Targeted attacks up over 2012, SMBs increasingly at risk: Symantec

Just when you thought it was safe to get back on the Internet, the number of targeted attacks almost doubled in 2012 compared to the prior year.

That is according to the latest Internet Security Threat Report from Symantec, which also found that 31 percent of all attacks target SMBs or companies with fewer than 250 employees.

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Symantec APJ managed security services director, Peter Sparkes, was not surprised by the result. What did surprise him was that 31 per cent of targeted attacks were focused on SMBs.

"There is still a perception that most of these targeted attacks from cybercriminals are on the big end of town, such as the large financial organisations," Sparkes said.

"But this shows that the targets these days are small businesses as well."

Sparkes said most organisations are also not aware of the broad types of industries that are under attack.

"A lot people still think it is government or finance, but actually the top sector for attack was manufacturing," he said.

To support his argument, Sparkes points out that the results for Australia in the report show "a pretty fine line between all the different types of industries being attacked."

Rise of malware

As for what the 42 per cent surge in targeted attacks during 2012 can be attributed to, Sparkes said the era of mass cyber crime is starting to become more targeted overall.

"The reason behind that is cyber criminals have access to sophisticated tools and technologies to actually created targeted attacks," he said.

Sparkes said the payoff is also there.

"They are able to access intellectual property and other information that has value, and then sell that on the black market," he said.

Other key results found in the report include consumers remaining vulnerable to ransomware and mobile threats, particularly on the Android platform, with web-based attacks in 2012 increasing by 30 per cent and mobile malware by 58 per cent.

Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.

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