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Why small businesses are becoming more vulnerable to cyberattacks – Report

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A report by cybersecurity firm, Sophos, has revealed a surge in attacks on small and medium businesses (SMBs) globally, blaming it on their lack of experienced security operations staff.

According to the 2024 Sophos Threat Report released on Tuesday, unlike governments and big companies, SMBs are becoming more vulnerable as a result of underinvestment in cybersecurity, and smaller information technology budgets.

The report also revealed that in 2023, nearly 50% of malware detections for SMBs were keyloggers, spyware, and stealers, malware that attackers use to steal data and credentials.

It stated that attackers subsequently use this stolen information to gain unauthorized remote access, extort victims, deploy ransomware, and more.

Commenting on the findings of the report, the Director of Sophos X-Ops research at Sophos, Christopher Budd, said:

Sophos noted that while the number of ransomware attacks against SMBs has stabilized, it continues to be the biggest cyber threat to SMBs.

Ransomware operators continue to change ransomware tactics, according to the report. This includes leveraging remote encryption and targeting managed service providers (MSPs).

Between 2022 and 2023, the number of ransomware attacks that involved remote encryption—when attackers use an unmanaged device on organizations’ networks to encrypt files on other systems in the network—increased by 62%.

After ransomware, Sophos said business email compromise (BEC) attacks were the second-highest type of attack that faced by SMBs in 2023.

According to the report, these 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.

In an attempt to evade detection by traditional spam prevention tools, the report shows that attackers are now experimenting with new formats for their malicious content, embedding images that contain the malicious code or sending malicious attachments in OneNote or archive formats.

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