Symantec report finds small businesses battered by cybercrime

Small businesses are being targeted more often due to less sophisticated defenses

Cybercriminals are increasingly targeting small businesses due to their less sophisticated defenses, according to a new report from Symantec.

Companies with 250 employees or less absorbed 18 percent of targeted cyberattacks in 2011, but the figure jumped to 31 percent in 2012, Symantec said in its Internet Security Threat Report 2013, released on Tuesday.

"While it can be argued that the rewards of attacking a small business are less than what can be gained from a large enterprise, this is more than compensated by the fact that many small companies are typically less careful in their cyberdefenses," the report said.

Organizations between 251 employees to 2,500 were targeted 19 percent of the time, with companies with more than 2,500 employees making up the remaining 50 percent, Symantec said. The company said it detected a 42 percent increase overall in cyberattacks in 2012 compared to 2011.

Employees in research and development and sales functions are prime targets for hackers, and Symantec said it saw a large increase in attacks directed at those roles. "This suggests that attackers are casting a wider net and targeting less senior positions below the executive level in order to gain access to companies," the report said.

The websites of small businesses also prove attractive to criminals to plant malicious software in order to gain a foothold in other companies. If a user visits a hacked website, the person's web browser will be probed for software vulnerabilities. The method of using a company's website as bait is termed a "watering hole" attack by Symantec.

"For example, an attacker may infiltrate a small supplier in order to use it as a spring board into a larger company," Symantec wrote.

Small businesses may have less cash on hand for hackers to steal, but the companies may have other data, such as customer information or intellectual property, that is valued by hackers.

The most attacked industry in 2012 was manufacturing, at 24 percent. It was followed by finance, insurance and real estate companies at 19 percent and by non-traditional services at 17 percent, Symantec said.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securityfraudmalwaredata protectiondata breachsymantecExploits / vulnerabilities

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?