Cyber-crime on the increase everywhere

By Vicky Burger, ITWeb portals content / relationship manager
Johannesburg, 31 Mar 2008

How can cyber-crime, malware and botnets be combated and what are the global trends?

Cyber-crime gurus Renaud Bidou, senior security specialist at Radware; Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Lab; and Ian Melamed, principal consultant at Shaya InfoSec, will provide insight into these issues at the ITWeb Security Summit 2008.

Bidou believes most of the security issues the world faces today involve botnet activities. Botnet is a term for a collection of software robots, or bots, which run autonomously and automatically, Bidou states.

"They are like living systems," he explains. "They need to be fed with new machines to compromise, new attacks to launch, and new data to steal. If one can starve this body, the botnet will have less and less energy and will no longer be a threat."

<B>Security Summit 2008</B>

More information about the ITWeb Security Summit 2008, which takes place on 6, 7 and 8 May at Vodaworld, Midrand, is available online here.

The effects of all botnets can be combated, he says. However, numerous security devices must then be deployed over networks, and the human, financial and expertise costs make it almost impossible, he adds.

According to Kaspersky, the biggest problem for all anti-virus vendors is the sheer number of malicious programs circulating on the Internet. The number of new records added to the anti-virus database in the last year equals the total of all the records added over the last 10 years, he states.

This trend shows no sign of changing, he adds, with the number of detected programs growing by two-and-a-half times in the last year. Kaspersky expects the number of malicious programs to be three to four times greater than in 2007.

Melamed says these global trends are mirrored in SA, as the nature of cyber-crime makes it a borderless crime. South Africans are subject to the same crimes faced by Londoners and New Yorkers, he notes.

Crimes such as identity theft and the theft of passwords are as prevalent in SA as they are anywhere else in the world, says Melamed. Denial of service attacks launched anywhere in the world hit SA at the same time as any other country, he adds.

Melamed says South Africans have been victims of 419 scams as well as spyware and other forms of malicious code. "Stealing passwords with access to Internet banking has taken place at South African Internet caf'es as well as through the use of botnets, malicious code installed on computers used to harvest user IDs and passwords."

Melamed states the best defence against cyber-crime is to implement approved policies and standards. Keeping systems patched against known vulnerabilities seems such an obvious action, yet audit after audit has shown that this is just not happening, he concludes.

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