Some things never change: Part two

If you haven’t been hiding in a cave this month or guilty watching Celebrity Big Brother – testament to the saying “it ain’t over till it’s over” – you’ll have been hooked by two major stories that have emerged – one is Wikipedia’s one-day blanket blockade of its English-based content and the other is the somewhat dramatic shutdown of Megaupload.com.

Although we plan on discussing both of these respective stories in upcoming blogs, it is worth mentioning them within the context of this blog. The outcome of the Stop Online Piracy Act and the case against Megaupload.com will have an impact on our industry, with particular regards to how professionals in our industry operate online as well as how fraudsters are able to navigate the world wide web. Some things will never change, that much is true, but if the parameters in which they exist transform, well, the arena no longer is the same.

This could be a theme this year – taking the old and making it new. Ash Patel, Stonesoft’s country manager for the UK and Ireland, figures that hackers will be entering a more sophisticated age in the way they go about their criminal business. It’s not a different way of operating per se, just a more developed way of carrying out operations. The sentiment is shared by Graeme Batsman, director of Data Defender, who believes this increased refinement of methodology will lead to greater problems.
“At present we are at stage two and three,” he said.

“[Stage one is the] intent to infect computers and wreak havoc. [Stage two is for] monetary aim – cyber gangs are based in various countries and some even take credit cards to ‘remove’ viruses or give you ‘protection’.”
Stage three, he added, is state-sponsored cyber attacks, which target both state and defence contractors. What is most worrying is the scale of such attacks – prolific like a dazzling in-season footballer at the prime of his career.

While we’re used to this in our business, the workload is set to become a lot harder, creativity is going to be pushed to the limit and our capacity to react to situations in a cool and efficient manner will be more important than ever. In short, we’re going to have to maintain the quality of our work and step it up a gear.

Which is why, according to Stonesoft and Amichai Shulmanm, chief technology officer and co-founder of Imperva, 2012 will be a year where there will be more policing of online activity than ever before. The message to criminals is “we know you’re out there, so hear us loud and clear – we will find you and punish you accordingly”.

It’s a move in the right direction, recognising that as we move to a world that is deeply embedded in a digital landscape, crimes committed within this virtual environment should be one) monitored and regulated to a degree similar to that of the real world and two) those found guilty of crimes within this interface should be punished as they would outside of it.

As we said above, although some things will never change, the world in which cyber criminals and security professionals exist, keeps on evolving. If we accept that, we’ll be alright.

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