What Motivates Cybercriminals to Target SMEs?

Stephen J. Sharkey

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It’s easy to think your business won’t be targeted by cybercriminals; you have anti-virus, spam filters and network firewall in place. Plus all your IT guy is recommending is a sonic wall and you’ll get around to that someday soon. However the landscape has changed. You’re operating in a cloud based world on multiple devices in many locations. You’re opening your business up to as much risk as the big guys except the big guys might have a more robust cyber security solution in place.

Need some help understanding cyber security? Book a meeting and talk to me today.

Your Business isn’t that Special: You’re Easy Picking

You’re probably thinking why would anyone bother targeting my business? I’m only a small tadpole in a large ocean. You’re right, you aren’t that special, you aren’t targeted: your weaknesses are targeted. Combined a bunch of tadpoles make for a nice big easy catch. It’s as easy to target 500 small businesses with a simple piece of malware that will get quickly through the cracks as targeting one large corporate with a much more complex piece. Cybercriminals are looking for easy money and an easy job, small businesses are tadpoles for cybercriminals.


The Profile of Cybercriminals has changed

Cyber criminals are no longer consigned to the “geek” in their bedroom looking to massage their cyber egos. Cyber cartels, much like the traditional crime gangs we read about in our daily (online) papers, operate in the vacuum of the darkweb and are transnational. They utilising crimeware, AKA – Cybercrime-As-A-Service. Today’s cyber criminals are well informed, highly skilled and work in an organised calculated manner.

What type of Data are Cybercriminals looking for?

Everyone is a target, everyone has data and data is a commodity to be sold and traded, for as little as $1.60 a record… but what type of data?

  • Banking details
  • Credit/Debit card data
  • Employee payroll data
  • Software company release data
  • Your child’s favourite app and those top 10 questions they had to answer to download it…

They aren’t fussy about the data as long as it has some meat to it!

What Motivates Cybercriminals?

You probably already guessed it but cybercriminals are motivated by the easy money, in particular bitcoins. Cold hard cash is difficult to turn a blind eye to. Cyber security expert Eugene Kaspersky made this point in Dublin recently saying that ‘It’s not possible to get the hackers to fight for the right side because they earn more money’. The recent CryptoWall attacks have resulted in $325M of Bitcoins been tracked in the past year alone…

Bitcoins are more valuable than you might think

If you are a victim of ransomware and you are asked for 10 bitcoins, you might think “okay, that’s fine, we can take the hit and absorb that to get back the file.” Quick research identifies that 1 bitcoin is currently worth approximately €550 euro, multiplied by 10 and you have a significant hole burned in your monthly budget, with no guarantees of the file getting released.

What can you do to protect your Business from Cybercriminals?

As a business owner, you and your board need to realise that you are responsible, not the IT company you outsourced to handle cyber security for you. The recently introduced EU Cyber Security Directive and General Data Protection Regulation will require mandatory breach announcements within three days of a cyber-attack. Each EU member state is required to have both in place by May 2018 or before.

In conjunction with this, there will be punitive fines with these breaches, think about how that will hurt your bottom-line. These fines will be up to €10M or 2% of global turnover for a cyber security breach and up to €20M or 4% of global turnover.

To protect yourself, you need to educate yourself on Cyber Security, know what you need to protect and always remember that this area must start from the top down, as this is not just about IT any more, but everyone in your organisation.

To learn more, please contact me on ssharkey@magnet.ie or Book a meeting and talk to me today.


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