Computer Crime Research Center


Cybercrime hits harder than physical crimes, Australia

Date: March 14, 2006
By: Stan Beer

Australian CIOs believe more strongly than their global peers that employees now pose a threat to corporate security, according to a new IBM research report. Seventy five percent of local CIOs who spoke to IBM perceive that threats originate internally compared to a global benchmark, based on a total of 17 countries, of 66%.

The study, conducted among over 3,000 CIOs in January this year includes 150 respondents from Australian companies. Most were drawn from the retail, financial services and manufacturing sectors.

According to the IT executives surveyed, 49% of local businesses now perceive cybercrime to be a greater threat than physical crime to their business. At the same time, the perception is that perpetrators of cybercrime are becoming increasingly sophisticated; 80% of Australian CIOs (84% globally) believe that lone hackers are increasingly being replaced by organised and technically proficient criminal groups.

"The rapidly changing nature of cybercrime means that we advise companies to be prepared to combat a whole new generation of security threats that extend well beyond computer networks," said Claudia Warwar, managing consultant, IBM BCS Security and Privacy Practice. "When we talk about security today, it means considering an entire organisation and much of its ecosystem of partnerships and relationships - from the network to the workforce, and from the workplace to the supply chain. Meeting this challenge requires an industry-wide approach - no one company can do it alone."

Despite highlighting the potential threat from employees, Australian CIOs seem to be concentrating on protecting their organisation from external threats. While 32% of respondents are intent on upgrading firewalls, for example, only 15% plan to invest in awareness and education training for employees. Another 10% will restrict the use of mobile devices such as wireless handheld computers not specifically sanctioned by the IT staff.

"We strongly endorse educating employees who are in the first line of defence to be cybercrime aware. As software becomes more secure, computer users will continue to be the weak link for an organisation. Criminals will focus more efforts on convincing end users to execute the attack instead of wasting time in lengthy software vulnerability discovery," said Ms Warwar.
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