Companies can now turn to the services arm of Big Blue for all their hacking needs as IBM Global Services ramps up its ethical hacking division in Australia.
Headed up in the Asia-Pacific region by Peter Watson, IBM GS national practice leader of security and privacy services, the outsourcing and services company has grown to a team of 15 ethical hackers which provide an audit-style report of a company's security policies and network defences.
IBM GS' team attempts to break into a company's network through the Internet in order to identify the security flaws open to less scrupulous hackers. However, the level of penetration of the hacks conducted by IBM are governed by prior agreements which can restrict IBM GS to simply test possible entry points, right through to the capture of sensitive data.
"Just because a company has a firewall, or intrusion detection software, it doesn't mean they're not susceptible to being breached," says Watson.
The services company then offers policy guidelines and upgrades in order to shore up the clients' network security, as well as the option to monitor and manage the customer's security needs.
IBM GS has 80 full-time hackers around the world and Watson claims 60 per cent of the company's customers are repeat business, with customers extending existing outsourcing and managed services to include security.
While IBM GS acknowledges around 80 per cent of registered security breaches are from staff within the company, Watson acknowledges external hacks are what drums up the hype surrounding security.
"External hacking has more impact on shareholder value," says Watson. "It is [also] a lot harder to manage the response to external hacks."
IBM GS' security guru of principal global security and privacy services, Guy Denton, asserts the company does not use "reformed" hackers. Instead it trains network management and security specialists in the art of hacking.