A new survey has found that businesses and individuals in Wales are being targeted by more than twice the number of cyber attacks than in previous years.
Incidences of hacking, data loss or theft and malware infections have increased by over two thirds, according to e-Crime Wales.
Welsh businesses are believed to have been hit with a bill for about £373 million in total as a result of the increase, which will see the figures for 2010 reaching new heights.
A disgruntled ex-employee was the cause of a particularly high profile case in which his former manager was the subject of a cyber attack whilst out of the country. The employee managed to break into a company email account and then download private industry records detailing information collected over a decade and a half.
In this case the man responsible was apprehended and faced a prison sentence as a result of his actions, but many more cases go unpunished.
The boom in cyber crime in Wales since 2008 has resulted in regional police forces creating multiple divisions tasked with tackling data loss, theft and other cyber criminal activities. This is currently a unique approach that no other area in Europe has yet to emulate.
E-Crime Wales has found that Welsh businesses are particularly sensitive to the threat of cyber crime, with over 50 per cent of firms raising the amount they invest in data loss prevention this year.
Experts believe that Welsh businesses will be adapting their current policies and security measures as many more adopt cloud computing solutions, seeing them as a convenient alternative to in-house storage and protection.
E-Crime Wales’ Andrea Barnard said that the cyber criminals were always one step ahead because regulations and policies could stifle vendors and law enforcement agencies when it comes to protecting business data.
Protecting trade secrets and intellectual property that are pertinent to the running of a business and potentially valuable to rival organisations is a growing concern throughout the UK and the pressure on organisations to do so seems set to continue to rise.
A new study has shown that in Europe around 28 per cent of businesses have experienced attacks against the integrity of their data. A total of 420 firms were questioned as part of the study carried out by InfoSecurity, highlighting the persistent threat posed to inadequately protected data.
Although the frequency of the attacks is high, only six per cent of the affected firms said that they had been seriously affected by the assaults and as a result had strengthened their data protection systems.
Any attack on the integrity of an organisation’s data that succeeds could have a negative effect on the firm involved. Everything from credit ratings to public perception can be damaged and thus the financial burden can be felt long after the event has been detected and new measures have been put in place.
The study also found that 14 per cent of firms cannot actually identify an attack and 50 per cent say that although they have yet to detect any direct attack, if such an event were to occur, it could prove to be serious.
Of the hundreds of organisations questioned, only three per cent said that they were confident that attacks against the integrity of their data would never be a significant issue.
Data protection expert Bob Tarzey said that growing data volumes within businesses would only heighten the problem of integrity attacks and the nervousness of businesses in relation to this matter was understandable.
Mr Tarzey said that he was surprised by the number of respondents who said that their businesses had been hit by attacks in the recent past. He believes that the inability of businesses to detect these attacks could lead to a mounting issue surrounding data integrity in the future.
InfoSecurity’s Claire Sellick added that the confidentiality and availability of data within businesses needs to be addressed in the same way in which the integrity of that data is handled. Many experts are calling for businesses to disclose information about the incidents that they do manage to detect, rather than withholding it for fear of the ramifications.
A new study has found that European businesses are lagging behind their US counterparts when it comes to adopting cloud computing to replace older IT systems.
Analyst firm 451 Group has released a report outlining the global progression of cloud computing and the US is undoubtedly in the lead in terms of investment in and uptake of cloud-based IT solutions.
451 Group’s William Fellows said that the global cloud market was primarily supported by US business, with 57 per cent of investment coming from America. Europe accounted for around 31 per cent of the market last year, whilst Asia was in third place with 12 per cent of the total spend.
The use of cloud computing as a service is even more prevalent in the US and 451 Group estimates that about 93 per cent of spending in this context is accounted for by US businesses.
Mr Fellows said that although European businesses seemed to be slower to sign up to cloud solutions than their US contemporaries, it is a general lack of data centres and available resources that is causing the discrepancy, rather than the willingness to support the technology and services.
There are fears that the development of cloud computing could be hampered by government initiatives which relate to data sharing and privacy. The US Patriot Act has come under criticism from certain cloud supporters who fear that it could damage relations between Europe and America, whilst its implications could lead to a vaguely defined cloud system with no clear boundaries, creating a regulatory nightmare.
Contradictory international laws which govern data stored in specific geographies are proving to be a roadblock for the development of the cloud in certain areas. The protection of private data is being seen by some as of paramount importance, whilst others feel that data protection needs to be considered in parallel with development of cloud-based solutions.
Google’s recent conflict with Chinese authorities is seen as a perfect example as to how vague borders and unclear legislation can lead to problematic data-related incidents. Spending on cloud computing is predicted to soar regardless, with over £8.5 billion expected to be invested in 2013.
A new report has found that businesses in the EU are failing to properly safeguard customer information due to a lack of cohesion in the implementation of security procedures relating to printing.
Printer firm Ricoh commissioned the investigation into common practices within businesses across the continent and found that less than half of all financial organisations have any kind of policy designed to restrict the transference of private information from a database to paper.
In the professional services sector the state of security is even worse, with just 43 per cent of organisations instigating proper preventative measures. The biggest potential for disaster exists in public sector organisations, of which only a third were found to have any kind of system for preventing sensitive data from leaking out in printed form.
Despite the somewhat bleak picture that the survey statistics present, 49 per cent of the businesspeople questioned recognised that data security did not just stop with electronic storage and portable device encryption.
Ricoh said that a lack of accountability was causing the majority of the issues in this area, with delegation and shared responsibility leading to a culture of negligence. The decentralisation has also meant that data is being used less efficiently and businesses are being hindered by having their productivity reduced.
Ricoh’s UK representative David Mills said that data management planning within businesses had to integrate physical as well as virtual documents. Mr Mills recommends that a unified approach is necessary to ensure that common data security issues do not have an impact on the wider operation of the business.
Mr Mills emphasised the importance of placing responsibility for the safety of customer data across multiple platforms and mediums with a single department or person. Highly sensitive data that slips into the wrong hands can be embarrassing for everyone involved, but if the incentive for proper security rests in the hands of a small group, this will be far less likely to occur.
Data security continues to touch an international nerve across public and private sector organisations and businesses looking to move forward are being urged to work towards internal and external unity.