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Small Businesses: The Shift in Website Threats

Created: 05 Sep 2013 • Updated: 10 Oct 2013
Jimmy Edge's picture
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Last year saw a shift in website threats, with more targeted attacks emerging that were aimed at small and medium businesses. While website security should always be at the forefront of any online business, a new Symantec infographic emphasises the importance of paying attention to the findings and enforcing any necessary changes in the online presence of a SME so that they are less likely to become the victim of malicious threats.

The first part of the Infographic takes a look at some of the concerning figures that were seen last year, including the phenomenal 24 million identities that were stolen as a result of one breach of security[1]. It shows that online security is an essential part of everyday working life, with hackers continuing to play a huge role when it comes to data breaches. While 88% of breaches were reported to be due to outside attacks, the alarming remainder 12% indicates that SME’s need to be aware of their employees just as much as they should worry about an anonymous hacker.

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Over the past year, research has shown that the manufacturing industry has emerged as one of the main targets of targeted attacks, accounting for 24% of targeted threats e.g. those that are aimed at an individual or a group within an organisation. Recent figures also show that there has been a 13% increase in SME attacks during 2012 compared with 2011.

Part two of the Infographic goes into more detail about specific vulnerabilities that were witnessed over the course of 2012. A massive 556 million people were victims of some sort of cybercrime (e.g. spam, phishing and malware attacks) last year, with the occurrence of phishing using social media increasing by 123%. Typical threats included fake gift cards and survey scams, which accounted for more than half of social media attacks. Phishing websites are continuing to use false SSL certificates to lure users into thinking they are legit sites, with prevalence rising by 46% in 2012 compared to 2011. The emergence of Extended Validation SSL Certificates is one way that the industry has reacted to this rise in phishing sites. The growing use of Extended Validation SSL Certificates, which trigger browsers to indicate whether a user is on a secured site by turning the address bar Green – helps users easily differentiate between genuine and fake sites.  A small business needs to be aware that employees may fall upon one of these sites as a result of day to day browsing, so the need for up-to-date, effective internet security software – as well as user awareness - is paramount.

Any small or medium business needs to be aware of the importance of online security and ensure that they are doing everything in their power to avoid becoming a victim of malicious activity. This latest research as presented by Symantec serves to further drive this message home, urging business owners to protect their interests as fully as possible.