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How safe is your business against cyber-attacks this year?


If you’ve been following the news lately, you’ve probably heard about the bank heist where more than US$45-million got sucked out of ATMs around the world last week. If not, then you’ve at least been exposed to an internet scam or know someone who has. It’s not just financial big shots or your granny who are vulnerable to scams and attacks though. Your business– small or big, is a potential target.

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Now, the media is buzzing about cyber-security since the US$45-million hacker heist. Rightfully so as Symantec (the online security company that’s responsible for Norton anti-virus) brought us a report stating that there’s been a “42% surge during 2012 in targeted attacks compared to the prior year.”

The report includes a list the top 30 African countries that have been affected by malicious online behavior. Countries that have greater online traffic are expected to have higher levels of attacks. These include Egypt at number one, followed by South Africa, Morocco Tunisia and Algeria. Egypt sits at number 29 and South Africa at 46 in the total world ranking of 2012.

Identity and intellectual property theft are among the biggest concerns and you online presence or mobile aren’t safe either. In 2012 “50 percent of all targeted attacks were aimed at businesses with fewer than 2,500 employees.” At the same time attacks increased most on small businesses with fewer than 250 employees. So if you’re running a small business; be on guard.

Cyper attacks or hacks can have a lot to do with fueling egos. Disrupting or stealing from a massive multinational organization would be much more rewarding than hacking into your local tuck shop. Nonetheless, the smaller the businesses the more likely their cyber defences are taken for granted. “Criminal activity is often driven by crimes of opportunity,” and when it comes to the emerging markets entering the online scene, we can expect a massive market under threat.

Interestingly enough, the industry taken the biggest hit last year was manufacturing. 24 percent of attacks recorded were aimed at this sector, with the runner-up being Finance, Insurance & Real Estate accounting making up 19 percent of all attacks.

What the report found most dangerous was that companies with lesser defences often pose greater risks to larger ones. This is where the smaller company is used to “leap frog into the larger one.” Also “the number of Web-based attacks increased by one-third and many of these attacks originated from the compromised websites of small businesses.” These are known as waterholes where hackers hijack a lesser-known website and then patiently wait for other parties to engage or compromise their information that can be used against them.

So whether you’re a small business starting up, part of a multinational organization or somewhere in between, investing time and finances in your IT sector is extremely important to protect your assets and others against cyber thieves.

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