Intellectual property put at risk of cybercrime as recession bites

News by Dan Raywood

The current global economic situation is putting vital information and intellectual property at risk.

The current global economic situation is putting vital information and intellectual property at risk.


According to the McAfee study ‘Unsecured Economies: Protecting Vital Information', security experts and senior IT decision makers have warned that the global recession is putting vital information at greater risk than ever before.


The research examined where vital information such as intellectual property originates, where it is stored globally and how it is transferred and lost. An estimated $4.6 billion worth of intellectual property was lost last year, with approximately $600 million spent repairing the damage from data breaches.


Key findings included the development of countries such as China and India, who spent more money on security than Germany, UK, US and Japan. Greg Day, EMEA security analyst at McAfee said: “26 per cent of businesses are looking to outsource services in the next year, that is 26 per cent looking for cost reductions by outsourcing.


“How much are countries investing in security?  The US and the UK already has it up to speed while developing countries are buying into it and getting ahead of the game. Emerging countries are looking to get from ground zero to be ahead of the game.”


Elsewhere, 39 per cent of respondents believed that vital information is more vulnerable in the current economic climate than before, as threats emerge from both internal and external sources.


Some experts claim that there has been an increase in the number of corporate data intrusions by organised cyber mafia gangs, while an increasing number of financially challenged employees are using their corporate data access to steal vital information.


Day said: “For most businesses who develop data, what they have created is unique to them, and what is valuable to them is far easier for a cybercriminal to steal than create.


“What is stolen and what is involved in dealing with the loss is often more expensive than creating it from scratch. For example, with the HMRC incident the cost of finding out what went wrong and how to repair it has been the largest expense. A data breach doesn't take into consideration the cost of securing systems to stop it happening again.”


Dave DeWalt, president and chief executive officer of McAfee, said: “This report is a wake-up call because the current economic crisis is poised to create a global meltdown in vital information.  Increased pressures on firms to reduce spending and cut staffing have led to more porous defences and increased opportunity for crime. Companies need to stop looking at security as a cost centre but as a business enabler.”


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