cybersecurity threat landscape

Cybersecurity Threat Landscape – Cyberattacks

Understanding the Threat Landscape of Cyberattacks on SMEs – Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity has become just as important as physical security for companies both in South Africa and abroad – and considering the number of cyberattacks that take place each year that’s no surprise.

The latest data from Sophos shows that cyberattacks took place against 78% of South African companies surveyed last year, with many attacks affecting small to medium sized businesses.

In this article, we take a look at the cybersecurity landscape, highlighting some of the main threats that hackers and cybercriminals pose to businesses, and outline the best practices that your organisation can follow to secure its data.

Cybersecurity threat landscape has never been bigger

The cybersecurity threats facing SMEs are growing alongside those facing major corporations. As the threat landscape expands, small to medium business owners need to come to terms with the fact that their enterprises could – and frequently do – fall victim to online hacking, ransomware, and phishing attacks.

The study conducted by Sophos may not have surveyed every small business in South Africa, but the fact that so many respondents have faced the difficulties of a cyberattack in the past year paints a bleak picture of the online security environment, both locally and abroad.

With the total cost of cybercrime around the world estimated at a whopping $9.5 trillion for 2024, business owners can no longer afford to hope that it won’t happen to them.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can mitigate your small business vulnerabilities and stay safe online.

Know the enemy: the top cyber risks facing businesses

Online threats that affect small businesses can be divided into several categories. These are the main ones to take note of.


This type of attack happens when criminals gain access to your files and encrypt them so that you can’t access them. Some companies have paid millions of dollars to recover sensitive files compromised in ransomware attacks, but with the right strategy you can avoid becoming the next victim.

Data leaks and breaches

While ransomware attacks involve stealing your data and holding it hostage, data leaks are almost the opposite. This type of incident happens when your data is released on the internet for anyone to see and use, thus compromising the security of your business and clients.

Not only can this be bad for your reputation and cost you clients in the long run, but can also result in heavy fines in terms of the Protection of Personal Information Act.

Social engineering attacks

These take place on social media, with hackers contacting you or your employees posing as trusted figures like clients or service providers.

Once trust is established, criminals will convince the person they are dealing with to release sensitive information or download malware. Like the two other types of attacks mentioned above, social engineering can cost your business a fortune in revenues and reputational damage.

SMEs are especially vulnerable to this type of attack since they often deal with smaller suppliers or clients whose businesses aren’t necessarily household names. Impersonation scams like the one that almost bankrupted The Big Issue last year, are also rampant.

With the threat landscape shifting to dangerous ground, you’ll need a solid plan to keep your sensitive data secure.

Strategies to mitigate your online risk

The reality is that cyberattacks can, and will, continue as long as criminals know that it pays to carry them out.

As a business owner, you’ll need to take steps so that your enterprise can function and trade effectively online.

  • A firewall, updated antivirus software, and secure cloud storage are some of the tech solutions that you can implement to keep your data safe.
  • Automated backup is especially useful because it protects your files without the need for constant conscious action on the part of your staff.

Protecting your business against social engineering attacks and phishing scams requires staff training to enable your employees to detect the signs of a cyberattack and encouraging them to always verify the identity of outsiders communicating with your business.

Soteria offers a range of secure cloud storage solutions using the latest encryption techniques for companies of all sizes.