In the first six months of 2012, 36 percent of targeted attacks focused on small businesses of fewer than 250 employees, and there were an average of 58 attacks per day, according to a new research report. At the end of 2011, small businesses were on the receiving end of only 18 percent of such attacks.
Despite that statistic, those large corporations with more than 2,500 employees remain the most common targets, averaging 69 blocked attacks per day, according to the Symantec Intelligence Report.
“There appears to be a direct correlation between the rise in attacks against smaller businesses and a drop in attacks against larger ones,” said the cyber security intelligence manager at Symantec, Paul Wood. “It almost seems attackers are diverting their resources directly from the one group to the other.”
Organized by industry, the defense industry, which Symantec considers a subset of the public sector, was the most sought-after target, experiencing 7.3 attacks per day. The chemical and pharmaceutical sectors continue to occupy the second and third spots, accounting for one in five targeted attacks.
Wood claims that despite these increases, targeted attacks, those that make use of customized malware and refined social engineering tactics to compromise sensitive information, are still exceptionally rare.
Other notable findings include that spam continued its gradual decline, dropping one percent in June from May, however, it still accounts for more than two thirds of global email. Meanwhile, phishing attacks are up 0.04 percent, which, coincidentally, is identical to the increase in email-borne threats. Web-based malware threats decreased 51.7 percent over that same period.
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