McAfee CEO: More security action needed if NBN is built

CEO says Australian partners don’t need to prepare for company changes post-Intel

McAfee’s global CEO, Dave DeWalt, has warned of a huge rise in the amount of malware being spread across the Internet as a greater variety of devices get online and called on greater cooperation to combat the problem.

DeWalt was in Sydney for McAfee Focus 2010 and a media roundtable. He told journalists the sharp rise in devices connectable to the Internet including, phones, cars and ATMs, had contributed to a spike in malware.

“The amount of malware we continue to see is astounding,” he said. “In the last less than 24 months we’ve done more blocks against these problems than the past 20 years combined.

“You’re just seeing this continued vector of growth in terms of the bad things that are happening with more devices and more threats. Clearly the access [of the NBN] is a challenge for everybody and cooperation of vendors, public/private partnerships are critical here.

“We need to work together with Government to solve these challenges particularly with crime and some of the terrorism activities we’ve seen.”

DeWalt also assured Australian partners there were no plans to change the company’s operations, systems or methods of doing business despite its being taken over by chipset maker, Intel.

“Can I guarantee it [won’t change]? Maybe not. But certainly the intent is to operate it as a wholly-owned subsidiary that’s independently operated and the brand will be there,” he said. “Yes, it will stay structurally the same way.”

McAfee Worldwide technology officer, George Kurtz, was keen to note the risk of increased access was a side note compared to the bigger priority of more inter-governmental cooperation.

“When we have connectivity you certainly have opportunities for the bad guys and the more people that are online, well it’s just a mathematical game of who they might be able to compromise,” he said. “But if we could eliminate the motivation behind this then I think we’d have a much greater probability of dealing with the exponential increase in malware.

“The problem with most Governments is that they’re slow and bureaucratic and have a hard time keeping pace with the rate of change in technology.”

While Kurtz was critical of US officials, he praised Singapore’s Government as being ahead of the curve and said Australia was “pretty progressive” when in came to tech use and security.