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Security ‘complacency’ knocked by terror attacks

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Last week's terrorist outrage had significantly changed the IT security landscape - firms need to take account of the possibility of catastrophic attacks, as well as the more limited hacker assaults we've all grown used to.

That's the feeling we got from the representatives of financial institutions and government organisations attending Secure Computing's eSecurity Conference in London yesterday.

Questions from the floor of the conference indicating any "complacency" about security had been knocked sideways by last week's events. But although there was a measured desire to revisit disaster recovery plans and put up tougher defences against the growing army of Internet hackers there was no sense of panic, only a sense of practical resolve to address security issues.

Simon Moores, chairman of The Research Group, said that one of the lessons to be drawn from the clean up after last week tragedy in that email has become critical for large business, and has to be given priority in disaster recovery plans. He suggested utilities are more vulnerable to electronic attack than banks, highlighting general concerns about the robustness of national infrastructure protection plans.

Niall Moynihan, northern European technical director at Check Point Software, said firms should look at redefining their security policies in light of last week's attacks.

Although there was a heightened sense of alertness about security there wasn't a feeling that the types of threat (viruses, denial of service, hacking for financial gain and defacements) had changed much.

DK Matai, chairman and chief executive of security firm mi2g, who gave a lengthy presentation on various high profile hacks over the last two years, told us the biggest risk (particularly at a time of widespread layoffs) came from disgruntled former employees.

Political hacks are still rare and we're not convinced that electronic attacks will become an adjunct of terrorist activities any time soon. That said it all too clear that the Internet is becoming less and not more secure.

Matai said the state of security on the Internet was about the same as on the roads of Elizabethan England with piracy and highway robbery endemic. We need to build castles of security along trade routes that feature security technology equivalent to the moats, drawbridges and watch towers of that period, he said.

[Verrily we're patenting Ye Register security chastity belts, iron maidens, and ducking stools. And no one will expect the Spanish Internet Inquisition - Ed.] ®

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