Australians need to improve their online security, says Sophos

October 24, 2006 Sophos Press Release

Sophos, a world leader in IT security and control, has warned that business and home internet users in Australia must take greater precautions to guard against continuously emerging malicious computer threats.

In September 2006, security experts at Sophos identified 4,080 new threats, compared with just 1,998 in the previous month, bringing the total number of malware protected against to 190,745. This significant rise in threats comes in spite of a reduction in the volume of malware being distributed via infected emails, now just one in 300. This clearly indicates that cybercriminals are moving away from mass-emailed attacks in favour of more subtle and menacing attacks, such as phishing campaigns and spyware, targeted at small groups of computer users.

Sophos has issued its warning in conjunction with the announcement of National E-Security Awareness Week, which commences today and has been organised by the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA).

Sophos, in association with DCITA and several of its reseller partners, is hosting a series of free briefings for small and medium business owners and IT administrators in Darwin, Melbourne, Cairns and Adelaide, in support of the new initiative. The aim of the briefings is to help raise awareness of the online security issues and offer advice that all Australian internet users can use to combat cyber criminals.

Sophos has also today announced its support of the new "GetNetSafe" scheme, launched by the Internet Industry Association (IIA). The "GetNetSafe" scheme is one of the IIA's key security initiatives for 2006 and combines education and technology assistance to help internet users better understand and combat spam, viruses and spyware.

The main focus of the "GetNetSafe" campaign is to drive internet users to its new website http://www.secureyourcomputer.info which provides trial downloads of specialised security software from vendors, including Sophos, with the aim of increasing protection among Australia's internet community.

"Small businesses are especially good targets for cybercriminals because they are often unaware of how best to protect their information while online," said Sean Richmond, Senior Technology Consultant, for Sophos Australia and New Zealand.

A recent Sophos poll of small businesses found that many failed to adequately protect themselves from security threats, largely due to a lack of understanding of online threats. Many also failed to implement updates to their anti-virus systems in a timely manner, leaving them vulnerable to attacks.

"The focus of computer threats has changed considerably over the last 12 months to become highly targeted at small groups of internet users", Richmond said. "Cybercriminals are using spyware programs, Trojan horses and phishing campaigns to acquire corporate and personal information in the hope of stealing significant amounts of money from their victims."

"It is very encouraging to see initiatives such as the National E-Security Awareness Week and the 'GetNetSafe' campaign, which should help in promoting awareness of online threats and the steps internet users can take to protect themselves and their businesses."

Sophos's security briefings will be held in the following locations during National E-Security Awareness Week:

23 October - Sophos and Evolve IT seminar - 12:00pm
The Element Bar Bistro, 103D/604 Swanston St, Carlton, Melbourne

24 October - Sophos and Brilliant Technologies breakfast seminar - 8:30am
The Shangri-La Hotel, Piperpoint Rd, Cairns

26 October - Sophos and Tripos breakfast seminar - 8:30am
Hilton Adelaide, 233 Victoria Square,Adelaide

26 October - Sophos and Editure breakfast seminar - 8:30am
Crowne Plaza, 32 Mitchell St, Darwin

For more information, or to attend the above seminars please contact crystal.hammond@sophos.com.au