Cybercrime report highlights online threats

The continuing increase in online criminal activity is confirmed in Symantec's 18th annual Internet Security Threat Report, just published. This highlights the need for people to be more aware of the dangers of going online using any device, and taking the correct precautions to look after personal details and logins.

The theft of personal information being obtained by cyber criminals scouring the internet is showing an alarming increasing, enabling them to exploit security gaps in social networks and other sites to infect computers and mobile devices and steal personal and financial details. 

The report also shows an alarming increase in attacks on mobile devices … up by 58% in 2012 over the previous year. Just under a third of these attacks were intended to steal data without the user’s knowledge. The most targeted mobile platform continues to be Android.

Apple Mac computer users are not immune from attack (contrary to what many believe); 600,000 Mac systems were infected by a single attack last April.

Symantec's report also indicates that the use of ransomware continues to grow, with more aggressive and harder to fix infections. Ransomware disables users' computers until they pay a ransom.

Perhaps the most concerning statistic, however, is that 61% of malicious sites are actually legitimate websites that have been compromised. This means that users of authentic websites could be affected by malware that even the website owner does not realise is present. 

Norton’s security expert Richard Clooke said, "The report results have shown that it is still crucial for Norton to continue to educate consumers on how they can help protect themselves from acts of cybercrime. Ransomware, for example, a scam which disables victims’ computers until they pay a ransom, continues to be a key theme and is now becoming more sophisticated than ever…"

The key statistics in the report are as follows:

– 42% increase in targeted attacks in 2012
– 31% of all targeted attacks aimed at businesses with less than 250 employees
– 14 zero-day vulnerabilities
– of all mobile threats steal information
– A single threat infected 600,000 Macs in 2012
– Spam volume continued to decrease, with 69% of all email being spam
– The number of phishing sites spoofing social networking sites increased 125%
– Web-based attacks increased 30%
– 5,291 new vulnerabilities discovered in 2012, 415 of them on mobile operating systems

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