Survey: Most SMBs Lacking Knowledge To Protect Against Online Fraud

Despite highly publicized cybercriminal attacks against businesses and the ongoing rise of malware perpetrated through schemes such as the Mariposa botnet recently dismantled by Panda Security and others, the majority of small and medium-sized businesses are not familiar with the banking Trojans used to attain access to and steal from their online accounts.

In addition, 11 percent of SMBs reported experiencing at least one incident of online fraud These statistics are some of the key findings from an independent survey released recently by Panda Security of more than 300 executives and finance professionals from SMBs across 38 industry sectors in the United States.

Conducted throughout January, the study found that 52 percent of those surveyed had little or no familiarity with banking Trojans, the criminal software used to facilitate unauthorized access to a user's online banking account. Despite the lack of understanding about malware threats, the majority of respondents (63 percent) remain concerned about online banking fraud or identity theft in their organizations.

The study also revealed a big gap between what businesses expect in the way of reimbursement from banks resulting from online fraud versus what funds are actually returned. Sixty-three percent said they strongly or somewhat believed their bank would return all of the funds to their possession. In stark contrast to this perception, only 37 percent of the victims said all of the stolen funds were actually returned.

"While online banking security is a general concern among most SMBs, most of them have little knowledge about the specific threats targeting organizations of their size," said Sean-Paul Correll, threat researcher at PandaLabs. "In addition, U.S. law puts the burden on business owners for keeping funds secure, rather than the banks. The majority of SMBs surveyed weren't aware of this fact, which means they are operating with a false sense of security."

Throughout 2009 and into 2010, mainstream publications such as USA Today and the Washington Post have reported extensively on the surge of targeted attacks against SMBs, where banking Trojans are used by cybercriminals to gain access to their highly attractive and often more vulnerable online bank accounts. These organizations, which range in size from 1 to 500 employees, typically have fewer in-house resources and budgets for IT security, placing them at greater risk of attack. Sophisticated banking Trojans such as URLZone enable cybercriminals to access the accounts, potentially resulting in a single SMB losing thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Furthermore, destructive zombie armies, such as the Mariposa botnet that Panda recently helped shut down in an international coordinated effort with IT security firm Defence Intelligence, Spanish Guardia Civil and the FBI, continue to steal banking credentials at alarming rates.

Additional key findings from the study include:

  • 58 percent of respondents do not have insurance to protect their business from banking fraud or identity theft, or are unsure if they have any protections in place.
  • 64 percent of respondents have protective and/or procedural methods in place at their organizations to detect or prevent online banking fraud.
  • 15 percent of respondents have not updated security software on all systems where online transactions are conducted or are unsure of the status of their security software altogether.
  • To download the survey, visit
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