Data, the most prized possession for cyber criminals

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Perpetrators of cyber crime are becoming more sophisticated in their efforts to steal data. This is the main motivation behind organized, premeditated attacks on global networks claims Christo van Staden, a director at Carrick Holdings, a local provider of IT system security, solutions and services.

Van Staden points to the advent of online interactive facilities, such as social networks, and the increase in access to virtual communities, as influential factors impacting the IT security market.

"Yes, the Internet is bringing people closer together than ever before. At the same time, though, the resource remains a huge opportunity for criminals,' says Van Staden.

"The online environment has progressed and developed from the days of mainly chat rooms and MMS facilities. Now consumers have direct and free access to digital communities where they can personalize websites, upload information and generate traffic. On the one hand this is positive because it encourages interaction, is not bound by limitations and is a strong example of how technology can enable and empower people,' says Van Staden.

"On the other hand, one needs to be careful. Personal information is very valuable and it is best to know precisely what information is being posted, when and where, and who exactly has access to this material. In an age of information, threatened by phishing, social engineering, espionage and cyber terrorism, it is advisable to handle these online or virtual communities with care,' he continues.

Individuals and businesses alike must take cognizance of the increase in data theft and creation of malicious code says Van Staden.

"Attackers are now exploiting vulnerabilities in third-party applications. This is used as a base to launch other, often more sinister attacks,' he says. "We continue to educate the market on the rise of what is termed blended attacks, a consolidation of the "tools of the trade?, so to speak.'

According to Van Staden, there is a steady global trend among IT security technology vendors to work closely with security services providers to encourage a proactive approach to the protection of networks.

"Technology vendors are repositioning themselves in terms of strategy. There is an even greater need for awareness in the market and solutions that are being introduced now reflect the need to go beyond traditional or front line security measures. It is necessary to assist clients to pre-define and sustain a "state of good health?, in other words take on an offensive position rather than defensive position in the security strategy.'

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