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Internal security breaches at the world's banks are growing faster than external attacks, as institutions invest in technology, instead of employee training.

According to the 2005 Global Security Survey, published by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, 35 per cent of respondents said that they had encountered attacks from inside their organisation within the last 12 months, up from 14 per cent in 2004. In contrast, only 26 per cent confirmed external attacks, compared to 23 per cent in 2004.

The report, which surveyed senior security officers from the world's top 100 financial institutions, found that incidences of phishing and pharming, two online scams which exploit human behaviour, are growing rapidly. These scams use bogus e-mails and websites to persuade people to reveal confidential information to hackers and fraudsters. "Completely malicious internal security threats are less likely than those caused through lack of training," said Gerry Fitzpatrick, enterprise risk services partner at Deloitte in Dublin, speaking to ElectricNews.net. "People need to understand how to classify data and treat it in a secure way."

The survey attributes the shift from external threats to internal threats to the fact that companies have been implementing technical security solutions, but have been lax about providing security training to customers and employees.

Ninety-eight percent of financial institutions have now installed antivirus software, compared to 87 per cent in 2004. The prevalence of virtual private networks (VPNs) and content filtering and monitoring has also increased significantly over the same period.

Meanwhile, security training and awareness has fallen behind. Sixty-four per cent of institutions had budgeted funds for security investments, compared to only 15 per cent who had budgeted for employee awareness and training. Very few institutions had budgeted for customer security training.

Less than half of the respondents had training and awareness initiatives scheduled for the next 12 months. Training and awareness was at the bottom of the security initiatives list, behind compliance and measurement.

Sixty-four per cent of security budgets are to be invested in technology, compared to only 15 per cent for employees' awareness and training. Very few financial institutions have any plans to increase their customers' security awareness.

Ireland rated highly in the survey, with 89 per cent of respondents having an information security strategy, the highest in EMEA. However, only 36 per cent of Irish respondents had attended security awareness training programmes in the last 12 months, the lowest percentage across the globe.

The study's release came five days after MasterCard and Visa International reported that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing a security breach that exposed 40 million accounts to possible fraud in what has been labelled the largest violation of its kind.

Copyright © 2005, ENN

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