Raising awareness of security threats is a critical issue, says Sophos

June 05, 2008 Sophos Press Release

National E-security Awareness Week

Sydney, 05 June 2008 - Sophos, a world leader in IT security, is supporting the Australian Government in National E-security Awareness Week. This initiative is to encourage businesses and home internet users to take greater precautions against emerging malicious computer threats.

Sophos has issued advice in conjunction with the launch of the event today. The week has been organized by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

During the week various information events and seminars will take place. The first event is a luncheon in Melbourne on the 6 June 2008 hosted by the City of Melbourne.

The web now holds an unprecedented number of threats, and Sophos discovers a new infected webpage every five seconds. This is an average of more than 15,000 each day, three times more than in 2007.

Our dependence on the web for purchasing goods and services and for gathering information is growing all the time. This makes the web an ideal hunting ground for cybercriminals to catch poorly protected users.

"With ever increasing internet usage and the rising prevalence of social interaction via sites such as Facebook and MySpace, computer users need to be aware more than ever of potential dangers," said Sophos's Rob Forsyth, managing director, Asia Pacific. Forsyth will be speaking at the National E-security Awareness Week event in Melbourne. "This is especially concerning because malware authors are now out there to make money, not just cause mischief."

Sophos's research into endpoint security shows that over half of computers are missing security patches; over a third have no firewall installed (or not enabled); and a fifth of computers have anti-virus protection that is either switched off or at least 2 days out of date.

"This is not the time for internet users to bury their heads in the sand and hope no one notices gaping security holes in their network," continued Forsyth. "Today, attacks are sophisticated, well funded and targeted. Small businesses and individuals are particularly vulnerable to cybercriminals if they don't know how best to protect their information while online.

"Putting in place an up-to-date security policy that proactively defends your web and email gateway - and protects all your endpoint computers and mobile devices - is vital. Equally important is educating users on appropriate and acceptable online behavior. These measures will deter malware perpetrators by making an organization an unattractive target," said Forsyth.

Technological advancements that help legitimate marketers and sales teams to focus their efforts on specific markets quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively, have also made life easier for hackers. Better technology has led to improved return on investment for both the good and the bad guys.

"It is very encouraging to see initiatives such as the National E-security Awareness Week which help in promoting awareness of online threats and the steps internet users can take to protect themselves and their businesses," said Forsyth. "It is through programs like this that heightened user awareness may be achieved, and with this awareness, end users are far less likely to fall victim to online attacks, either through carelessness, or out-of-date virus protection".

National E-Security Awareness Week runs from 6th - 13th June.