Security threats can hamper a businesses growth

by CXOtoday Staff    Feb 26, 2010

Two months into 2010, and there is optimism all around-the slow down is over and business is looking up. But while Indian organizations were worrying about the economy last year, a dangerous threat sneaked upon them-insidious cyber attackers stole our information and struck our bottom lines. This year, cyber attacks are going to be more targeted, more sophisticated and harder to fight. And they’re getting much closer to our valued assets than ever before. The following is some information from Symantec on the evolution of attacks and the nature of threats that businesses need to lookout for in 2010.

Attackers are in our neighbourhood
Not long ago, cyber crime was largely limited to countries with sophisticated internet infrastructures. Today, growing broadband population and rampant piracy have made India too a hub for malicious activities. India is today ranked second in the world in origin of malicious code, ahead of countries such as China, the United Kingdom and Russia. Infact, India is also in the top five countries for all malicious activities.

The Target Is Information
It’s not just infrastructure that attackers are looking to bring down. Today, India is the knowledge capital of the world and possesses a much more valuable asset for criminals -information. Ninety percent of attacks in 2009 were driven by organized criminals targeting confidential information.

Nothing’s Confidential Anymore
Intellectual Property (IP): Today, information -specifically intellectual property such as trading models, software code or patented designs -is the new currency. However, IP is valuable to cyber criminals too.  Nobody is safe-neither consumers nor businesses. Recently, Trojan.Hydraq brought down the critical infrastructure of several business giants. Every breach can impact the bottom line, and in today’s economy, every rupee counts. Seventy-nine percent of Indian enterprises rank data loss as their most serious information security concern.

Financial Data: With the rising number of financial transactions being carried out online, bank account details are an attractive and easy target. Bank account credentials were the second most advertised item on underground economy servers. The average advertised bank account balance this quarter was $50,000. There were instances where a bank account with a purported balance between $75,000 and $450,000 was being advertised for sale for $300.

The Enemy Is Everywhere
Organized Criminals: Cyber crime is a lucrative  business, controlled by organized syndicates with deep pockets.  This means they have the muscle to quickly leverage current events for profit. For example, in a recent phishing attack on the Indian income-tax department, with users receiving offers to file returns online from the cyber mafia. Other instances include Valentine’s Day and the Haiti earthquake. Credit card information was the most frequently advertised item observed in the underground economy, accounting for 18 percent of all goods and services. The total value of goods and services advertised on underground economy servers was USD 276 million in 2008.

Malicious and Well-Meaning Insiders: Outsiders aren’t the only threat. The insider danger - whether malicious or unintentional -is just as high. A Ponemon Institute study commissioned by Symantec revealed 59 per cent of employees took information with them while leaving a job. Furthermore, a recent study on the rising risk of data loss in Indian enterprises, conducted by IDC and commissioned by Symantec, revealed that one out of six Indian enterprises is impacted by critical issues of data loss. Mobile, remote and always-on access is a security challenge to 43 percent of Indian organizations.