Cyber war heightens focus on stealing business data, report finds

A report written by Websense has found that there are an increasing number of cyber attacks being targeted at businesses, resulting in more frequent data theft and loss.

Over the past 12 months it was found that 52 per cent of breaches in which data was stolen occurred via the internet, with nine per cent harnessing email as an alternative route into business systems.

The total number of spam mails with malicious links rose to 90 per cent when looking at the unsolicited mail statistics, which is an increase of four per cent compared to last year.

Experts now believe that cybercriminals are more able than ever before to attack and breach businesses to steal data, thanks to a host of exploitable weaknesses in current security systems.

It is said that firewalls and other common forms of protection which have been in place for years are simply not up to the task of dealing with the sophisticated nature of current attacks. By hiding malicious code in multimedia web-based content like Flash, or by harnessing social media tools and hijacking big-name brands, it is now much more difficult to detect and deflect attacks.

Analysts identify that most successful attacks are able to break through security checks because they are new variants on established malicious code, or entirely unseen entities. This leaves antivirus and firewall providers playing catch-up, as they have to patch flaws as they are discovered by the criminals.

Websense’s Dan Hubbard said that the upwards trend for malware attacks and the growing complexity which they exhibit, should be serious cause for concern among the business and data security communities.

Mr Hubbard believes that there is a simple solution to this type of attack using contextual analysis of threats, which can, in turn, make classifying and deflecting malware much easier.

By blending attacks into innocuous content on social networking sites, organised cybercriminal groups were able to make headway in 2010, according to the report.

Data theft was top of the criminal agenda this year, with an 111 per cent increase in the number of websites designed and sustained to perpetuate the spread of viruses.

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