Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are increasingly being targeted by cybercriminals. In South Africa, 2% of every one million online users fall victim to a cyber attack, according to SurfShark’s Data Breach Impact Statistics.   

In fact, every hour 97 people in the country are tricked into clicking on a malicious link or sharing sensitive information. While antivirus programs are keeping your devices safe from many of these attacks, scammers are relying on human error (82% of breaches) to obtain the access they need. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most common types of cyber attacks being carried out against SMEs in South Africa and what you can do to protect your business.  

  1. Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks are currently the highest type of globally experienced cybercrime and are typically carried out via email. It involves criminals posing as legitimate entities in order to trick victims into sharing logins, or clicking on ‘bad’ links. Once the victim has taken the bait, the attackers can then gain access to their systems, steal data, or plant malware. 

Protect your business from phishing: It’s important to educate your employees about the dangers of opening emails from unknown senders, or clicking on links that they aren’t familiar with. Antivirus software installed on every device in your organisation can assist with spam filtering, suspicious website blocking, and firewalls to prevent unauthorised access.  

  1. Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware attacks usually begin with criminals gaining access to a victim’s system via a phishing email, or by exploiting a security vulnerability. Once they’re in, the attackers will encrypt the victim’s data and demand a ransom be paid in order for them to regain access to it.  

Protect your business from ransomware: Ensure that all your systems are up-to-date with the latest security patches and that you have a robust backup strategy in place so that you can restore your data if you do experience an attack. 

  1. DDoS Attacks

A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is a type of attack that seeks to render a computer or network resource unavailable by flooding it with requests from multiple computers. Although DDOS attacks were the least impactful in 2021, they are still often used as a weapon in political or ideological disputes, but they can also be motivated by financial gain, destabilizing competitors, or simply boredom on the part of the attacker.  

Protect your business from DDoS: Ensure that your systems are designed to withstand high levels of traffic and that you have adequate security measures in place, such as firewalls and intrusion detection/prevention systems. You should also consider signing up for a DDoS protection service like Cloudflare so that you can quickly mitigate any attacks that do occur. 

Cybercrime is a real and ever-present threat to businesses in South Africa of all sizes. SMEs need to be aware of the different types of attacks being carried out and take steps to protect themselves, such as educating employees about phishing emails and making cybersecurity a daily priority.