Overall malware attacks against SMBs increased 81% from Q2 to Q3 in 2017, new research from WatchGuard Technologies found.

A key growth factor is more script-based attacks, which saw a 20x increase in Q3, the report said. Scripting threats, including fake Python libraries, account for two-thirds of all malware, WatchGuard said.

SEE: Quick glossary: Malware (Tech Pro Research)

In its report, WatchGuard estimated that it came across more than 19 million malware variants in Q3 along. The holiday season could contribute to that number growing in Q4 this year, the report said.

The report, which focuses on SMBs, suggests smaller companies need more layered security and threat prevention.

“Staying vigilant regarding these developments is half the battle,” Corey Nachreiner, CTO at WatchGuard Technologies, said in the press release. “Every business can better protect themselves and their stakeholders by employing multiple layers of protection, enabling advanced security services and monitoring network logs for traffic related to the top threats mentioned in this report.”

The report also suggested legacy antivirus software may not be enough, although it made a marked improvement in catching new malware in Q3. Prior, it had been missing malware at increasing rates, with the highest rate at 47% in Q2. Instead, the report recommends behavioral detection solutions.

Multiple security threats made headlines this year, from large data breaches to the growing fileless malware threat. With tech executives losing sleep over security concerns heading into 2018, there are ways to protect your company. Check out Tech Pro Research’s suggestions for creating security policies to protect your business’ data.

And, with a few weeks left in the holiday shopping season, shoppers can avoid vulnerabilities with our list of tips to avoid a hacked holidays.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Malware attacks against SMBs grew 81% in Q3, WatchGuard Technologies research found.
  2. Script-based threats played a key role in the increase, appearing 20 times more in Q3 than in Q2, and accounting for two-thirds of all malware attacks in the quarter.
  3. The report estimated that traditional malware and script-based threats would continue to grow in the holiday shopping season as hackers look for vulnerable online shoppers.