Symantec reports cyber attacks rose 81% in 2011

Anti-virus firm Symantec has just issued its annual Security Threat Report for 2011, revealing an 81 percent increase in the number of malicious attacks last year and a 20 percent drop in the number of vulnerabilities. The company also noted that the cyber attacks that primarily targeted larger organizations had shifted their focus to small and mid-sized businesses. Mobile vulnerabilities also grew tremendously with Google's open Android platform a prime target.

According to the report, more than half of the targeted attacks, which used social engineering and customized malware to obtain unauthorized access, were targeted at businesses with fewer than 2,500 employees. The targets also now extend beyond top execs to public relations, human resources, and sales personnel. Daily targeted attacks now number 82 per day, up from 77.

Malware attacks on mobile devices rose 93 percent with Android being an attractive target thanks to its open platform. Symantec recorded more than 9,000 escalations for Android malware issues.

There has also been a rise in data breaches with about 1.1 million identities stolen during each data breach last year, exposing more than 187 million identities. The most common cause, however, was the lost of smartphones, tablets, USB keys or a backup device. These lost or stolen devices exposed 18.5 million identities last year.

The firm does note a positive development in the reduction of spam emails from 88 percent of all email volume down to 75 percent. This decrease can be attributed to authorities having shut down one of the largest botnets in the world. But phishing emails and other scams have continued.

Malware from websites is still rampant with 61 percent of those websites being legitimate sites that had been compromised. About 4 to 5 percent of business email messages also contain malware.

[via eWeek]