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September 1, 2015

Ransomware soars but UK SMBs ignore cyber threats

Latest reports from McAfee, Blue Coat Systems and Trend Micro highlight worrying trends.

By James Nunns

Less than half of the UK’s SMBs are using internet security products, despite a rise in ransomware.

A 58% rise in ransomware in Q2 is highlighted in the latest McAfee labs threat report. This growth represents a 127% growth from Q2 2014 and is attributed to fast growing new families such as CTB-Locker, CryptoWall and others.

Mobile malware is another area to see growth (17%); however, infection rates actually decline 1% per region in Q2, apart from in North America where it dropped almost 4%.

During every hour in Q2, more than 6.7 million attempts were made to draw people to risk URLs.

Blue Coat Systems research found that the Top-Level Domains most associated with suspicious websites are .zip and .review, which were closely followed by .country and .kim and .cricket.

The enterprise security firm identified a number of nefarious activities taking place on some of the top ranked ‘Shady’ TLDs. On .kim for example it discovered websites serving up pages that mimic popular video and image sites, prompting unprotected visitors to download malware.

Dr. Hugh Thompson, CTO for Blue Coat Systems, said: "Due to the explosion of TLDs in recent years, we have seen a staggering number of almost entirely shady Web neighbourhoods crop up at an alarming rate."

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In order to minimise the risk faced by businesses and consumers by the rise of these shady TLDs, the company suggests that traffic should be blocked that leads to the riskiest ones. Additionally, users should also be extremely cautious in clicking on any links that these contain.

Although advice like this has been frequently voiced, businesses appear to remain neglectful of their security.

According to research from Trend Micro, only 50% of the UK’s SMBs use internet security to protect their organisations from cyber-attack. Bizarrely, this is countered by 99% stating they understand how important it is to spend money on internet security software.

While only half are using these products, only 44% apparently know how to check if their PC or device had malware on it.

The lack of security and ability to check for malware could potentially lead to serious data breaches; however, this doesn’t seem to be a concern to many SMBs, with only 18% believing their data was worth stealing.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was found that 67% don’t understand the financial implications of an online security breach. This rose to 74% when considering the legal implications of a successful attack.

Bharat Mistry, Cyber Security Consultant, Trend Micro, said: "One of the main things that SMBs need to be aware of is their regulatory and legal obligations with regards to data security. It’s important to have breach response plan that tells staff what to do in the event of a data breach – the process to follow, who to contact etc."

Trend Micro research sampled 500 UK business owners and decision makers.

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