Knocking off the nasties

Knocking off the nasties

With investment in security always a good wager, the Reef Hotel Casino in North Queensland hedged its bets on a new software suite to guard against viruses, spyware, spam and email policy abuse. The casino, which features a five-star hotel and employs 500 staff, adopted Sophos' antivirus tools to protect its 120 workstations and 10 Windows servers, as well as PureMessage to secure its email gateway. In addition to ensuring corporate compliance, the technology will protect the casino's sensitive data including guest information and credit card details, as well as employee and shareholder records.

Brisbane-based service provider, Newbase, implemented the software. Its marketing business development manager, Neil Cartwright, said the casino needed a low maintenance and centrally managed security system that could operate across its infrastructure.

"They needed a security boost to protect systems from the nasties getting in, and to protect their data," he said.

With the ever-changing security threat landscape, and new nasties propagating faster than rabbits, companies are increasingly seeing the need to pump up security and better protect the fort.

And there's no shortage of opportunities for resellers servicing the security market. IDC predicts the Australian security market will experience double-digit growth to reach over $1.3 billion by 2010. This will be driven by the need to secure new and emerging business enabling technologies and the increasing pressure from government and industry regulations, senior security analyst, Patrik Bihammar, said.

MONEY TALKS Today's security landscape shows widespread virus outbreaks are being replaced by higher frequency, low-visibility attacks aimed at financial gain rather than notoriety, Symantec Asia-Pacific and Japan channels vice-president, John Donovan, said. Phishing attacks, Web browser exploits, spam-related attacks (traditional along with the emerging image spam threat) and botnet attacks all increased this year.

The term botnets generally refers to a group of compromised machines running programs, such as worms, Trojan horses or backdoors, under a command and control infrastructure. The botnet's originator, known as the bot herder, is used to control the group remotely and often for malicious reasons. "A notable shift this year was the attack style," Donovan said. "We're finding attackers tend to exploit vulnerabilities in desktop applications more often than network infrastructure."

He put this down to companies increasing security spending and adopting a better approach to patching and protecting the network.

"Hackers are going after the weaker links which are the end-users and applications," he said. Avalanche Technology Group global security strategist, Larry Bridwell, said malware was increasingly being written for profit by criminal elements. It was used to perpetrate data theft, bank fraud, identity theft, phishing, malicious websites, and pump and dump schemes.

"This is now big business crime, not the realm of schoolboy hackers," he said. "We will continue to see this grow."

As well as the changing face of malware, SurfControl's technical strategy council chairman, Richard Cullen, said the threat development cycle was moving much faster than it was even 12 months ago.

"For vendors, this means the ability to move quickly can make or break you," he said. "For resellers, it means continual education is required in order to understand the threats and challenges facing their customers."

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