SMEs stray onto cybercrime radar

If there is one message that resellers can take out to customers from the Symantec EMEA Internet Security Threat Report for 2008 it is about the increasing vulnerability of the SME sector.

If there is one message that resellers can take out to customers from the Symantec EMEA Internet Security Threat Report for 2008 it is about the increasing vulnerability of the SME sector.

The downturn is not just impacting those on the right side of the law but is also causing those that operate in the underground economy that operate by gaining money through cyber crime to work a bit harder to get their funds.

The consequence of the current conditions are that those that take the attitude they are too small or too poor to be attacked will have to revise their opinions.

Cybercrime thriving

According to Symantec last year has seen an explosion in the amount of cyber crime activity and its threat report will make interesting reading for anyone in the security channel.

Guy Bunker, chief scientist at Symantec, said 60% of all known threats emerged last year and there were 1.6 million new code threats making life for those that did not have good patch management and updated security products very difficult.

In addition the hunger among the criminal fraternity for information has not diminished as the rewards for getting hold of sensitive data has remained fairly constant.

“The value of goods on the underground economy is holding up well,” he says.

He adds that cyber criminals are after information and bandwitdh using botnets as a way of gaining the later with the number of bots deployed across EMEA increasing by 50% last year.

But the main change that resellers will pick up on is the extent to which smaller companies and individuals are becoming targets.

“One of the most common questions is those people who ask why they would be attacked when all the criminals would find is a little money and an overdraft. But they can get a credit card and bank account in your name,” warns Bunker.

There has been a rise in the number of phising attacks trying to get that information but people are still making mistakes sharing too many details online and using passwords based on their mother’s maiden names, which can easily be found on the web.

Threat to SMEs
In the run-up to the InfoSecurity show next week there is evidence from other sources that SMEs are facing greater threats with the Business Crime Reduction Centre (BCRC) completing a recent survey indicating that is the current situation.

“The BCRC has just completed a national survey on SME’s attitudes to electronic crime which has revealed that smaller companies are just as likely to be hacked or similarly mistreated by electronic criminals,” says Mike Barwise, blogger for Infosecurity Adviser.
“At the same time, however, researchers found that many smaller firms lack the in-house ability to tackle the problem of hacking and other forms of electronic crime,” he adds.

That is where the resellers can add the value and help a wider number of customers protect themselves.

There is a pressing need because the problem is only likely to continue getting worse. Since last year ended there has been an increase in the uptake of social media tools like Twitter and Bunker anticipates more problems coming on the back of the tendency of users to share personal information.

That means there are likely to be more problems this year and with worms spreading across Twitter over the Easter break the chances are that 2009 could be every bit as busy as last year.

The position of the UK
The UK was the second ranked country in EMEA for overall malicious activity in 2008 behind Germany, with 11 percent of the total, unchanged from 2007.

The UK was ranked first for malicious code activity which included Trojans and back doors, the same ranking it had in 2007.

“The rankings and percentages for the United Kingdom in malicious activity have remained fairly constant from 2007 to 2008,” stated the Symantec Threat Report.

Read more on Data Protection Services