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They may be small fish in an enormous pond, but many small businesses believe there’s some security in their diminutive size. After all, why would a great white shark go after minnows when there are plenty of trout to eat?
Well, it turns out that malware has minnows on the brain, as 31 percent of malware attacks in 2012 targeted businesses with fewer than 250 employees, according to findings from Symantec’s 2013 Internet Security Threat Report.
When including data from companies with up to 2,500 employees, the percentage rises to 50 percent.
If your business thinks that only big-fish companies — think Sony, Bank of America and Walmart — need to worry about data protection, threat prevention and information security, this research should give you plenty of reason to reconsider.
The Symantec report debunks this perceived “immunity” among small businesses:
Money stolen from a small business is as easy to spend as money stolen from a large business. And while small businesses may assume that they have nothing a targeted attacker would want to steal, they forget that they retain customer information, create intellectual property, and keep money in the bank.
While it can be argued that the rewards of attacking a small business are less than what can be gained from a large enterprise, this is more than compensated by the fact that many small companies are typically less careful in their cyberdefenses. Criminal activity is often driven by crimes of opportunity. With cybercrimes, that opportunity appears to be with small businesses.
Looking beyond small businesses as a target, the report also indicates that web-based attacks are up by 30 percent. This should give us reason to pause, considering we’ve pretty much embraced an always-connected lifestyle.
Mobile platforms also have a target on their backs. According to Symantec, of the 5,291 new vulnerabilities discovered in 2012, 415 of them were on mobile operating systems.
For more information on the malware threat that small businesses face, check out the full infographic below.