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BusinessDay

Symantec Internet Security threat report reveals increase in cyberespionage

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Symantec Corp.’s Internet Security Threat Report, Volume 18 (ISTR) has revealed a 42 percent surge during 2012 in targeted attacks compared to the prior year.

Designed to steal intellectual property, these targeted cyberespionage attacks are increasingly hitting the manufacturing sector, as well as small businesses, which are the target of 31 percent of these attacks.

In addition, consumers remain vulnerable to ransomware and mobile threats, particularly on the Android platform.

“This year’s ISTR shows that cybercriminals aren’t slowing down, and they continue to devise new ways to steal information from organisations of all sizes,” said Sheldon Hand, territory manager, Indian Ocean Islands, West and Central Africa, Symantec.

“The sophistication of attacks coupled with today’s IT complexities, such as virtualisation, mobility and cloud, require organisations to remain proactive and use ‘defense in depth’ security measures to stay ahead of attacks.”

Targeted attacks on businesses with fewer than 250 employees are growing.

Small businesses are now the target of 31 percent of all attacks, a threefold increase from 2011. While small businesses may feel they are immune to targeted attacks, cybercriminals are enticed by these organisations’ bank account information, customer data, intellectual property and the knowledge that they often lack adequate security practices and infrastructure.

Shifting from governments, manufacturing has moved to the top of the list of industries targeted for attacks in 2012. Often by going after manufacturing companies in the supply chain, attackers gain access to sensitive information of a larger company. In addition, in 2012 the most commonly targeted victims of these types of attacks were knowledge workers (27 percent) with access to intellectual property and those in sales (24 percent).

In 2012, mobile malware increased by 58 percent, and 32 percent of all mobile threats attempted to steal information, such as e-mail addresses and phone numbers. Android’s market share, its open platform and the multiple distribution methods available to distribute malicious apps, make it the go-to platform for attackers.