JUNE 19, 2007
 (STAR) Imagine losing millions worth of proprietary files or corporate information assets without your knowledge. Your computer may be capable of storing a truckload of data, but a click of a finger can unleash a virus that can erase every document, every spreadsheet, every file.

In its latest investigation, the Computer Security Institute (CSI) and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Computer Intrusion Squad reported that the economic impact of virus attacks worldwide reached $14 billion.

The CSI/FBI Computer Crime and Security Survey released in 2006 said the bulk of financial loss was due to the re-funneling of funds toward virus elimination, network cleanup, computer system restoration, and makeup for diminished worker productivity and lost revenue.

Companies worldwide experienced cyber-related intellectual property breaches, decreased productivity and operational efficiency, and proprietary theft.

Losses from unauthorized access were reported at $31.2 million; $30.9 million from theft of information assets; and $42.7 million from viruses.

Notorious viruses such as Nimda, SirCam, Love Bug, Melissa, Code Red and ExploreZip disrupted business operations and needed valuable company man-hours to resolve.

In another recent report, the Philippines ranked sixth among countries with the highest number of Internet attacks. This was revealed in a 2006 study conducted by the Philippine Honeynet Project, a group focused on Internet security research and is a member of the Honeynet Research Alliance, a global forum of security research organizations tracking and monitoring hacker activity around the world.

The study noted that Philippine Internet attacks numbered 336.2 each day, most of them within the country.

Despite these facts, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) do not realize the importance of securing their Internet resources. Most SMEs still believe that anti-virus software alone would provide the online safety measures they need. While this may be effective, today’s computer viruses and hackers require sophisticated, multi-level security measures.

Computer crime has evolved from typical virus attacks to e-mail spam to website phishing to unauthorized network access to staged attacks on networks.

Businesses, industries and individuals worldwide have suffered from implanted viruses, self-replicating programs, stolen data and credit card information.

Computer threats have been known to clog computer networks, implant Trojan horse programs that steal confidential information from specific companies, prevent PC users to access program tools, delete options from their Start menu, hide file extensions or could wreak havoc on a users’ system. Suddenly the prospect of doing business online or keeping files in electronic or soft copies are unnerving.

Hacking or unauthorized access to a company’s computer network has become a commercial endeavor. Professional hackers, or computer programmers who purposely steal valuable information, have even developed the gall to advertise their work. Everybody who owns a PC or who browses the Web or has a network connection is an easy target.

But businesses that have been victimized by computer crime have started to fight back. Information technology managers are now using security software and some are even enrolled in courses on network or Internet security. In spite of this, the underlying question remains: “Are the data secure enough?”

Businesses now need a full suite of security programs that combines PC security issues and network concerns to ensure that both their financial and information assets are watertight. Hopefully, with correctly skilled and certified manpower and the proper solution, this highly advanced form of computer crime could finally be locked down.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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