Sophos Report Details Top Cyberthreats Facing SMBs

Sophos released its annual 2024 Sophos threat report, detailing “Cybercrime on Main Street” and the biggest threats facing SMBs.

Of note, in 2023 nearly 50 percent of malware detections for SMBs were keyloggers, spyware and stealers, which attackers use to steal data and credentials. Attackers subsequently use this stolen information to gain unauthorized remote access, extort victims, deploy ransomware and more.

The Sophos report also analyzed initial access broker (IAB) criminals who specialize in breaking into computer networks, with IABs using the dark web to advertise their ability and services to break specifically into SMB networks or sell ready-to-go-access to SMBs they’ve already cracked.

“The value of ‘data,’ as currency has increased exponentially among cybercriminals, and this is particularly true for SMBs, which tend to use one service or software application, per function, for their entire operation. For example, let’s say attackers deploy an infostealer on their target’s network to steal credentials and then get hold of the password for the company’s accounting software. Attackers could then gain access to the targeted company’s financials and have the ability to funnel funds into their own accounts,” said Christopher Budd, director of X-Ops research at Sophos. “There’s a reason that
more than 90 percent of all cyberattacks reported to Sophos in 2023 involved data or credential theft, whether through ransomware attacks, data extortion, unauthorized remote access or simply data theft.”

While the number of ransomware attacks against SMBs has stabilized, it continues to be the biggest cyberthreat to SMBs. Out of the SMB cases handled by Sophos Incident Response (IR), which helps organizations under active attack, LockBit was the top ransomware gang wreaking havoc. Akira and BlackCat were second and third, respectively.

Ransomware operators also continue to change tactics, including leveraging remote encryption and targeting MSPs. Between 2022 and 2023, the number of ransomware attacks that involved remote encryption – when attackers use an unmanaged device on organizations’ networks to encrypt files on other systems in the network – increased by 62 percent. In addition, Sophos’ MDR team responded to five
cases this year involving small businesses that were attacked through an exploit in their MSPs’ remote monitoring and management (RMM) software.

Read the full report on Sophos’ website.