Nearly 40% of Nigerian SMEs Pay Ransom to Cybercriminals

Each year, the experts at the cybersecurity firm Sophos publish a report on the worldwide state of cybersecurity. This year’s report had grim news for Nigerians who have continued to become a massive target for ransomware attacks.

What is a Ransomware Attack?

Ransomware is a particularly nasty form of malware that encrypts files that businesses (and other victims) need to function. Generally, the hackers don’t release the access key unless their victims pay an exorbitant ransom. But even after paying the ransom, many people never regain access to their files.

Ransomware has been a growing threat around the world. However, in the last year, the attacks have evolved into a two-stage assault. The fraudsters don’t not only lock users out of their files but also threaten to expose sensitive information publicly unless the victims pay again or capitulate in another way.

On its own, the news is bad enough. However, the increased focus on Nigeria makes these threats an even higher risk.

How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks?

Every step you take to improve your cybersecurity reduces not only the likelihood of a cyber-attack but also how much damage it could do should one happen:

  • Use multi-factor (or biometric) authentication whenever possible. It helps to prevent unauthorized logins.
  • Secure all accounts with different robust passwords.
  • Always update and patch all software and operating systems. It’s the best way to prevent hackers from exploiting software vulnerabilities.
  • Use a VPN to encrypt your internet connections and mask your IP address.
  • Scan all files for viruses and malware before downloading. Even a simple PDF file can contain malicious scripts.
  • Double-check all links before clicking on them.
  • Backup all your devices and data.
  • Encrypt all essential data, including backups.
  • Teach your employees about cybersecurity.

The State of Cybersecurity in Nigeria

Nigerians should pay attention to these cybersecurity techniques because ransomware is becoming more common and expensive.

According to the  Sophos Report, 53% of organizations surveyed during 2019 witnessed a major ransomware attack either directly or indirectly in the prior 12 months.

The cost of the attacks, including productivity loss, business downtime, operational expenses, and other problems, topped more than $730,000.

Globally, 27% of organizations admitted to paying fraudsters the demanded ransom. In Nigeria, that number was 38%. In Spain, in comparison, only 4% of firms paid the ransom. Spain also had one of the lowest ransomware remediation costs. Nigerian firms spent almost $600,000 on average for remediation compared to $283,000 in Spain, which was one of the lowest in the world.

The interesting part is, compared to Spain, Nigeria is a less likely target of cyber-attacks. According to the Cyber Risk Index by NordVPN (the leading virtual private network service provider), Nigeria shows a low risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime, and Spain is at moderate risk.

So why is Spain such a success story compared to Nigeria and the other countries on the list? Because Spain took the right approach to cybersecurity. Companies there practiced the strategies described above and also had secure backups in place. It minimized the harm any ransomware attack could do.

How to Get on The Right Track?

Some essential cybersecurity practices have already been covered. Use a VPN, invest in training, and remember to pay attention to your emails. 45% of the attacks involve email in some form.

This number makes sense.  92.4% of malware worldwide is delivered via email. All it takes is clicking on one file to put your safety at risk.

Now is the time for Nigerian firms to start making cybersecurity a top priority. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in because these attacks are on the rise.

Start looking into VPNs as well as password managers, antivirus software, and other tools to bolster your security. Next, train your staff to take the right approach to cybersecurity, account security, and secure file backup. Finally, stay alert. Keep up on the latest trends and news, so you always know what’s going on.



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