multiple layers of the supply chain get affected. After a company’s data gets compromised and held for ransom, users or partners affected by the breach are contacted again and asked for more money.
Muhammad Yahya Patel, Lead Security Engineer at Check Point Software shares “Ransomware gangs were typically less organized than other groups up until a couple of years ago. Now they are becoming far more steadfast in their approach, exploiting large-scale vulnerabilities and executing double and triple extortion to settle their demands.”
Here are some tips to ensure that SMEs can remain safe from such ransomware attacks and other forms of cybercrime:
- Regular backups: One of the main objectives of ransomware is to disable access to data. In this way, and sometimes with the added threat of deletion, cybercriminals seek ransom payments from their victims. Generating and storing automated backups of data allows companies to recover quickly from these cyberattacks, minimizing the incidence of these attacks.
- Update devices on a recurring basis: There are many SMEs and users who do not immediately update when an update arrives or leave it for later, which is a terrible mistake. The purpose of applying patches and updates is to plug or fix any vulnerabilities present in the device or application. This is a critical component in the defense against ransomware attacks. Failure to do so allows cybercriminals to take advantage of the latest exploits discovered, targeting their attacks on systems that are still vulnerable.
- User authentication: Just as we do not share our passwords, it is equally crucial for companies to ensure that only the right people have the necessary access. A recurring type of cyberattack focuses on Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) access with stolen user credentials. Using a two-factor user authentication adds an additional layer of defense to prevent attackers from making use of these compromised passwords or accounts.
- Reducing the attack surface: Given the high potential cost of a ransomware infection, the best strategy is to focus on a strategy of prevention, preventing attacks before they are deployed rather than the current traditional detection (which means the organization is allowing the attack to take place and then rushing to mitigate the attack).
- Deploy an anti-ransomware solution: Given its data encryption methodology, ransomware leaves a unique digital footprint when it executes on a system. Anti-ransomware solutions are designed to identify these traces and detect these attacks more efficiently.
- Cybersecurity training and awareness: Most malware targeting SMEs are often spread via phishing emails, and the weakest link in the chain is often employees. It is therefore crucial to train employees on how to identify and avoid potential threats of this type with training and support of relevant security tools.
“Hybrid working has complicated security for SMEs, fostering the need for a simple, consolidated security platform. More and more companies want to invest in cybersecurity to safeguard and drive business growth” says Rebecca Law, Country Manager, Singapore, Check Point Software Technologies.
“However, with the growing shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals, they need a solution that offers full coverage protection without complicated installation and integration processes, preferably one that delivers proven threat prevention and the flexibility of an ‘all-in-one’ solution that combines security and internet connectivity,” she concludes.