January 31, 2023

Robust ransomware: Why SMEs and enterprises need protection

Ransomware attacks can have a significant negative impact on businesses, including loss of customer data, interruption of business proceedings, financial losses, damage to reputation and more. Loss of customer data is a particular concern, as this can lead to privacy violations and fines from regulatory bodies. Ransom demands can be expensive and can harm the financial health of an organisation.

For these reasons, it is essential that businesses have robust ransomware to ensure that attacks can be mitigated or quickly resolved. This will prevent extended downtime and ensure revenue and customer satisfaction are preserved. But is ransomware protection only for large enterprises? The short answer is no. Businesses of all sizes need robust ransomware protection.

SMEs need ransomware protection

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are increasingly being targeted by ransomware attacks. These are malicious software that encrypts a user's data and threatens to delete it unless a ransom is paid. These cyber attacks can be very costly for SMEs because they often don't have the resources or security measures in place to protect themselves.

According to reports, the average ransom payout rose by 71% in 2022. This figure does not include the cost of downtime, lost opportunities, or other indirect costs that can occur as a result of a ransomware attack. SMEs that are not taking cyber security seriously could pay the consequence later.

SMEs and enterprises can be targeted

While it is true that ransomware attacks can target an organisation of any size, SMEs tend to be the least prepared for a potential attack. To protect themselves, SMEs need to have strong security measures in place, such as antivirus software, malware protection and regular data backups.

Business leaders should educate their employees about cyber security basics and best practices, as well as develop a ransomware response plan in case of an attack. This goes for enterprises too.

Although large organisations tend to invest more in cyber protection, they are also vulnerable to ransomware attacks due to their size and complexity. Enterprises are often seen as attractive targets for attackers because they may have more confidential and sensitive data, as well as the means to make large ransom payouts.

Ransomware attacks affect SA businesses

In 2022, South Africa saw a number of ransomware attacks, including ones on Transnet, CashMama and TransUnion. The attacks have typically involved the theft of sensitive data and the demand of a ransom payment in order to restore access to the stolen data. In some cases, the attackers have demanded payment in the form of cryptocurrency. More worryingly, a new piece of ransomware targeting healthcare and education organisations was detected in South Africa in August 2022.

Since the global pandemic started, ransomware attacks have increased significantly. This is due to the fact that many organisations are now working remotely, making them more vulnerable to attacks. The global economic uncertainty due to the pandemic has led to an overall increase in cybercrime and new technologies are making it easier for criminals to launch an attack.

Understanding how ransomware works

Attackers typically install ransomware using one of three methods: phishing emails, malicious websites or vulnerable software:

  • Phishing emails contain links or attachments that, when clicked, launch malicious code that instals the ransomware software.
  • Malicious websites can contain code that instals ransomware when a user visits the site.
  • Vulnerable software can be used to exploit a system and install ransomware. For example, attackers may exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software to gain access to a system and then install ransomware.

Ransomware protection for businesses

SMEs can protect themselves against ransomware attacks by following cyber security best practices. This includes having up-to-date antivirus and anti-malware software, regularly patching and updating systems, and frequently backing up important data.

SMEs should also ensure that all user accounts have strong passwords, with two-factor authentication and regular staff training on cyber security best practices. Email protection tools will help prevent ransomware attacks launched from a phishing attempt.

Large enterprises should follow the same basic ransomware protection protocols as SMEs while adding personalised protection. This may mean implementing strong security measures such as microsegmentation, network segmentation and segregation.

These measures help to contain the spread of malicious software and ransomware, and can also be used to detect and block malicious traffic before it can reach the network. Endpoint protection and SIEM technologies will help tech teams detect, contain and prevent ransomware attacks. For more information or to get a quote for our cyber security solutions, email us at marketing@seacom.com or leave us a message.

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