Malware is any software designed to intentionally disrupt a computer, server, client, or computer network, leak private information, gain unauthorized access to information or systems, deprive users of access to information, or which unknowingly interferes with the user's computer security and privacy. In 2022, small and medium businesses (SMBs) must be aware of threats in the digital landscape since they are more vulnerable to attacks as they are viewed as easy targets. In contrast, large corporations can have greater budgets and entire departments dedicated to their cyber security. Hackers are becoming more organized and have the luxury of choosing their targets. Because of this, SMBs have to be conscious of threats they face that continue to quickly evolve. This article will discuss the top 5 malware threats SMBs face in 2022.

Ransomware

Ransomware is a variant of malware that works by blocking access to a computer system until a sum of money in the form of untraceable Bitcoin is paid. It does this by encrypting a victim’s files until they have made the payment demanded by the attacker. Ransomware-as-a-service schemes allow individuals and groups to have an impact that is out of proportion compared to their skill levels, and are expected to become increasingly prevalent and problematic moving forward. As mobile phones often lack adequate security defenses and contain valuable information, mobile ransomware is also on the rise. Security experts predict an increase in both the number of mobile ransomware attacks and the magnitude of these campaigns. 

Phishing

Phishing attacks are the prominent email attacks that aim to deceive recipients in order to gain access to their confidential information. This often results in significant downtime, data theft, loss of revenue, and severe reputational harm. Phishing can be extremely damaging to your business, harming your company's reputation, compromising your confidential data, and come with a hefty price tag. Cybercriminals use phishing attacks to steal login credentials, credit card numbers, and other sensitive data and can also infect your computer with malware or ransomware. It's important to be aware of the potential damage caused by a phishing attack as it can also be used to steal your customers' information or to hack into your systems.

Man-In-The-Middle Attacks

Top 5 Malware Threats SMBs Face in 2022Attackers may also use MitM attacks with the goal of stealing login credentials, and personal information, spying on the victim, sabotaging communications, or corrupting data. Man-in-the-middle attacks have two forms, the first requires physical proximity to the victim and the other involves malware. An example of a MITM attack is active eavesdropping, where the attacker makes independent connections with the victims and relays messages between them to make them believe they are talking directly to each other over a private connection. In actuality, the entire conversation is controlled by the attacker. A hacker can be in physical proximity of an unencrypted Wifi access point, which makes it easier to insert themselves as a man-in-the-middle. Although encryption can be used to help prevent MitM attacks, malicious actors often reroute traffic to fraudulent phishing sites or pass on traffic to the destination once harvested or recorded.

Social Engineering

Social engineering is the use of deception to manipulate individuals into sharing confidential or personal information that can be used for fraudulent or malicious purposes. In recent years, the magnitude of social engineering techniques increased exponentially as threat actors can now obtain extensive information on targets by searching the Internet. Social engineering scams are highly successful because they exploit human nature. Attack campaigns often prey on the desire to help or leverage relationships with a superior, colleague, partner or organization. 

Cloud Vulnerabilities

Cloud email is a popular target among cyber criminals due to systems being too large and complex to secure. A single security misconfiguration or improper setting could put the entire system at risk due to hidden complexities. The inherent unifoMalware rmity of cloud platforms also works to threat actors’ advantage, enabling them to open any account and test their attack methods until they are able to bypass default filters, and then reuse these methods in attacks targeting thousands of different accounts.  

Despite the fact that cloud email servers are housed in highly protected facilities, inadequate built-in security defenses leave cloud email highly vulnerable to attack. Default protection is simplistic and single-layered, often relying on basic filtering techniques which are ineffective in anticipating and blocking emerging attacks and detecting sophisticated, evasive threats such as spear phishing, zero-day exploits and fileless malware. 

Tips for Preventing Attacks

Preventing a cyberattack isn’t always a possibility, however, engaging in security best practices and investing in a proactive, fully-managed email security solution can drastically reduce your risk. Some tips for preventing an attack include: 

  • Confirm the legitimacy of an email before downloading any attachments.
  • Backup your files frequently and automatically. This won’t prevent a ransomware attack, but it can reduce the damage caused by one.
  • Beware of urgency. Phishing emails often try to convince recipients to act quickly, without thinking things through.
  • Scan all attachments for viruses or dangerous code.
  • Malicious URL protection defends against attacks such as phishing and ransomware that leverage malicious URLs and attachments.

The Bottom Line

Malware is constantly growing more advanced and more dangerous, making it extremely difficult to keep your data protected. Unless your email is protected correctly, you run the risk of becoming a victim of a cyberattack. Protecting against new cybersecurity threats can be overwhelming, especially with hackers rapidly developing new strategies before companies can update their defenses. Organizations must supplement their strategy with additional security to prevent damages. With comprehensive cybersecurity defenses for Small & Medium Businesses, you can rest easy knowing you’re as protected as possible.

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