Cyber crime costs small businesses the most

New research has found that cyber crime is disproportionately effecting small businesses the most.

New research has found that cyber crime is disproportinately effecting small businesses the most.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has found that small firms are unfairly carrying the cost of cyber crime in an increasingly vulnerable digital economy.

The report Cyber Crime: How to protect small firms in the digital economy suggests smaller firms are collectively attacked seven million times per year, costing the UK economy an estimated £5.26 billion.

Despite the vast majority of small firms (93%) taking steps to protect their business from digital threats, two thirds (66%) have been a victim of cyber crime in the last two years. Over that period, those affected have been victims on four occasions on average, costing each business almost £3000 in total.

Cyber crime costs small businesses disproportionately more than big businesses when adjusted for organisational size.

Currently the responsibility largely falls on small businesses to protect themselves. FSB is calling for more support to be given to those smaller firms least able to bear the burden of the increasing global cyber threat.

Almost all (99%) of the UK’s 5.4 million small firms rate the internet as being highly important to their business, with two in three (66%) offering, or planning to offer, goods and services online. Without intervention, the growing sophistication of cyber attacks could stifle small business growth and in the worst cases close them down.

Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman, said: “The digital economy is vital to small businesses – presenting a huge opportunity to reach new markets and customers – but these benefits are matched by the risk of opportunities for criminals to attack businesses.

“Small firms take their cyber security responsibility very seriously but often they are the least able to bear the cost of doing so. Smaller businesses have limited resources, time and expertise to deal with ever-evolving and increasing digital attacks. We’re calling on Government, larger businesses, individuals and providers to take part in a joint effort to tackle cyber crime and improve business resilience.”

The types of cyber crime most commonly affecting small businesses are phishing emails (49%), spear phishing emails (37%), and malware attacks (29%).

Small firms are also concerned about hacking and fraud when the card is not present, with the average information breach setting them back 2.2 days.

To combat this, four in five small firms (80%) use computer securing software, and well over half (53%) perform regular updates of their IT systems.

The FSB report also found room for small firms to improve security.

Currently just a quarter of smaller businesses (24%) have a strict password policy, four per cent have a written plan of what to do if attacked online, and just two per cent have a recognised security standard such as ISO27001 or the Government’s Cyber Essentials scheme.

Mike Cherry added: “Small firms are understandably focussed on building their businesses and creating the jobs which drive economic growth. The vulnerabilities of the digital world affects everyone and the responsibility for improving resilience should not be left to the group with least resource to do something about it.

Why are businesses ignoring cybercrime and cyber risks?

How can cyber security professionals help businesses to understand the cyber risks?

How can cyber security professionals help businesses to understand the cyber risks?

Business owners don’t like spending money on anything that doesn’t make them more money. Even insurance is a grudge purchase. I’m never fond of paying a high premium, but if there’s a risk that I could lose my livelihood and house if I fail to get the right insurance cover, then I accept that.

Mitigating cyber risk is exactly the same. If companies don’t do it, then they could go out of business.

But there’s definitely over-confidence in the space, and I often hear “well, it will never happen to us, we’ve just installed anti-virus on all of our laptops”.

So exactly how do you give the business that niggling feeling that encourages them to mitigate security risks? The reactive approach definitely isn’t the right way, demanding cash after something has happened to plug a hole.

The sales led approach isn’t the right way, where security suppliers force silver bullets down your throat and you end up buying something to help them meet their sales targets, regardless of how nice it makes your treasured server rack look.

It’s about taking a proactive stance, and dealing with cyber security before something happens; and being prepared to tell security suppliers where to stick their hardware if it doesn’t fit into your security programme.

I’ve never seen a business turn down a carefully prepared cyber security risk mitigation programme that fits the business. Fortunately, creating one is remarkably simple. Define scope. Carry out a security audit on said scope. Conduct a gap analysis, work out three costed options with pros and cons to address each gap, and present to the business.

But that still doesn’t mean the business will buy in. We’re missing that niggling feeling. Much as I dislike scare tactics, now would probably be a good time to think about them, with a short, sharp exercise that demonstrates to the business exactly what could go wrong in their cyber world.

Simulate a phishing email. It’s easy enough. Put an EICAR (European expert group for IT-security) malware test file on your CEO’s laptop. Take your CFO’s laptop away for an hour and simulate critical hardware theft. Leave a suspicious package in the mail room. Simulate a web server hack.

These exercises would take less than an hour of the board’s time and, while they won’t get the cheque book out, they will raise awareness over time. Throw in a few fire drills to keep their minds off cyber for a bit. Simulate a flood. The point being, over time, your business can become cyber-aware; and ultimately this loosens the purse strings and gets you that next hire and support for implementing change.

New ransomware threat- with your address

A new email ransomware that quotes people’s postal addresses is a costly new cyber security threat.

A new email ransomware that quotes people's postal addresses is a costly new cyber security threatAndrew Brandt, of US firm Blue Coat, contacted the BBC after hearing an episode of BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours that discussed the phishing scam.

Mr Brandt discovered that the emails linked to ransomware called Maktub. The malware encrypts victims’ files and demands a ransom be paid before they can be unlocked.

The phishing emails told recipients they owed hundreds of pounds to UK businesses and that they could print an invoice by clicking on a link – but that leads to malware, as Mr Brandt explained.

Maktub doesn’t just demand a ransom, it increases the fee – which is to be paid in bitcoins – as time elapses.

A website associated with the malware explains that during the first three days, the fee stands at 1.4 bitcoins, or approximately £400. This rises to 1.9 bitcoins, or £550, after the third day.

The phishing emails tell recipients that they owe money to British businesses and charities when they do not.

One remarkable feature of the scam emails was the fact that they included not just the victim’s name, but also their postal address.

Many have noted that the addresses are generally highly accurate.

According to Dr Steven Murdoch, a cybersecurity expert at the University of London, it’s still not clear how scammers were able to gather people’s addresses and link them to names and emails.

The data could have come from a number of leaked or stolen databases for example, making it hard to track down the source.

Several people contacted the You and Yours team to say that they were concerned data might have been taken from their eBay accounts, as their postal addresses had been stored there in the same format as they appeared in the phishing emails.

The UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre has been flooded with queries from people targeted by the scam.

“We have been inundated with this,” said deputy head Steve Proffitt. “At Action Fraud on Monday we received an additional 600 calls and from then onwards we’ve received 500 calls to our contact centre a day,” he added.

Mr Proffitt advised people who had received the phishing emails to under no circumstances click on the link, but instead delete the message from their system and inform Action Fraud.

Referring specifically to Maktub and the approach taken by the phishers, Dr Murdoch said he believed the scam was “significant” in more ways than one.

“It also appears to be quite widespread – I’ve heard about it from multiple sources so it seems like they were fairly successful getting a lot of these sent out,” he told the BBC.

He added that it was hard to know how to advise people who were unfortunate enough to have their files encrypted by ransomware.

For some individuals without backups, paying the ransom might be the only way to retrieve their data.

“However, every person that does that makes the business more valuable for the criminal and the world worse for everyone,” he said.

From:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-35996408#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Ransomware targets Apple Mac computers

Security researchers have found malware to encrypt Apple Mac computers and demand ransom to unlock them.

Security researchers have found malware to encrypt Apple Mac computers and demand ransom to unlock them
Mac computers tend to be regarded as relatively safe from attack, but the migration of so-called ransomware targeting the Microsoft Windows operating system to Apple’s Mac OS X is yet another indicator that things are changing.

Mac users need to be more vigilant and aware of the risks, while cyber security professionals need to equip themselves to identify and quickly respond to this new malware threat, especially in having a pragmatic approach in place for managing extortion-style threats, say security industry pundits.

“As Apple computers and devices become more popular with corporate IT departments, there’s a recognition by attackers that valuable data and resources are available by targeting Mac users,” said Vann Abernethy, chief technology officer at security firm NSFOCUS IB.

“These types of attacks will become increasingly common as the platform gains acceptance within the enterprise world, just as Microsoft Windows is targeted for similar reasons,” he said.

Ransomware is currently one of the most popular ways for cyber criminals to extort money from individuals and organisations in the form of the unregulated bitcoin cryptocurrency.

According to the UK National Crime Agency, ransomware is one of the top international cyber threats, along with distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and bullet-proof hosting services.

The newly discovered KeRanger ransomware targeting Mac was discovered hidden in a version of the Transmission BitTorrent client by researchers from security firm Palo Alto Networks.

Businesses are still getting caught by ransomware, despite the fact that there are fairly straightforward methods to avoid it.

Like its Windows counterparts, KeRanger encrypts files on infected computers with a strong encryption algorithm and contains a payment process enabling the victim to purchase decryption for 1 bitcoin- currently worth around £290.

A special feature of KeRanger is a three day delay after infection, which researchers believe was aimed at getting as many users to download the infected version of the Transmission client before its hidden payload was revealed.

By hiding the ransomware in the Transmission client for downloading and sharing BitTorrent files, attackers were attempting to bypass Mac OS security because the Transmission software is signed with a valid developer certificate, causing the Mac operating system to consider it safe and allow installation.

The discovery of Keranger is a sign that Mac users need to be educated on basic information security practices, just like Windows users have been over the past 10 to15 years.