Frauds involving electronic transfers of funds from the accounts of small and midsize companies that bank online exploded last year. A recent survey of smaller businesses by the Ponemon Institute and Guardian Analytics found 55% had experienced fraud in 2009, with 58% of that involving online banking.

"We've really seen a marked increase in the level and severity of fraud attacks perpetrated on the small business community," says Terry Austin, CEO of San Francisco-based Guardian, which provides fraud detection software for banks.

Regulators have taken notice, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. among the agencies that have issued warnings.

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