Computer crime on the rise, survey says

Computer crime on the rise, survey says

Network specialist Russ Schadd wakes up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night worrying about how to protect his $US1.5 billion printing company's proprietary information.

And well he should.

According to results of the sixth annual Computer Crime and Security Survey, released recently, intellectual property theft and security breaches are on the rise while the costs of those intrusions are skyrocketing.

Conducted by the Computer Security Institute of San Francisco and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, the survey of 538 security administrators from industry, government and academia shows that 85 per cent of respondents reported security breaches in this year's survey, and 26 per cent reported intellectual property theft, up from 20 per cent in 2000.

But the survey also shows that the cost of that theft is exploding. While only 34 respondents could quantify the financial losses associated with intellectual property theft, that number added up to more than $151 million. The amount is up from almost $67 million in 2000 and $20 million in 1997. In total, 186 respondents said losses from all types of security breaches cost more than $377 million. That means theft of intellectual property accounts for 40 per cent of all losses tabulated in the survey, despite the fact that such a small number of companies could quantify it.

"I'm not worried about someone [hacking] in and destroying data because we have backups," says Schadd, a network specialist for channel company Wallace Computer Services. It would be difficult to calculate how badly the company would be hurt if somebody stole that information. "It would be devastating if that information was given to a competitor," he says.

On the rise

The survey also points to several other aspects of computer security that are on the rise:

Forty per cent of respondents reported outside system penetration, up from 20 per cent in 1997.

Thirty-eight per cent detected denial-of-service attacks, up from 24 per cent in 1998 and 27 per cent in 2000.

In last year's survey, 249 people were able (and willing) to quantify financial losses. That number totalled $265 million.

Thirty-six per cent of respondents reported security breaches to law enforcement agencies, up from 17 per cent in 1997 and 25 per cent in 2000.

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