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Web Security: Everything you Need to Know to Stay Safe

Created: 29 May 2013 • Updated: 10 Oct 2013
Andy Horbury's picture
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Tightly targeted cyber-espionage attacks designed to steal intellectual property are hitting the manufacturing sector and small businesses with ever greater venom, with the latter, highly vulnerable, organisations the target of 31% of such attacks – a threefold increase on 2011.

Meanwhile, targeted attacks overall have seen a massive 42% surge during 2012, compared to the previous year.

These are just some of the worrying statistics revealed by Symantec in its forthcoming ‘Website Security Threat Report’.

Why small businesses? Because they are seen as the path of least resistance. Cybercriminals are enticed by their bank account information, customer data and intellectual property – and the often inadequate security practices and infrastructure.

However, the wider reality is that no one is safe. “If you think someone is violating your privacy online, you are probably right,” warns the report.

Some 50% of mobile malware created in 2012 attempted to steal our information or track our movements. Web-based attacks increased by 30% in 2012, many of which originated from the compromised websites of small businesses. These websites were then used in massive cyber-attacks, as well as ‘watering hole’ attacks – where the attacker compromises a website, such as a blog or small business website, known to be frequently visited by their target.

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Last year, mobile malware increased by 58%, while 32% of all mobile threats attempted to steal information, such as email addresses and phone numbers.

Equally concerning, 61% of malicious websites were actually legitimate websites that had been compromised and infected with malicious code. Business, technology and shopping websites were among the top five types of websites hosting infections. Generally it would seem that the reasons so many sites are compromised to due to the number of unpatched vulnerabilities on legitimate websites. In years past these websites were often targeted to sell fake antivirus to unsuspecting consumers. However, ransomware, a particularly vicious attack method, is now emerging as the malware of choice, because of its high profitability for attackers.

In this scenario, attackers use poisoned websites to infect unsuspecting users and lock their machines, demanding a ransom in order to regain access. Another growing source of infections on websites is malvertisements -- where criminals buy advertising space on legitimate websites and use it to hide their attack code.

Ultimately, what the WSTR report shows most of all is that, without adequate defences in place, you/your business are wide open to attacks that may cost you financially and in terms of your reputation.

We’ll be hosting a webinar on 12 June 2013 to discuss the WSTR in more depth you can register here