9 cyber threat statistics all small businesses need to see

2nd December 2020

The internet has well and truly changed how we do business for the better, yet it can be a very dangerous place.

It’s easy for providers like us to wax lyrical about the new and exciting developments in cyber security technology without highlighting why good cyber defences are so essential. And in cybersecurity, forewarned is often forearmed.

With this in mind, here are 9 cyber security statistics that paint an accurate picture of the modern cyber threat landscape. We’ve also added our own analysis of the figures and a few pointers to help keep you safe.

Let’s get started.

1. “Never before seen” strains of Malware are up 63%

“The first half of 2020 saw a 63% increase in new malware detected by SonicWall’s Real-Time Deep Memory Inspection capabilities, compared to 2019’s first half totals.” (Source: SonicWall Mid-2020 Cyber Report)

The rise in brand new, zero-day vulnerabilities proves that basic, signature-based antivirus detection could well and truly be a thing of the past. In order to stay safe, organisations need to invest in comprehensive cyber security solutions that allow for heuristic anti-malware measures like sandboxing, behaviour monitoring, and deep packet inspection.

SonicWall’s TZ range of small business firewalls can offer the protection against never before seen threats.

2. Internet of Things (IoT) Malware is soaring

“In the first half of 2020, traditional malware attacks dropped by 33%, but IoT malware grew by 50%.” (Source: SonicWall Mid-2020 Cyber Report)

If your business is reliant on IoT devices or SCADA, this one’s for you. Though IoT malware doesn’t work in quite the same way as more “traditional” malware, it can be used to recruit internet-enabled devices into botnets or into mining for cryptocurrencies.

SonicWall are also keen to point out that a drop in traditional malware infections doesn’t necessarily equate to a safer digital world. Though ransomware attacks seem to be dropping in the UK, they’re on the rise globally when compared to 2019’s figures. It’s also worth remembering that though criminals are relying less on malware, they are likely focusing on other means.

3. Non-standard port attacks are on the rise

“In the first half of 2020, 22-25% of attacks globally used non-standard ports.” (Source: SonicWall Mid-2020 Cyber Report)

Let’s start unpacking this one by explaining a little about ports. Imagine the data that flows around networks and the internet as a vast, multi-lane motorway. One lane is reserved for unsecured web traffic (HTTP, Port 80). One lane is reserved for traffic related to resolving website domains (DNS, Port 53). Three lanes/ports are reserved for email – 110 (POP3), 25 (SMTP), and 143 (IMAP). There are a vast amount of different ports in use online, each carrying traffic for a range of purposes.

Even though every networked device can technically send and receive across most ports, some ports are linked to specific – sometimes quite niche – software or network functions. The older the firewall, the more likely it is that it will only examine the more common ports (such as the examples given above and a few other essentials).

Cybercriminals know this and can spread vulnerabilities through underused ports to evade detection. However, newer firewalls, like WatchGuard’s FireBox T Series, are generally able to look more holistically at all traffic coming in, analysing suspicious data flows and stopping them at the gate – regardless of what port they’re using.

4. Almost half of UK businesses reported suffering a cyber attack

“Almost half of businesses (46%) and a quarter of charities (26%) reported suffering cyber security breaches or attacks in the last 12 months” (Source: DCMS Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2020)

Fighting cybercrime is becoming more and more a part of our daily, professional lives, regardless of who you work with or for. Cybercriminals don’t just have large multinational corporations in their sights – they’re increasingly attacking smaller and smaller organisations too.

From a cybercriminal’s point of view, attacking a high-profile multinational is a high-stakes endeavour that risks national scrutiny by law enforcement and the press. This risk only carries a slim potential of high reward as larger organisations are quite likely to have invested in the latest cybersecurity measures. But if the cybercriminal is successful, they could make off with millions.

On the other hand, attacking a smaller firm or charity is more of a low-risk, low-to-medium-reward gambit. The attack is much less likely to make big bucks, but it’s also less likely to cause immediate, widespread alarm. Smaller organisations have smaller budgets to play with and are therefore less likely to have the latest cyber defences in their corner. There is less in it for the criminal, but attacking a small business can present a small, yet low-effort, payoff.

Coming at this from the business’s point of view, any kind of cyberattack can be devastating – withering finances, eating into productivity, and possibly even putting workers out of a job. Larger organisations (usually) have more cash reserves to play with, leaving them better able to weather the losses incurred by cyber-incidents. But smaller companies don’t have that luxury. The costs associated with even the smallest cyberattack could finish off a smaller organisation.

5. Two in five breached UK businesses were “negatively impacted”

“The 46% of businesses who identified breaches, one in five (19%) have experienced a material outcome, losing money or data. Two in five (39%) were negatively impacted, for example requiring new measures, having staff time diverted or causing wider business disruption” (Source: DCMS Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2020)

If you suffer a cyber incident, the costs are often much more far-reaching than simply “putting things right”. Aside from immediate remediation costs, a single cyber-incident can result in decreased productivity, staff diversions, a need for new cybersecurity equipment, a need for good cyber training, costs associated with GDPR/ICO oversight, and much more.

A single cyber incident can also result in long-tail costs too – in fact, 15% of breach-related costs are still being felt over 2 years after the incident in question (Source: IBM Cost of a Data Breach Report 2020).

6. Phishing is an absolutely massive attack vector

“Of the businesses and charities who identified attacks, 86% of businesses and 85% of charities reported receiving fraudulent phishing emails.” (Source: DCMS Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2020)

When constructing phishing emails, attackers adopt “social engineering” tricks to use our own psychology against us. Even with the best antivirus software, firewall, and intrusion prevention systems, your staff will always be your largest (and potentially softest) attack surface, so they need to know how to safely spot and report fraudulent phishing emails.

Thankfully phishing emails are quite easy to spot when you know how perpetrators use social engineering to achieve their goals. This is why thorough and frequent cyber security training is absolutely essential.

Good cyber awareness training should cover a number of topics, but it’s imperative that it covers phishing emails – the risks they present, how to tell when an email is a possible phishing attempt, and safe ways to gauge an email’s veracity.

7. British companies take 256 days on average to identify & contain cyber incidents

“UK companies took 256 days on average to identify and contain cyber breaches. The global figure was an average of 280 days.” (Source: IBM Cost of a Data Breach Report 2020)

On average, cyber breaches can go on for most of a year before they even get identified and dealt with. Though it’s heartening to know that the UK is faster than the global average (a sentiment echoed in Hiscox’s Cyber-Readiness Report), 256 days is still a long time.

This duration is really staggering when you plot it on a calendar. From January 1st, the 256th day is the 12th September. A devastating amount of harm can be done in that time. In terms of a breach, a lot can happen in a single day, never mind 256!

Quick incident detection is crucial here – the faster you spot a leak or a virus, the quicker you can isolate it and minimise the damage done. Our advice is to make use of external managed security services, even if you have in-house IT talent – two heads are always better than one! Naturally, you should also invest in solutions that are built for fast detection, including an up to date intrusion prevention system and antivirus solution.

8. The average cost per breached data record is £116.80

“The global average cost per single breached data record is £116.80. The most expensive type of data record to lose is customers’ personally identifiable information, at an average of £120 per single record. 80% of compromised data relates to customers’ personally identifiable information. “(Source: IBM Cost of a Data Breach Report 2020)

Data breaches don’t have to be huge in order to make a sizeable dent in your finances. Though costs will vary depending on the type of data that’s compromised, IBM found that the average cost per lost record is around £116.80. When you have a database of hundreds, never mind thousands, you can see how this loss quickly adds up.

Businesses have enough to contend with in terms of digital change but adding a breach into the mix could be the last straw for many businesses.

Our advice is to invest in data loss prevention wherever possible and to train your staff with regards to phishing, shadow IT, data policies, and generally “who is allowed to see what” data-wise.

9. 52% of UK data breaches are because of malicious attacks

“52% of UK data breaches come as a result of a malicious attack, 23% as system glitches, 25% as human error” (Source: IBM Cost of a Data Breach Report 2020)

Given the prominence of phishing attacks, we were expecting human error to rank higher here – though it still makes up a quarter of all UK attacks! It’s worrying to see system glitches appear so highly – misconfigured cloud storage accounted for 19% of data breaches globally.

Sadly, over half of breaches came as a result of malicious attacks – 19% of companies who suffered a breach found stolen or compromised credentials to be the cause. This further highlights the importance of robust data loss prevention solutions, cyber-awareness training, and stringent data policies.

In conclusion

These surprising statistics show just how a single incident could be a killer blow to a small business, especially during times of wide-reaching market uncertainty.

We believe that good cyber security shouldn’t be reserved for large companies with deep pockets. A new firewall needn’t be a single large capital expense – our clients have the option of purchasing or renting any kind of cyber security hardware, or spreading the cost with payment plans.

If you’re unsure about how well your current cybersecurity solutions are serving you, drop us a line and book a cyber security health check. You won’t be sold at – we honestly just want to help!

You’re in safe hands with our cyber security team