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Q&A: Race against advancing threats

Zafar Anjum | Aug. 30, 2013
‘Zero day attacks’ and other advanced threats are changing the cyber security landscape in Asia and beyond, says Anshuman Singh, Group Product Manager, Barracuda Networks.

Data theft is also rife in the region. Hackers are interested in the data that you hold. Customers' credit card numbers, their social security numbers and other parts of personally identifiable information (PII) is of interest as these pieces of information can be sold in the cyber black market.

Which companies are most likely to be the target of cyber attacks?

Generally, you will find that hackers are most interested in compromising companies such as financial institutions, online retailers, news sites and research institutes. The data that these companies store are intrinsically valuable and can easily be sold. However, SMEs are also likely to be targeted as well, as they tend to have lower levels of security in place and after these companies are infiltrated, they are used as legitimate client networks from where attacks on larger, more secure networks can be launched.

To be entirely honest, a company is at risk of being hacked so long as it has a web presence. Take Eu Yan Sang for example, a company that sells traditional Chinese medicine was hacked and had its web page defaced due to an Indonesian hacktivist taking offence to Indonesia being blamed for the recent haze in Singapore. While no confidential information was stolen, this attack almost certainly would have had a negative effect on the brand's image.

In view of the increased waves of state-sponsored attacks as well as hacktivism, should security vendors work with government agencies to tackle local and global attackers? Are they the new arms dealers?

It has been claimed that warfare can now take place in a fifth theatre - online. Originally it was just land, air, sea and space. More governments are recognising the need to keep their confidential data secure. Especially, when that data relates to national security.

The Internet is a great enabler and governments are enabling more services for their citizens on using the internet. So, just disconnecting from the Internet is not a viable option. What is required is to build networks and systems that are secure.

Security product companies, like Barracuda Networks, help build secure "facilities" online. And it is important for security vendors to work with not just governments, but other security vendors and the myriad of businesses that operate in the online space.

One of the main reasons why the hackers are winning is that those who are defending the online realm are not sharing new attack vectors that they come across for fear of bad publicity. If we do not know what is coming, it is going to be hard to stop it. Hackers on the other hand are always collaborating and sharing.


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