Oct. 11, 2005--With large companies thoroughly protected, web criminals have begun targeting smaller victims, according to a report on Internet security released Wednesday.

Internet security firm Websense found that phishers, who pose as legitimate parties in an attempt to get people to give up personal information, had begun avoiding larger financial institutions with established security measures. The report also revealed that the number of malicious websites doubled in the two-month-span between April and June of this year. Spyware sites and applications more that doubled in the first half of the year.

The report was released at the beginning of October, which Congress declared as "National Cyber Security Awareness Month." Education programs, mainly conducted by the National Cyber Security Alliance, are aimed at raising awareness in an attempt to reduce the amount and instances of cyber crime. The NCSA has updated its website, www.staysafeonline.org, with tips and suggestions for keeping networks secure and includes a section devoted to small business. The non-profit organization has also scheduled workshops and other educational events throughout the country.

One of the members of the NCSA, Microsoft, has recently begun focusing on small business. he company announced new security programs made for businesses would begin testing by the end of the year. These programs, and those of Symantec and McAfee, are marketed to fight Internet crimes like spyware, mailicious spam, and viruses.