How much do you think access to your business is worth? Specifically, how much does it cost to break into your business?

According to cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, only $2,100 (R36,000) in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa (META) region, reaching $4,000 (R70,000) globally.

No wonder 1,270,617 user accounts were hacked in 2021-2022, according to the company’s research, after their devices were infiltrated and their details published on the so-called Dark Web. This is the invisible internet adored by criminals, drug dealers, CSM distributors and other cyber criminals, who use these servers, chat rooms, instant messaging services and hard-to-find sites to trade their infamous goods.

“Sensitive data stolen from companies during cyberattacks often ends up on Dark Web marketplaces and forums…. Not only is the company data itself for sale, but also the information needed to access corporate networks. company to organize this attack,” says Yuliya Novikova, head of security services analysis at Kaspersky.

It also highlights the evolving nature of cybercriminal operations, where some criminal gangs steal these login credentials and then sell them to other gangs to carry out the actual attack – often to inject ransomware.

The average cost of accessing enterprise systems ranges from $2,000 to $4,000, which is “relatively inexpensive compared to the possible damage to the targeted business. Such services are of primary interest to ransomware operators, whose profits can reach tens of millions of dollars a year.”

However, 42% of all global offers for such access details are cheaper than $1,000 (R17,200), Kaspersky warns, while 75% of exploits use the Remote Desktop Protocol, producing a more sinister from the RDP acronym that most South Africans are familiar with. housing.

Over the past two years in the META region, the cybersecurity firm has found access details for over 100 companies, with an average revenue of $500 million. These Dark Web offers represent 8% of all these global details, with $25,000 (R430,000) being the most expensive.

“While the Dark Web seemed impossible to control in the past, the situation is now changing,” says Novikova. “Companies can act to give fraudsters fewer opportunities to profit from their data on the dark web. Organizations should protect their data from theft through strong data security practices, including data encryption, and by educating employees on how to avoid accidentally giving access to cybercriminals.”

Or, as Eugene Kaspersky, the company’s larger-than-life CEO, recently put it on Reddit: “Stop trusting everyone on the internet.”

Cybersecurity must become a priority

Speaking at a Kaspersky security summit last month, the eponymous founder said cybercriminal gangs were becoming more sophisticated and targeting different aspects of security systems. These gangs are known as Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) Operators.

“There are more and more criminals and hackers joining the cybercrime industry and more and more people developing malware,” he says. “These are huge numbers. The numbers are frightening and it’s getting bigger; cybercriminals are more active and there are more people in this business.

The increase in these groups is concerning: “Five years ago, we had about 100 APT groups. Right now it’s around 900. Most of them are state-sponsored and use spying tools,” he says. “Three years ago, we had 340,000 new malicious apps every day. We now have over 400,000 unique new malicious files. It is our daily catch.

The problem is that the world is much better connected than it was in the days of dial-up internet. Such ubiquitous connectivity not only allows the average person to connect, but also hackers to access businesses and home devices.

Read more: How to strengthen your cybersecurity

“Today’s hyper-connected world is forcing us to reconsider how we do cybersecurity,” Kaspersky CEO warns, while the growing sophistication of bad actors means it’s “unfortunately more complicated to protect it”.

Just under a third of all security incidents in the META region involved ransomware, the company’s researchers found, mostly aimed at government, IT and industrial sectors.

There has been a 34% increase in targeted ransomware attacks in Africa. Globally, 53% of infiltrations occur through publicly-facing apps, followed by compromised accounts (18%) and malicious emails (14%).

Surprisingly, according to Ayman Shaaban, head of digital forensics and incident response at Kaspersky, “in 30% of security incidents, attackers used legitimate tools used by organizations”.

Cybersecurity is now absolutely essential for any business, as important as productivity software or staff talent. This is especially true in the context of countries like China, Russia, and North Korea that actively encourage hackers to attack Western targets, or at best look the other way when they do. Like the invasion of Ukraine, where cyberattacks are as much a part of Russian strategy as tanks and missiles, cyberwarfare is increasingly part of the attacks of these rogue regimes.

Ransomware is also on the rise worldwide and businesses need to have backups of their data or they risk being at the mercy of cybercriminals. Many desperate and stupid companies attempt to pay the ransom – again in cryptocurrency – but rarely see their data returned. Why would a blackmailer stop blackmailing a victim stupid enough to pay the first time?

This article first appeared in the Financial Mail.

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