Location, location, location. Geography matters when it comes to cyber crimes

SMBs should do their homework before setting up shop in a malware hot spot

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If you work in Maine, Ari­zona, Texas or Alaba­ma, you have a greater chance of mal­ware encoun­ters than in oth­er states. Researchers with Mal­ware­bytes found that geo­graph­ic loca­tion mat­ters when it comes to who gets tar­get­ed for mal­ware attacks. These states have a high­er rate of indus­tries most often tar­get­ed for mal­ware, includ­ing aero­space, auto­mo­tive, health care, tech­nol­o­gy and oil and gas.

What’s more, geo­graph­ic loca­tion plays a big role in how much mal­ware an SMB is like­ly to encounter, main­ly if they are in West­ern or Eng­lish-speak­ing coun­tries, accord­ing to Adam Kujawa, direc­tor of mal­ware intel­li­gence for Malwarebytes.

Adam Kujawa, Mal­ware­bytes direc­tor of mal­ware intelligence

Most cyber attacks tar­get the largest pop­u­la­tions with the most resources and the U.S., UK, Cana­da and oth­er parts of west­ern Europe are exact­ly the kind of peo­ple these guys want to attack,” Kujawa says. “When you get more spe­cif­ic, such as with states and cities, it’s usu­al­ly more about the kinds of indus­try and knowl­edge about cyber threats that caus­es most infec­tions rather than actu­al targeting.”

Relat­ed arti­cle: Why SMBs need to keep their cyber guards up

Just as you would be aware of the over­all crime sta­tis­tics for a com­mu­ni­ty before set­ting up head­quar­ters, it is now equal­ly impor­tant to be aware of the cyber crime sta­tis­tics for an area. This includes under­stand­ing the types of threats out there, how they are spread, and what secu­ri­ty solu­tions are need­ed to stop them from infect­ing your com­pa­ny network.

Know what solu­tions are available

This includes uti­liz­ing secu­ri­ty solu­tions like anti-mal­ware soft­ware that relies on behav­ioral iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of threats, in addi­tion to sig­na­ture-based iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, to stop the mal­ware that hasn’t been seen before,” Kujawa says.

Your actu­al loca­tion is just one aspect of geo­graph­i­cal-based mal­ware attacks. Like oth­er types of crime, cyber crime can build in a spe­cif­ic neigh­bor­hood. Attacks can orig­i­nate from anoth­er small busi­ness in the area that had been com­pro­mised and used as a piv­ot point to tar­get your network.

Crim­i­nals have SMBs in cross-hairs

Although some states are hit at high­er vol­umes than oth­er states, SMBs every­where are under attack. Busi­ness­es in all 50 states have seen an increased num­ber of mal­ware detec­tions. For exam­ple, Mal­ware­bytes’ research found that in 40 states, total mal­ware inci­dents more than dou­bled in the begin­ning of 2017 as com­pared to the first quar­ter of 2016. There is no indi­ca­tion that the vol­ume of mal­ware detec­tions will be decreas­ing any time soon, espe­cial­ly for SMBs.

SMBs are in a unique and dan­ger­ous posi­tion when it comes to how they are tar­get­ed by cyber crim­i­nals,” Kujawa says. First, many SMBs sim­ply don’t have the abil­i­ty to deploy solu­tions pow­er­ful enough to ensure safe­ty from the same attacks that affect con­sumers because they have small­er bud­gets that don’t sup­port sophis­ti­cat­ed secu­ri­ty tools or secu­ri­ty professionals.

Attacks often come via third parties

Sec­ond, SMBs also are now tar­get­ed direct­ly, as hack­ers take advan­tage of third-par­ty rela­tion­ships between large and small com­pa­nies. Kujawa says there are inci­dents where hack­ers direct­ly infect a small busi­ness in hopes of extort­ing them to decrypt encrypt­ed files or to infect the net­work in order to gain access to the net­works of larg­er corporations.

SMBs also make tar­get­ing easy for hack­ers, with pub­lic fac­ing email address­es and web­sites, for exam­ple. The read­i­ly avail­able email address­es could be used to send spear phish­ing emails that appear to come from legit­i­mate sources that fre­quent­ly work with the busi­ness. The web­site could be exploit­ed if it has lax secu­ri­ty deployed on it, allow­ing the crim­i­nals to use things like SQL injec­tions to gain access to back-end sys­tems and pos­si­bly sen­si­tive data.

SMBs often don’t have the means

SMBs are vul­ner­a­ble when they deal with the stor­age of per­son­al or sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion, such as finan­cial and/or med­ical records,” Kujawa says. “Unfor­tu­nate­ly, many small busi­ness­es might also not have the resources to com­plete­ly secure this data as much as it would be with larg­er orga­ni­za­tions. Cyber crim­i­nals are aware of this and uti­lize it when direct­ly tar­get­ing SMBs.”

More sto­ries relat­ed to SMBs and cybersecurity:
Want to pro­tect your small or mid­size busi­ness from a breach? Set up a VPN
SMBs must under­stand and counter new dig­i­tal risks
Cyber attacks becom­ing big threat for small businesses




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