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Report finds surge in on-line attacks

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Internet attacks on businesses and other organizations increased by about 28 per cent in the second half of 2004 compared with the first six months of the year, and hackers are setting their sights on the rapidly emerging mobile-computing market, warns a report on Internet security to be released Monday.

On average, businesses and other organizations received 13.6 attacks on their computer systems every day in the second half of 2004. That's up from 10.6 attacks in the first half of the year, says the report by Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec Corp., which makes the popular Norton anti-virus software and other security products.

“There's all sorts of malicious code out there increasing in frequency and severity,” said Dean Turner, executive editor of the Symantec Internet Security Threat Report. “Users have to make themselves aware.”

The burst in activity follows a shift in the motivations of attackers. Where the hacker community once sought notoriety, today it is largely a vast network of crooks going after other people's money, experts say.

The trend will continue upward this year. “Phishing attacks are difficult to defend against. As the sophistication of spoofed e-mail and Internet sites increases, it will become more difficult for users to determine what is legitimate and what is not.”

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