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Cyber attacks are gaining more attention throughout the manufacturing automation industry, however, there has been a decline in these attack over the past year, according to a new report from Symantec.

Yes, losses are up. Yes, more damage has occurred.

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To back that up more than 90 percent of 3,300 respondents across 36 countries said they experienced tangible losses as a result of a hack, with 84 percent reporting financial loss to the cost of a breach. Around one-fifth lost at least $195,000 in breaches during the past 12 months.

Symantec attributes the unexpected decline in breaches to organizations employing better cyber security defenses. More than 70 percent of organizations saw attacks in the past 12 months, a decline of 5 percent from 2010. Those that experienced an increasing frequency of attacks dropped from 29 percent in 2010 to 21 percent this year. While 100 percent last year reported losses from cyber attacks, 92 percent did so in 2011.

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Downtime (43 percent), theft of employee identity data (30 percent), and intellectual property (19 percent) were the top three losses, according to Symantec’s “2011 State of Security Survey.”

The most costly dollar-wise were lost productivity (35 percent) and lost revenue (23 percent), followed by (at 17 percent each) loss of organization, customer, or employee data; a damaged reputation; and compliance costs after the attack.

The large majority suffering real losses from cyber attacks is significant, said Ashish Mohindroo, senior director of product marketing for Symantec. “Twenty percent lost $195,000: That’s a hefty price to pay for a breach,” he said.

Even so, more businesspeople show more of a focus on security than ever before, he said.

“In the past, that was delegated to IT,” Mohindroo said. More than one-third of the respondents said security is somewhat/significantly more important within the business than it was 12 months ago.

Hackers are the No. 1 threat worry, with about half of the respondents citing them, followed by well-meaning employees (46 percent).

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