Sept. 22, 2004--According to a new report released Monday, doing business online is becoming increasingly more dangerous, especially for small businesses.

The study, conducted by Symantec, a global force in the information security space, highlights the growing concerns for e-commerce and the migration of malicious intent on the Internet away from activist and toward criminal profiteers.

"We're no longer talking about the male teenager with the low moral compass, or the 'hactivist," said Vincent Weafer, senior director of Symantec Security Response. "These people are targeting e-commerce and they're often backed by organized crime."

Fortifying Weafer's gloomy conclusion is the fact that e-commerce was specifically targeted far more than any other industry, 16%, marking a 400% increase from the previous study conducted only six months ago. Small businesses on the Web received the second most attacks on the list.

Another alarming trend revealed more attacks were coming from outside American borders, with America initiating 37% of the total attacks, down from 58% in the previous study. In addition, hackers are stepping up the production efforts of malicious code, pumping out almost 4,500 new Windows viruses and worms in six months--that's four times more than a year ago.

The study also showed that Adware is becoming more of a nuisance, making up six of the top 50 malicious code submissions on this study.

The report also paints a darker picture for those who use mobile devices with the birth of the first ever worm targeted to attack handheld devices. Named Cabir, this worm specifically targeted Bluetooth devices and, as the study ominously predicted, this problem will only get worse.

Symantec gathered the information using 20,000 security devices gathering malicious code from more than 120 million client, server, and gateway systems deployed in more than 180 countries.