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More than a third of targeted cyberattacks aimed at firms with fewer than 250 employees, report finds

Hackers are taking greater aim at small businesses, with more than a third -- 36 per cent -- of targeted cyberattacks directed at companies with fewer than 250 employees in the first six months of the year, a new report finds.

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Moreover, that figure was double the 18 per cent at the end of last year, according to the mid-year Intelligence Report from security software provider Symantec Corp., as reported in PC World and on the American Express Open Forum.

Firms in the defence industry were the top targets, followed by those in the chemical, pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries, the report found.

The reports said that small businesses are the increasing focus of cybercriminals because they are often teamed up with larger firms on major contracts. But the smaller companies are considered the "weakest link" in the security chain because they often lack the money, resources and full-time IT departments to boost their defences.

"There appears to be a direct correlation between the rise in attacks against smaller businesses and a drop in attacks against larger ones. It almost seems attackers are diverting their resources directly from the one group to the other," said Paul Wood, cyber security intelligence manager at Symantec, in a release.

"It may be that your company is not the primary target, but an attacker may use your organization as a stepping stone to attack another company. You do not want your business to be the weakest link in the supply chain."

The reports noted that many small businesses simply do not take the most basic precautions, such as making sure all software is up to date and has been patched.

Making money from Mars: five small businesses that had a hand

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With the successful landing of NASA's Curiosity rover on Mars this week, nearly the next two years will be taken up with study of the Red Planet. And to help discern whether there is, has been or could be life on Mars, plenty of technology is aboard the rover, some of it supplied by small businesses, as this Inc. story describes.

From imaging technology to a dust-removal tool, Inc. tells of the contributions of five U.S. small businesses that are helping to make history, and money, from the mission.

EVENTS AND DATES

Entrepreneur of the year awards vote

Entrepreneur magazine has chosen the finalists for its entrepreneur of the year for 2012 award. Now the voting begins. The contest, presented by the UPS Store, has several categories. Voting ends Sept. 17. For more information, and to cast a vote, click here.

Small Business Summit goes to Vancouver

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Mark your calendars for the next Small Business Summit. Brought by The Globe and Mail's Report on Small Business, the one-day event of keynotes, panel discussions, mentor programs and other offerings will be held on Oct. 4 in Vancouver. Save more than 40 per cent with the "kick-off rate" by registering before Aug. 31. For more information, click here.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Fighting perception that bigger is better

This week's Challenge: Small IT consulting firm Litcom often finds itself battling for business against the blue-chip consulting houses, and sometimes losing out to their powerful brands.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Selling the future to executives stuck in the past

In a Challenge presented last November, technology company Igloo Inc. was finding its cloud-based communication software a tough sell to big companies hesitant to adopt new technology. Read what the experts advised.

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at smallbusiness@globeandmail.comJoin The Globe's Small Business LinkedIn group to network with other entrepreneurs and to discuss topical issues: http://linkd.in/jWWdzT

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