3 Popular Cyber Attacks Against African Small Businesses

largest breaches with leaked user credentials
user accounts leaked online (screenshot: haveibeenpwned.com)

In such tough economic times, a business owner is focused on get more products and services to clients to get more income rather than securing business data and systems

However, with the attention of business owner diverted elsewhere, cyber attackers are aggressively increasing cyber attacks against small businesses in Kenya between January and April 2022 compared with the same period last year, according to Kaspersky reports on IT News Africa

3 popular Cyber attacks  against African small businesses

  1. Password stealing malware (trojan-psw) attacks: Once introduced on your machine, malware looks for account, login and administrator credentials that are collected and sent back to the attacker giving them full access to business systems and sensitive data. These attacks increased by 16 percent compared with last year.

    Solution: enable two-step verification on business systems and accounts where it is supported. And once business credentials are suspected to be breached, they should be immediately changed in every system where they are used. 

  2. Internet attacks: These attacks happen when your online assets such as websites, social media and online portals are infected with malicious software that redirects a visitor to these page to another webpage controlled by an attacker.

    In some situations, an infected webpage can grant attackers full access to core systems as in the ransomware attack against the bank of Zambia. These attacks increased by 47 percent of up to 130,111 infections compared with 88,455 in 2021.

    Solution: keep assets updated with latest software patches from software suppliers. 

  3. Remote desktop protocol (RDP) attacks: Considering that the pandemic has forced many businesses to allow employees to work from home (WFH), businesses have enabled RDP on corporate systems, a feature that allows a user to login to a company computer systems from the comfort of their home.

    RDP feature was limited in use before the pandemic, since majority of businesses required employees to be physically present at the office to login and access company data and systems. Attacks against RDP-enabled systems are challenging and increasing the world-over rising to over 51 million in the US in the first half of 2022, according to the IT news Africa.

    With attackers combing through previous breaches searching for leaked usernames and passwords, some of which are still enabled to login to RDP-enabled business systems granting an attacker easy access to sensitive business data. Leaked credentials are an attackers tool to blackmail employees via phishing on social media sites and sextortion emails.

    Solution: enable two-step verification via mobile phone tokens in combination with password login. And periodically require users to change and set strong passwords, and not share 

Keeping cyber attackers from disrupting a business is no easy feat, and over 60 percent of small businesses go bankrupt after a ransomware attack. Doing business online comes with many benefits such as reaching a wider client audience, though dangers associated with using several technologies for business must be reduced with implementing at least basic security measures, such as:

  • taking offline backups
  • conducting periodic staff training
  • creating concise company policies
  • patching assets with critical updates when they become available and 
  • ensuring proper configuration of default settings on business systems before connecting them online. 
  • keep a handy list of ransomware decryptors, as part of an incident plan for use incase of a ransomware attack.
  • Increase your cybersecurity knowledge and skills with free online courses - part I, II and III
  • segmenting your business network to keep systems with sensitive data on a separate network from everything else.

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