Cyber-crime has surged fourfold since the start of the government ordered lockdowns to curb Covid-19. Credential theft to phishing and ransomware, hackers of all skill levels have looked to cash in and done very well for themselves. Companies of all sizes are exposed, cyber-crime is not purely a corporate problem, we have seen many small companies affected.
Smaller companies face the challenge of limited budgets and hiring skilled personnel from a small generally expensive talent pool. As a result, many use outsourced providers, alas not all providers are created equal though and sometimes you get what you pay for.
Ransomware grows up
Ransomware has surged in terms of frequency and sophistication over the past year. 2020 saw the rise of the industrialised ransomware gangs as with established organizational structures to ensure the efficiency not only of conducting their attacks but also client engagement teams to provide world class client service for fast and efficient collection of funds. While law enforcement agencies globally work to bring down these ransomware organisations and are at times successful, as was the case with Netwalker who were quite successful in South Africa middle of 2020, new ransomware organisations often with members from old organisations are continually cropping up. The incentive schemes in these are such that key individuals can become multi-millionaires from the comfort of their homes overnight.
Double extortion ransomware has also come to the fore, whereby attackers first steal data from their victim before encrypting their environment. This increases the attackers ransom payment leverage and significantly increase the impact to the victim who is now faced with paying not only for the key to decrypt their data but also not to have sensitive data sold or publicly disclosed. This has seen a dramatic increase in ransom demands, many getting into the 10’s of millions.
The threat is real
Among this heightened cyber activity, we have seen 0-day vulnerabilities on widely used platforms being leveraged for large scale compromises at breakneck speed leaving security teams under pressure to apply critical patches as quickly as possible. Notably has been Google Chrome, Solarwinds, Fortinet VPN and more recently Microsoft Exchange on premise, all of which had to urge their clients to take quick action.
The Microsoft Exchange vulnerability saw several South African companies compromised. Concerning with this compromise is that even if your mail server was not compromised, we will see a surge in malicious emails from legitimate email address, necessitating vigilance around emails, requests for payments and the like.
As lockdown measures and economic pressures continue globally, we are likely to see a continued upwards trajectory in cybercrime. For many looking to find a source of income or feeling disenfranchised cybercrime becomes an attractive and lucrative option.
This should be a stark warning to companies of all sizes to be vigilant in securing their networks from this evolving threat. Industries in virtually all segments have become increasingly vulnerable as their perimeters extend to employees’ homes to support remote and distributed workforces. Patching across the environment along with training and awareness remains critical, perhaps now more than ever before.
Protecting your business from cyber threats, get an expert on your side
iTOO Cyber Insurance provides your business with access to expert knowledge and resources to effectively manage and recover from a cyber incident.
Far broader that the name implies, the iTOO policy extends to cover numerous incidents:
- Cyber extortion and malware (viruses, ransomware, or publishing of stolen data).
- Denial of service (disruption to operations).
- Downstream attack (a compromise of your environment resulting in damages to others).
- Insider and privilege misuse (unauthorised access and use of systems and data by employees and service providers).
- Physical theft and loss (both devices and physical hard copy data).
- Threats posed by third party access into a client environment.
The iTOO cyber insurance policy provides comprehensive first and third-party coverages with an expert incident response process. Visit our Cyber Insurance product page to learn more.