Cyber-crime takes off

Johannesburg, 17 Apr 2009

Cyber-crime is growing, criminals are getting smarter and anybody can become a cyber-criminal, according to Greg Day, McAfee principal security analyst for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.

“There are a number of key reasons why cyber-crime is growing. We are seeing more advanced technology. In the past, we were used to having a few smart people writing very smart malware. These days anybody can create their own malware.

“We've moved into a world where virtually your granny can become a cyber-criminal. There are tools available for purchase in the underground cyber-crime Web sites that allow users to create their own malicious code.”

Day will speak at the upcoming ITWeb Security Summit 2009, to be held from 26 to 28 May at VodaWorld, in Midrand. Day has worked in the threat and malicious code industry since 1991, initially with Dr Solomon's, which today trades as McAfee. Day helped found the Best Practices team at McAfee, to drive awareness of threat issues as well as implement protection strategies based on McAfee security solutions.

Changing times

Traditionally, law enforcement organisations are used to dealing with localised crime, Day notes. However, cyber-crime has changed the rules of the game, operating in a complex environment where the entire world has become their target audience, with access to millions of computers across global boundaries. It's become more difficult to pinpoint these cyber-criminals, Day adds.

ITWeb Security Summit 2009

More information about the ITWeb Security Summit 2009, which takes place from 26 to 28 May at Vodaworld, is available online here.

“Information is a valuable commodity. We did research with companies and found that their number one concern is the loss of intellectual property and data. We are seeing a big trend in cyber-criminals taking advantage of the current economic climate. We are seeing all sorts of cyber-attacks coming through, looking to gain personal and financial information to benefit the cyber-criminal.”

It's important for businesses to protect their IT systems, because a security breach could have serious consequences, Day says. This includes allowing the criminal access to critical financial information. “Potentially, a successful cyber-attack against a major US bank could have more of an impact than 911 did.”

Steven Ambrose, World Wide Worx analyst, says cyber-crime has been over hyped: “Nine times out of 10 is hype and one out of 10 is reality. Crime tends to arise in periods of economic crisis. There's no question that more and more crime is becoming more technology-based. The same way the Internet has gotten global, cyber-crime has become global. As the world has become more hi-tech, organised crime has to keep up with that reality and is using technology for criminal purposes. However, from what we've seen, there is far less chance that your credit card will be misused online than by physically giving it to a waiter in a restaurant. Ninety-nine percent of the cyber-crime is due to people being careless, and users need to take the necessary precautions.”

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