8th July  2010

The majority of attacks on computer systems around the world today are motivated by financial gain – with up to 90% being orchestrated by organised criminals, according to a report from security vendor Symantec. This statistic and others were this week revealed as Irish IT security specialists Threatscape announced a new partnership with Symantec at a customer briefing in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Wednesday.

  Lorcan Kavanagh, Symantec’s country sales manager for Ireland, and Dermot Williams, MD, Threatscape

Lorcan Kavanagh, Symantec’s country sales manager for Ireland, and Dermot Williams, MD, Threatscape

The results come as no surprise to Threatscape Managing Director Dermot Williams who predicted a rise in these kind of breaches almost five years ago.

Speaking of the trends unveiled by the most recent Symantec Intelligence quarterly Williams said: “Notoriety and bragging rights used to be behind the majority of activity. Now it’s cold hard cash – pure and simple.”

Williams was speaking to an audience of IT professionals responsible for the information security of many of Ireland’s largest commercial and public sector organisations. Threatscape assists clients in overseeing the security of hundreds of thousands of computer systems around Ireland. A global insight into developing threats is now available to them through the Global Intelligence Network operated by their new partner, Symantec.

“Analysing over 8 billion emails a day and monitoring activity at 240,000 different points and over 200 countries across the internet, Symantec have an unrivalled and real-time insight into developing IT security threats,” continued Williams. “This is why we have chosen to partner with them to help Irish organisations secure their business critical IT systems.”

Under the new partnership, Threatscape will be a strategic Symantec partner in Ireland for corporate IT security. Threatscape IT security consultants will deploy and support Symantec technology and solutions to provide enterprise-scale clients with a unique and compelling level of protection against digital threats.

Lorcan Kavanagh, Symantec’s Country Sales Manager for Ireland, commented: “The growth in well organised and targeted computer attacks for financial reward is a phenomenon that can affect companies regardless of size, or of location. The very nature of how individuals and organisations make use of IT continues to evolve and it is important that they continually assess their systems to make sure they are well secured.”

Other statistics revealed by from the Symantec Intelligence Quarterly:

- 80% of security breaches are targeted at stealing confidential data

- Credit Card details are the most commonly advertised item on black market forums

- Attack toolkits and Bank Accounts follow these as the most popular black market items for sale. “Attack toolkits” debut at number 2 and allow novice attackers to launch sophisticated attacks.

- Prices for credit card information ranged from $0.33 to $100

- The number 1 vector by which criminals and malware gets into a company continues to be email.

- 90% of the world’s email traffic is spam

- Spam increased by 192% from 2007 to 2008.

- 285 million records were stolen in 2008, compared to 230 million between 2004 and 2007

- The United States was responsible for 30 percent of malicious activity; China ranked second globally with 6 percent of the total

- Top Web based attack IE and PDF readers

Williams added: “The ingenuity and deviousness of these guys can be astonishing – ranging from the myriad of bogus ‘donation websites’ that cropped up within hours of the Haitian earthquake to the way gangs trade details of new ways to compromise computer systems almost as a form of currency in the cyber underworld. Then there’s the recent grown in fake antivirus programs and even unsolicited phone calls from phony IT support lines offering to fix problems remotely – for a fee.”

One of the fastest growing areas of information security is DLP or ‘Data Loss Prevention’ – providing technologies that prevent valuable and confidential corporate data falling into the wrong hands, whether it is through the activities of malicious insiders or by accidental but potentially catastrophic incidents such as lost laptops or emails sent with unintended attachments – or to incorrect recipients. Understanding where confidential data is located, how it is being used, and what steps must be taken to prevent its potential loss is vital.

Kavanagh also added: “Symantec has a range of solutions second to none when it comes to helping organisations secure and manage their information-driven world. We are delighted to have a partner of the calibre of Threatscape to bring these solutions to the Irish market with us.”