Cyber Report: Attacks on Rise

Tuesday, May 1, 2012 @ 05:05 PM gHale

Malicious and Web attacks increased 81 percent in 2011 over the previous year, a new report said.

In addition, mobile platforms such as Google’s Android operating system are becoming key targets of cyber criminals, according to security software vendor Symantec’s annual “Internet Security Threat Report.”

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While Symantec did say there was a rise in malicious attacks, an 81 percent increase, the number of vulnerabilities fell by 20 percent.

In 2011, Symantec blocked more than 5.5 billion malicious attacks, and saw the number of unique malware variants jump to 403 million, company executives said. In addition, the number of Web attacks blocked per day increased 36 percent.

Targeted attacks, which had been associated primarily with attacks on larger organizations, are becoming more common among small and midsize businesses (SMBs), the Symantec report said. More than half of the targeted attacks — which use social engineering and customized malware to get unauthorized access to sensitive data — aimed at businesses with fewer than 2,500 employees, with 18 percent targeting companies with fewer than 250 workers.

Mobile vulnerabilities grew 93 percent in 2011 over the previous year, according to the report, and there was a jump in threats that targeted Android.

The relatively open nature of Android and its apps market is making the Google operating system an attractive target for cyber criminals, according to security firms.

The report also noted an increase in data breaches, with a rising concern over the issues of lost mobile devices. About 1.1 million identities ended up stolen during each data breach last year, a significant increase over previous years, the company said. While hacking incidents were a key threat — exposing more 187 million identities last year — data breaches were more likely caused by lost smartphones, tablets, USB keys or backup devices. Such lost or stolen devices exposed 18.5 million identities.