Why SMBs are hot targets for ransomware (and how to avoid becoming a statistic)

Although today’s businesses of every size are busy navigating data security issues, cybercriminals know that small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are even more vulnerable.

In the U.S. alone, there are 32.5 million small businesses—defined as having fewer than 500 employees. They make up about 99.9% of all U.S. businesses (Small Business Administration, 2021). For cybercriminals, that’s a wide-open field of prime targets for ransomware.

Why are SMBs more vulnerable? There are several factors, including:

  • Smaller IT/security staff and infrastructure
  • Lack of awareness or knowledge about how to protect themselves
  • A false sense of security (e.g., “criminals only target huge companies”)
  • Belief they cannot afford to implement the same robust safety measures as larger firms

Some SMBs rely on consumer-grade, off-the-shelf solutions to protect their data. But SMBs deserve a better approach to protecting one of their most valuable assets—their data, and their customers’ data. Read more about why cybersecurity should be on every business owner’s radar.

Know Your Risk

Consider these alarming statistics about the impact of cyberattacks on SMBs:

1Coveware Marketplace Report (Q4 2020). 2 Coveware blog: Size of Companies Impacted by Ransomware in Q2 2021 (July 2021). 3 Corporate Compliance Insights blog (June 2020) and 2020 Incident Response & Data Breach Report by Crypsis. 4 Stats found on www.coveware.com for Q1 2021 ($220,298), Q2 2021 ($136,576) and Q3 2021 ($139,739) indicate the average payment in Q1-Q3 was $165,53.

Here are a few additional facts that show why it’s important for SMBs to protect their data:

  • 42% of small businesses were targeted by internet criminals in 2021. Source: Embroker
  • 2 out of 5 SMBs have fallen victim to a ransomware attack. Source: Datto’s 2020 Global State of the Channel Ransomware Report
  • 47% of small firms (1- 50 employees) and 63% of medium sized firms (50-249 employees) experienced one or more cyberattack in 2019. Source: Hiscox Insurance
  • Over 4,000 ransomware attacks PER DAY took place around the world in 2021. Source: TechJury/ FBI
  • 66% of SMBs experienced a cyber-attack in 2019; and yet 45% of SMBs surveyed said that their processes are ineffective at mitigating attacks. Source: Ponemon Institute
  • There were 226.3 million global ransomware attacks between January and May 2021, an increase of 116% year-to-date over 2020. Source: SonicWall

From Big to Middle

According to Coveware, an incident response and recovery firm, ransomware continues to affect small businesses disproportionately because “the profits ransomware actors generate are too high, and the risks are too low.”

In their October 2021 article, Ransomware attackers down shift to ‘Mid Game’ hunting, Coveware stated:

“In Q3 almost 44% of attacks impacted businesses with between 101-1,000 employees, up from 38% in Q2, reflecting threat actors potentially shifting from Big Game Hunting to Mid Game Hunting.”

Awareness Inspires Prevention

Many ransomware perpetrators try to gain access to data through human error, weak or compromised passwords, or even by attempting to get a company insider to assist them. That’s one reason that Ostra advises SMB clients to raise awareness among employees about data security. Staff who are trained, aware and committed to data privacy can provide an invaluable layer of defense against ransomware.

For an inspiring example of this, read Ostra’s blog about a vigilant Tesla employee who helped prevent a massive ransomware attack at the company. Admittedly, Tesla is definitely NOT a small business—but the same principle of being prepared can benefit SMBs as well.

The Ransomware Attack that Sparked Ostra

Cybersecurity trailblazer Michael Kennedy started Ostra Cybersecurity after a ransomware attack wreaked havoc on his friend’s small business. Read the full story here.

Ostra was founded with the belief that SMBs should be able to access the robust, layered data protection tools and strategies that the world’s largest companies rely on. Ostra’s managed cybersecurity solution offers Fortune 100-caliber, 360-degree protection that allows companies of all sizes to protect their most valuable asset—their data.

Ready to learn more about how to prevent ransomware and other cyber threats from impacting your company or your clients? Contact Ostra today.