Experts have warned of a growing number of highly targeted malware attacks against small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) .
Data from Symantec.cloud shows that 40 per cent of targeted attacks are directed against SMB customers, where a subject was actively researched and custom malware created for a small number of targets within a firm. This compares to just 28 per cent of targeted attacks being directed against larger companies.. This compares to just 28 per cent for larger companies.
"The common thread in these kinds of attacks is the level of research on the individual target," Martin Lee, senior software engineer at Symantec.cloud, told V3.co.uk.
"The attacks are crafted to have some relevance to the interests of the recipient. The malware is bespoke and written for a specific purpose, not like the vast majority of malicious code."
The top targets in the SMB sector are research companies, particularly those in the defence or aerospace industry or that hold valuable intellectual property. Smaller government bodies make up around a third of attacks.
While the source of the attacks is unknown, some have been tracked to Asian and Pacific Rim countries. Motives are difficult to establish, but the malware does not go for traditional financial targets alone.
The number of such attacks is relatively small, around 85 a day compared to the 500,000 malware samples blocked by Symantec.cloud in the same period. But the specific targets, and deep complexity, of the attacks are raising alarm bells.
"We're matching characteristics, checking for hidden machine code and decryption routines in attachments, but there's a very low number of samples. These are real masters at writing malware," he said.
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