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Symantec warns of cold war in the cyber world

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People use computers at an Internet cafe. Some hacker training operations openly recruit thousands of members online and provided them with cyberattack lessons and malicious software. File photo

People use computers at an Internet cafe. Some hacker training operations openly recruit thousands of members online and provided them with cyberattack lessons and malicious software.

Enrique Salem, President and Chief Executive Officer of California-based Symantec Corporation, warns against a cold war of an unusual kind.

In an interaction with The news media last week, Mr. Salem said cyber space was the battlefield for this war, and might prove a huge threat to virtually the whole world.

The spread of the Internet and the move towards virtualisation to reap operational efficiency has seen a rapid growth in cyber storage. From individuals to corporates and Governments – enterprises have increasingly begun storing their data in cyber space. However, data is far from safe here. According to Mr. Salem, there are definite signs that data on the cyber space was under attack from tech-savvy hackers. He asserted that cyber attacks have become increasingly frequent. “Indian companies also are attacked and targeted,’’ Mr. Salem pointed out.

The real challenge lay in finding out ways to protect the ‘crown jewel’. Considered a critical infrastructure data, the ‘crown jewel’ usually would constitute about 10-15 per cent of total data. Discussing a range of issues on the subject, Mr. Salem said cyber attacks came from within and without. With China and India registering robust GDP growth rates, they were vulnerable to data threats from external hackers, he said. To a question, he said there was greater awareness in India on the possibilities of increased attacks on cyber storage.

Driving innovation, putting in place reputation-based securities and moving towards next generation security technology were among the ways by which Symantec would strive to stay ahead of canny hackers and protect attacks on IP (intellectual property) and critical infrastructure data, he said.

In the short-run, the data protection initiatives would revolve around focussing on early warning and putting in place a remediation plan. Also, Symantec would focus on spreading education on best practices in this area, he said. In the medium term, he felt, there was need to design and structure new technologies that would have the ability to protect data and critical infrastructure from newer threats, he pointed out.

In this context, he underscored the need for a coordinated approach to tackle the `new cold war’ which could result in disproportionate damage to the world as a whole. Mr. Salem pointed out that Symantec had just signed a memorandum of understanding with the Co-operative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE), which was established in 2008 to beef up the cyber defence capability of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation). Under the MoU, Symantec had agreed to provide technology and manpower to research online threats.

“It is a research agreement,” he said. Essentially, Symantec would supply CCGCOE of NATO with technology to collect information about attacks. The CCDCOE, based in Tallinn, was established in 2008 following extensive, coordinated denial-of-service attacks against Estonian financial and Governmental organizations. It is an international effort sponsored by Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, Italy, the Slovak Republic and Spain. Symantec would use a system of remotely-deployable collector nodes to gather cyber-attack data from specific, targeted geographic areas. The collector nodes would make use of Symantec’s existing global intelligence network (GIN), which consists of 240,000 software sensors and its customers’ 120 million desktop, server and gateway antivirus installations. The GIN allows malicious software to be captured and transmitted back to Symantec security response centres for analysis. On the individual customer front, Symantec, he said, would strive to do its best to make the online back-up service cost-effective and full-proof.

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March 2, 2010 - Posted by | My Domain | , , , ,

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