SMEs continue to be the focus of cybercriminals

July 10, 2023

Over 764,000 attacks on small and medium-sized enterprises recorded so far in 2023

In a comprehensive report [1], Kaspersky points out current cyber threats to which small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular are exposed. A total of 764,015 attacks on SMEs were recorded from January to May 2023. Exploits accounted for 63 per cent of these, with spam and phishing and “smishing” among the remaining attacks.

According to UN figures, SMEs account for around 90 percent of all companies worldwide [2]. A recent Kaspersky analysis now suggests that they would need to implement far more stringent cybersecurity measures. For this purpose, Kaspersky experts analysed anonymised data from the Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) from January to May 2023, which prove that medium-sized companies continue to be a strong focus of cybercriminals. This is because, compared to the previous year 2022, the number of SME employees who were confronted with malware and other unwanted software remained more or less constant (2,478 in 2023 compared to 2,572 in 2022). Among other things, cybercriminals exploit vulnerabilities or send phishing emails and fraudulent text messages to gain access to sensitive data.

Kaspersky recorded a total of 764,015 attacks on SMEs in the first five months of 2023. Exploits accounted for the majority (63 per cent or 483,980 attack attempts). These malware programmes exploit software vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can use to inject malware, gain user rights or disrupt the operation of critical applications in the company. Other significant risks for SMEs are in the area of phishing and scams. Cybercriminals use sophisticated methods to elicit confidential information from employees or carry out financial fraud attempts. For example, fake websites of banks, delivery services or credit card companies are used for this purpose.

Furthermore, smartphones of SME employees are often attacked via so-called “smishing” (a combination of SMS and phishing). The victims receive text messages with a link via SMS or popular platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or WeChat. If this is clicked on, malicious code is uploaded and the device is no longer safe. The Kaspersky experts also compared the KSN data with the most popular software products of SMEs such as MS Office, MS Teams or Skype. This revealed the extent to which malware and unwanted software is spread under the guise of these applications.

“In addition to a dedicated protection solution, SMEs should rely on threat intelligence (TI) [3], i.e. real-time threat data that is analysed in a broad context and provides an overview of the current threat landscape,” says Waldemar Bergstreiser, General Manager Central Europe at Kaspersky. “With TI, SMEs can also actively arm themselves against cybercriminals and eliminate any vulnerabilities and gateways before they are exploited. The comprehensive threat intelligence also promotes proactive rather than reactive behaviour in terms of defence and response. The good thing is that threat intelligence can be used in companies of any size. If the necessary expertise and resources are available in the company, the internal security team can work with it directly; if not – which is often the case in the mid-market – Threat Intelligence can be used via a Managed Detection and Response (MDR) service, where cybersecurity management is outsourced to experts.”

Kaspersky recommendations for SMEs on how to protect themselves from cyber threats

All employees should be appropriately trained regarding cyber dangers, for example with Kaspersky Security Awareness [4]. The effect of the measures can be tested with the help of a simulated phishing attack.

Deploy comprehensive protection solutions for the endpoints and mail servers used, such as Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business Advanced [5] or Kaspersky Endpoint Security Cloud [6], which can detect and block phishing emails.

Protect the Microsoft 365 cloud service using Kaspersky Security for Microsoft Office 365 [7], a solution that detects spam and phishing attempts and protects the SharePoint, Teams and OneDrive corporate applications.

Fine-tune employee access to corporate resources, including mailboxes, shared file directories or online documents, through policies and adjust accordingly when employees are assigned new tasks or leave the company. Cloud access security broker software helps monitor employee activity in the cloud and implement security policies.

Regularly back up all essential company data.

Use dedicated services for small and medium-sized businesses. Kaspersky offers packages with special professional services [8] for assessment, deployment and configuration of the deployed security solutions.

All results of the current Kaspersky survey on cyber threats for SMEs are available at https://securelist.com/smb-threat-report-2023/110097/.

[1] For this investigation, Kaspersky (published https://securelist.com/smb-threat-report-2023/110097/) analysed the Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) data from January to May 2023. The KSN is a system for processing anonymised data on cyber threats voluntarily provided by Kaspersky users.

[2] https://www.un.org/en/observances/micro-small-medium-businesses-day
[3] https://go.kaspersky.com/test-threat-intelligence-de.html
[4] https://www.kaspersky.de/enterprise-security/security-awareness
[5] https://www.kaspersky.de/small-to-medium-business-security/endpoint-advanced
[6] https://www.kaspersky.de/small-to-medium-business-security/cloud
[7] https://www.kaspersky.de/small-to-medium-business-security/microsoft-office-365-security
[8] https://www.kaspersky.de/small-to-medium-business-security/professional-services


Useful links:

Latest Kaspersky research on cyber threats to SMEs worldwide: https://securelist.com/smb-threat-report-2023/110097/

Kaspersky threat data: https://go.kaspersky.com/test-threat-intelligence-de.html

Kaspersky Security Awareness: https://www.kaspersky.de/enterprise-security/security-awareness

Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business Advanced: https://www.kaspersky.de/small-to-medium-business-security/endpoint-advanced

Kaspersky Endpoint Security Cloud: https://www.kaspersky.de/small-to-medium-business-security/cloud

Kaspersky Security for Microsoft Office 365: https://www.kaspersky.de/small-to-medium-business-security/microsoft-office-365-security

Kaspersky Professional Services for SME https://www.kaspersky.de/small-to-medium-business-security/professional-services

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