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Report Finds Increase in Malware, Targeted Attacks at Medium-Sized Businesses

According to Symantec’s annual Internet Security Threat Report, malicious attacks increased 81 percent from last year while social engineering and targeted attacks increased as well. The report also found that targeted attacks are increasing against medium-sized businesses.

Anti-virus company Symantec has said to have seen an 81 percent increase in the number of malicious attacks they blocked in 2011 from the previous year. This significant increase is the result of the large and growing number of malware programs and kits lurking online. The number of unique strands of malware grew to 403 million on computers, according to the report, along with 4,000 unique strands of mobile malware. In terms of where these infections occur, the report notes that religious websites have the highest number of threats on average, which are often scareware or fake AV programs, while the Android OS is where the majority of mobile malware threats exist. Malware is also spreading more frequently through attacks via social networks.

The Internet Security Threat Report also found an increase in targeted attacks, to include social engineering and customized malware, against organizations in 2011. Also, these attacks branched out to attack medium-sized businesses in addition to large enterprises or organizations. It was found that half of all targeted attacks were aimed at organizations with less than 2,500 employees while nearly 20 percent were targeted at organizations with less than 250 employees.

In sum, malicious threats and attacks are both increasing and diversifying, although there were some positive trends spotted in the report as well. The volume of email spam decreased 20 percent in 2011, and this is likely a result of the investigation and takedown of the Rustock botnet by the U.S. Marshals Service and Microsoft in March 2011, which was said to be the world’s largest source of spam at the time.

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