Cybercrime targets SMEs

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Managing Director of Mimecast Middle East and Africa, Brandon Bekker, discusses the state of cybercrime in the digital age and why, more and more, it’s targeting SMEs in countries like Namibia

Cybercriminals are becoming increasingly brazen, and there’s a very good reason for that: cybercrime has become a lucrative business and they’re winning the security arms race. It’s not just personal information, like credit card details or login credentials they’re stealing either; they’ll take whatever they can get their mitts on, from executive communiqués and intellectual property, to seemingly innocuous files. And if they can’t sell it to someone else, they’ll hold it for ransom.

The fact is, more and more businesses use the internet to offer new services and products to their customers, presenting cybercriminals with more ways of getting in. And unfortunately, the most common method of attack is the one no business can do without, email.

That’s why 91 percent of all hacking begins with email – 156 million scam emails are sent every 24 hours –because few employees have the awareness needed to identify a threat. All it takes is a single poor decision; click on an anonymous link, open the wrong attachment or even just respond to a supposedly trusted source.

While falling prey to an email scam is an easy mistake to make, it’s a potentially debilitating one. CEO fraud (whaling) is a type of sophisticated social engineering, a type of spear-phishing scam, which convinces an individual within the business to grant access to valuable information or funds to a supposed CEO or CFO, only for it to turn out to be a stranger. The combined result is a loss of US$2 billion in under two years, reports the FBI.

Then there’s ransomware, a particularly malicious form of malware that captures your data and forces you to pay a ransom for its return. Ransomware is growing in popularity, thanks to a change in the cybercrime business model. Cybercriminals want a quicker return on their investment, and selling data directly back to its owner provides a direct path to payment, as the data is usually more valuable to its owner than anyone else.

That’s why malware usage has seen an 18 percent increase in all business sectors, reports Dimension Data’s 2015 Global Threat Intelligence Report, generating business to the value of US$445 billion annually. If that’s not enough, cyberattacks of this sort bring productivity to a screeching halt, undermine your brand and its PR – because you’re held responsible for the breach – and ultimately will affect the bottom line.

You might be tempted to think that your business is obscure or small enough to go unnoticed by cybercriminals, but you’d be wrong. Virtually all data is profitable when held as ransom, and while large companies are more targeted, SMEs often do not have the resources necessary to sufficiently protect themselves. Cybercriminals know this, and have begun to target more Namibian businesses, making Namibia one of the most targeted countries in Africa, finds the World Cyber Threat Map, despite its small economic stature.

It’s sheer lack of IT security that has put Namibia in the cross hairs. Mimecast has developed extremely powerful email security solutions, like Targeted Threat Protection. This extends traditional gateway security to email, from real-time scanning and the blocking of suspect websites and sandboxing of weaponised attachments, to the detection and reveal of suspicious financial fraud emails. When used in parallel with a concerted effort to raise user awareness, businesses will be given their best shot at circumventing cyberattacks.

Put control of your data comfortably back in your hands, and safeguard it for the future of your business. Contact Mimecast today, and enable your business to succeed in the digital age without the associated risk.

*Brandon Bekker is Managing Director of Mimecast Middle East and Africa.

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