Worldwide spread of viruses boosts e-security

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E-security rose to the top of the business agenda last year because of cybercrime that shut down popular websites and spread viruses worldwide. And there are plenty reasons to beware.

Morbid surfers who thought they were downloading a pirate copy of the execution of Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh were tricked into installing a computer virus.

Grisly hoax
Within hours of the death of McVeigh by lethal injection, files pretending to be video clips of the execution at the Indiana prison were circulating in chat rooms. But the promised pirated footage was a hoax. The surfers had been duped into running a virus, a variant of an old Trojan called SubSeven, which affects only machines running Microsoft Windows.

There was no indication that the signal had been intercepted and descrambled, but the incident shows how virus creators are changing tactics. Many hackers use already damaged machines to launch their pernicious attacks, making it almost impossible to track them down.

Good housekeeping
Significantly, those who had kept their anti-virus software up to date were immune.

And the e-business community is even more vulnerable than the home user. Until recently, organizations have been over-confident of their ability to deal with threats posed by breaches in security, but this is changing rapidly.

Europe comes into line
Europe is now seen as the second-most important security market in the world. “The hype around e-security issues is abating in Europe, but the real work of becoming truly secure still lies ahead for most organizations, creating an incredible demand for security services,” said Sandra Baccari Edler, senior research analyst with IDC.

“The market for security services in Europe is still highly fragmented and continues to evolve. Many new providers of security services have emerged in the past year, and existing players have repositioned themselves with the goal of capitalizing on the high demand for these hot services,” added Edler.

Spend, spend, spend
Spending on security services in Western Europe is estimated to reach roughly $2.1 billion in 2001 and grow to $4 billion in 2004. Antivirus software products enjoy an extraordinarily high penetration in European businesses – around 46% have already adopted security technology. Encryption and intrusion detection solutions will be widely used within the next three years.

Several key trends will shape the market in the coming years. One of the most important trends we’re seeing in the European security services market is the surge in managed security services, according to Edler.

“Small and medium-size businesses are struggling to secure themselves without in-house security experts. Now providers of security services are offering managed security services that provide 24x7 monitoring. By paying a monthly fee for these services, SMBs can enjoy round-the-clock security coverage that was previously out of their reach.”

Human weakness
The writers of malicious programs are changing their tactics, preying on human weaknesses – viruses claiming to show revealing images of famous women have been the downfall of many.

Avarice or a soft heart?
More time is wasted de-bunking hoaxes than handling real virus incidents. Interspersed with the junk mail and spam in your e-mail are messages on how to make money, how to help children in trouble, and other appealling items, to encourage you to send the message on to everyone you know. Most of these are hoaxes, and even if they don’t infect your system, they waste time – and are costly to remove from systems that succumb.

Naive users with good intentions unwittingly cause immense problems. Sending an unconfirmed warning to everyone you know – asking that they also send it to everyone they know – adds to mailbox overload at work.

Warning
Warnings from incident response teams and antivirus vendors have valid return addresses. You can also get the warnings from the horse’s mouth – the web pages of the organizations that put them out – to ensure that your information is accurate.

The European Security Services Market: A Primer offers a market segmentation and analysis of 12 players, along with a breakdown of the primary security services each offers. It also examines trends and the challenges and opportunities face by providers. It also gives a breakdown of the forecast spending on security in Western Europe this year.

IDC
IDC is a market intelligence and advisory firm helping clients gain insight into technology and ebusiness trends to develop business strategies.

IDC

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