Home » ransomware removal windows 10 » Why Small and Medium-Sized Professional Services Firms Are A Major Target For Ransomware Attacks

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You might think ransomware attacks only concern larger companies and institutions if all you pay attention to is the headlines. The headlines that make the news are often filled with eye-popping numbers. The numbers can either be the amount of ransom sought or the restoration costs. One more category of attacks that hits the headlines is linked to services such as schools and police, which, when get disrupted, trigger concern. If a tech firm, bank, or other renowned institution goes offline for several days, it often makes the news.

And that is why we don’t hear much about ransomware cases linked to small and mid-scale companies. But in effect, individuals and small businesses are equally at risk. They, too, can be affected by malware attacks that are fully automated. Such attacks are carried out in numerous ways. It could be a malicious video advertisement or spam mail— whatever it is; it poses huge risks. When attacks are made on individuals, anything seemingly important to the person is kept hostage. Maybe a couple of important photos, an important list of customers, or a novel’s final draft written by the person in question. Because this particular file is so important for the victim, they end up paying the ransom to get their digital assets back.

These people have always been the major targets with regards to ransomware attacks. Malware attacks are rampantly carried even today when cloud services and automatic ways of data duplication make it so easy to backup data. Another category of victims that bears the brunt is small to mid-scale companies, many of which offer professional services like financial or legal consultation. Small businesses make up much of a country’s economy and are often the largest employers. Ransomware has a significant impact on this sector, which is unlike other industries.

Statistics that reveal the truth—

According to a set of stats released by Coveware in 2020, companies having less than 1000 employees accounted for over 70% of ransomware cases, while 60% of ransomware victims earned under $50 million in revenues. Industry-wise, more than 25% of ransomware victims are in professional services. This vertical is the most prone to attacks, followed by the public and healthcare sectors. Cases in these sectors account for 11.6% and 11.3%, respectively. Despite that, they receive all the attention. The other categories contribute to less than 10% of the cases.

These professional service companies absorb more ransomware attacks than they should, despite only accounting for a small chunk of a country’s total business.

Why small and medium-sized companies are targeted more?

These small and mid-scale firms are targeted for a variety of reasons. Smaller companies with just a few staff members may not have a separate, fully functional IT department to implement best cybersecurity practices and use high-end security tools. These companies usually have one or two tech people who keep everything running. They may also outsource the job of cyber security management to any regular tech service provider.

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They generally have simple access control policies with inadequate network arrangements and are often without anti-ransomware protection. Their focus is more on ensuring that everyone can access what they want to access rather than making sure nobody has access to what they shouldn’t be accessing. Their backups might be weak, ineffectively tested, or non-existent. Even though they read about such extortions, they might not see that they could be the next victim of ransomware. Therefore, they don’t take the necessary precautions to protect themselves. This can lead to them believing that they are too insignificant to be under an attacker’s radar. But as a matter of fact, every computer with an internet connection is a potential target. Ransomware makes economic sense, so threat actors are naturally more interested in soft targets with higher vulnerabilities.

The economics involved—

Cyber extortion, like other financially motivated crimes, is based on some fundamental economic power laws. Legitimate goods are defined by an investment, an expense to sell, and a profit margin. Illegitimate acts meant for raking in money, such as extortion, are also the same. It requires money in order to organize and execute a ransomware attack. The average ransomware attack, just like any legitimate company, has a monetization and a success rate. Besides, the threat actors expect to make a profit. The rational economic theory predicts that an economically motivated person will try to maximize his profits. It is harder to attack targets that are larger and better protected. These attacks require more expertise and time to prepare. On top of that, some attacks can only be reliably used once.

These attacks are more difficult and take longer to complete. Negotiations can last for days or even weeks. There is also a high chance of an attack being detected and blocked. Sometimes, the attacker is surprised by a system change that ends all of his hard work. At other times, the victim refuses to pay the ransom. The ransom demanded is often an indication of the effort and risk involved in the ransomware attack.

The small and mid-scale businesses are becoming more vulnerable than ever—

Ransomware attackers are attracted to smaller companies because they can and will pay reasonably attractive sums in a bid to avoid risk and effort. As for attackers, an attack on a faulty network calls for less investment and expertise. This is primarily due to the easy availability of low-cost Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) credentials. Due to the rapid growth in the buying and selling RDP credentials stolen through previous breaches or leaks, their prices for small businesses have fallen down to something around $100. A simple, under-secured RDP network can make it easy to carry out extortion. This is in contrast to the hours or weeks required to penetrate, navigate and hurt a more complex business.


What should you do to tighten security if you fall in the small and mid-sized business category?

Compromised RDP has been the main vector of ransomware for many years, accounting for more cases than you can imagine. But then it is easy and cheap to secure. Although putting money in a next-generation firewall, corporate VPN, response systems, end-point detection apart from the well-trained personnel to run them will make things safer, the initial steps require even less resources. The initial measures include implementing an IP whitelist to ensure limited sources of attack, having new port numbers to make your company less visible, and creating lockout provision in order to create a shield against brute-force attacks.

Least-privilege access regulation should be a standard best practice. This will ensure that only the users who need it can have it. It is essential to have two-factor authentication apart from the usual Id-Pw entry requirement. This is particularly important for admin rights holders. Requiring it at top levels will minimize privilege escalation. There’s a good chance that you will be a victim if you handle IT at a small to medium-sized professional services firm. However, a few simple protections can help you get out of the vulnerable category and protect your income, data, and personal information.

If you want the easiest way to tighten your company’s cyber security, opting for anti-ransomware software should be the best bet. More specifically, if you are looking for ransomware removal windows 10then you will have to search for a more targeted anti-ransomware solution.


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