When a small business owner is faced with the responsibilities of production economics, financial reports and marketing all at the same time, cybersecurity can often appear complicated and, at times, unnecessary. However, this disregard for IT security is being exploited by cybercriminals.

Kaspersky researchers assessed the dynamics of attacks on small and medium-sized businesses between January and April 2022 and the same period in 2021, to identify which threats pose an increasing danger to entrepreneurs.

In 2022, the number of Trojan-PSW (Password Stealing Ware) detections in South Africa increased by 69% when compared to the same period in 2021 – 20 922 detections in 2022 compared to 12 344 in 2021. Trojan-PSW is a malware that steals passwords, along with other account information, which then allows attackers to gain access to the corporate network and steal sensitive information.

Another popular attack tool used on small businesses is Internet attacks, specifically, web pages with redirects to exploits, sites containing exploits and other malicious programs or botnet C&C centres. While the number of these attacks decreased in the first four month of 2022 in South Africa by 13% (419 506 infections in 2022 compared to 483 846 infections in 2021), the amount of Internet attacks remains high.

With the shift towards remote working, many companies have introduced the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), a technology that enables computers on the same corporate network to be linked together and accessed remotely, even when the employees are at home.

While the overall number of attacks on RDP has decreased in South Africa, globally this threat is still a challenge. For example, in the first trimester of 2021 there were about 47,5-million attacks in the US, whereas for the same period in 2022 the number had risen to 51-million.

Having a special security solution enables attack visualisation and provides IT administrators with a convenient tool for incident analysis. The faster they can analyse where and how a leak occurred, the better they will be able to solve any negative consequences.

“With the shift to remote working and the introduction of numerous advanced technologies in the daily operations of even small companies, security measures need to evolve to support these sophisticated setups,” comments Denis Parinov, security researcher at Kaspersky. “Cybercriminals are already way ahead of the curve, so much so that virtually every organisation will experience a breach attempt at some point. For small companies today, it’s not a matter of whether a cybersecurity incident will happen but when. Having trained staff and an educated IT-specialist is no longer a luxury but a must-have part of your business development.”