Are businesses underestimating targeted cyber threats?


Almost all British businesses believe they are adequately protected against targeted attacks on their systems, a survey has indicated.

The Ipsos MORI survey, commissioned by Detica, discovered 94 per cent of British firms felt they had good enough protection, yet traditional defences still proved popular.

Almost two-fifths said they used a firewall to protect against targeted cyber attacks, while 22 per cent trusted in their anti-virus systems. However, such protections may not be good enough, the Detica report suggested.

Furthermore, just 14 per cent said they were at high risk of a targeted attack and only one respondent said they were at a very high risk.

Board members appeared somewhat unbothered about targeted attacks as well. Just 24 per cent of respondents said their board had requested information about such targeted attacks in the last 12 months.

Henry Harrison, technical director for Detica, told IT PRO a major problem for companies and their understanding of targeted cyber threats derived from a lack of suitable data on the subject.

In particular, Harrison pointed to recent stories surrounding the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in support of WikiLeaks.

"[DDoS attacks] are the cyber version of a carpet bomb," Harrison said.

"The news which has come out in the last couple of weeks has been both helpful and unhelpful... the language of attack' can be unhelpful."

Despite these concerns over media stories surrounding cyber security awareness, "we are starting to see some real coverage of these issues," he added.

However, businesses should be more worried about covert infiltration by cyber criminals in their attempts to steal data or intellectual property, Harrison explained.

Private companies are more at risk than public organisations, he claimed, especially considering many private companies help run the UK's critical infrastructure.

It emerged yesterday that the Anonymous group running DDoS campaigns in support of WikiLeaks decided to send faxes of leaked documents to various firms, including Amazon and Mastercard.

The new 'Leakflood' campaign, in which the hackers will also send out messages from Anonymous, is due to come to an end at 16:00 GMT today.

Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs, said in a company blog it was the first "FaxDDoS" he had ever seen.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.