SMEs vulnerable to cyber-attacks: Symantec

Small businesses are increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attack with more than 30 per cent of SMEs the target of online breaches, according to a new report by software security company Symantec

The report found that there was a 30 per cent increase in targeted cyber-attacks on small businesses in 2012, with those working in the knowledge industry and sales the most common victims. Moreover, small businesses were targeted for their customer data, intellectual property and bank account information.

In particular, small business websites were used as "watering holes" or loopholes to break down the security of other businesses. Other findings include:

  • Mobile malware rose by 58 per cent
  • One-third of all mobile threats aimed to steal information
  • Ransomware, or the ability to lock a computer and demand a release fee, costs small businesses $5 million a year.
  • The number of phishing sites posing as social networking sites jumped by 125 per cent

But despite these statistics,  most small businesses believed they were immune to attacks targeted towards them. A previous survey by Symantec revealed two-thirds were not concerned about cyber-threats, whether external or internal.

Here are Symantec's predictions for the future of cyber-attacks:

  • More state-sponsored cyber-attacks, particularly by nationalist activists who believe they are acting in their country's best interest.
  • Sophisticated attack techniques such as open-source malware toolkits or reverse-engineering of industrial espionage.
  • Increase in website-to-website infections, termed "drive-by infections".
  • Rise in social media attacks, particularly through smartphones.
  • Cyber-attacks on cloud computing providers
  • More aggressive malware, e.g. malware that threatens to erase hard disk information
  • Ongoing phishing and identity theft

You may also be interested in data security pitfalls - what you need to know and 5 common scams targeting SMEs.

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