Written by Alan Norton
Posted on 14/05/2013

Small businesses increasingly targeted by cybercriminals, according to Symantec

13 reads

Research by Symantec found that overall cyber attacks increased by 42 per cent in 2012, when compared to a year earlier. Criminals are increasingly targeting small businesses, with 250 employees or less.

The largest growth area for targeted attacks in terms of business size was SMEs. In 2012 small businesses made up 31 per cent of detected target attacks, up from 18 per cent when compared to 2011.

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

Whilst a cyber attack isn’t necessarily related to fraud the information criminals can gain can leave a business at risk. The amount of fraud being committed online is also increasing.

Graydon offers a number of solutions aimed at preventing fraud and protecting businesses. XSeption’s, signs of unusual corporate activity that could be fraudulent, are included in Graydon’s credit reports. These alerts enable businesses to identify potential risks.

In addition Graydon offers Intelligence Networks for some industries. The Graydon Intelligence Service includes the following industries: petroleum, steel, timber, communications suppliers, IT distributors, IT resellers and hotels. The networks allow businesses to meet with industry competitors and discuss risks and be forewarned.

Speaking to ARN, Peter Sparkers, Symantec APJ managed security services director, said, “There is still a perception that most of these targeted attacks from cybercriminals are on the big end of town, such as large financial organisations. But this shows that the targets these days are small businesses as well.”

The report also found that the most attacked industry was manufacturing, which accounted for 24 per cent of attacks. This was followed by finance, insurance & real estate (19 per cent).

Symantec’s report supports the research found in Graydon’s white paper ‘Commercial Fraud: Managing the risk’. However data from this research showed that wholesale and retail traders were estimated to lose the most money, £16.1 billion in 2012 in the UK alone.  Manufacturing (£7.4 billion) and financial & insurance activities (£3.5 billion) followed.

The figures emphasise how important it is to be aware of how vulnerable a business as due to the sector it operates in or its geographical location.  For more information on the issues and how to protect a business download the white paper.

Symantec’s recommendations for avoiding cyber attacks:

  • Assume you’re a target- Targeted attacks threaten small companies as well as large ones as a result small size and relative anonymity are not defences.
  • Defence in depth- Emphasize multiple, and mutually supportive defensive systems to guard against single-point failures in any specific technology or protection method
  • Educate employees- Raise employees’ awareness of the risks and counter it with staff training.
  • Data loss protection- Prevent data loss on your network and use encryption to protect data in transit, whether online or via removable storage.