Based on 2023 cyber-crime activity, cyber crime attack, detection and removal specialist Incognito is warning small to medium size business owners (SMEs) that they will face unprecedented criminal cyber-attacks in 2024.
Incognito believes that government figures claiming that in 2023, some 53 per cent of the UKs smallest firms were the victims of cyber-crime – mainly in the form of ransomware – are an underestimate and the true figure is much higher as SMEs ‘pay-up’ rather than publicly admit they have been attacked.
Ransomware is a particularly vicious cyber-attack where a piece of malicious software infiltrates a company’s IT network and renders part of it inaccessible until a ransom demand is paid.
Although a company can be individually targeted by cyber criminals, it is often the case that simple human error can unleash a devastating ransomware assault. For example: a staff member working from home, may save data onto a memory stick, unaware that the memory stick is laced with ransomware. Once ‘plugged’ into the company’s IT network, the business comes under attack.
Crucial company data, like customer account information, or bank account details can be isolated and encrypted until the ransom is paid.
Many SMEs mistakenly believe that they are immune to attack by cyber criminals precisely because of their relatively small size. This is far from the case. SMEs are easy pickings for criminals as they frequently have the weakest cyber security in place, believe that ‘off the shelf’ virus packages will be sufficient protection and are more likely to pay the ransom demand than large corporates.
Stephen McCormack, Head of Privacy Care at Incognito said: “Our experience of global cyber crime coupled with our own findings confirms that SMEs in particular are going to face a tsunami of cyber attacks in 2024. These attacks will lead to huge disruption, significant cost, loss of business focus, reputational damage and ultimately, business failure.
“All the warning signs are there,” says Stephen, “and unless companies take robust on-going measures to protect their data with strong, cyber security systems that can identify, isolate and remove ransomware cyber-attacks before they inflict untold damage, businesses will undoubtedly fold. It’s the Wild West out there and businesses have to protect themselves.”