Intellectual capital is the new cybercrime currency
Posted on 28 March 2011.
Cybercriminals understand there is greater value in selling a corporations’ proprietary information and trade secrets which have little to no protection making intellectual capital their new currency of choice, according to McAfee and SAIC.

The cyber underground economy is making its money on the theft of corporate intellectual capital which includes trade secrets, marketing plans, research and development findings and even source code.

McAfee and SAIC surveyed more than 1,000 senior IT decision makers in the U.S., U.K., Japan, China, India, Brazil and the Middle East. Their study reveals the changes in attitudes and perceptions of intellectual property protection in the last two years. The findings revealed which countries were perceived as the least safe to store corporate data, the rate at which organizations are experiencing breaches and the response rate to prevent or remediate data breaches.


“Cybercriminals have shifted their focus from physical assets to data driven properties, such as trade secrets or product planning documents,” said Simon Hunt, VP and CTO, endpoint security at McAfee. “We’ve seen significant attacks targeting this type of information. Sophisticated attacks such as s Operation Aurora, and even unsophisticated attacks like Night Dragon, have infiltrated some of the of the largest, and seemingly most protected corporations in the world. Criminals are targeting corporate intellectual capital and they are often succeeding.”

Key findings from this year’s report include the following:

Impact of Data Breaches - A quarter of organizations have had a merger/acquisition and, or a new product/solution roll-out stopped or slowed by a data breach, or the credible threat of a data breach. If an organization experienced a data breach, only half of those organizations took steps to remediate and protect systems from future breaches.

Organizations are looking to store intellectual property abroad - The economic downturn has resulted in an increase of organizations reassessing the risks of processing data outside their home country, in search of cheaper options, with approximately half of organizations surveyed responding they would do so, an overall increase since 2008. Approximately one third of organizations are looking to increase the amount of sensitive information they store abroad, up from one in five two years ago.

Cost of securing data abroad – In China, Japan, U.K. and the U.S., organizations are spending more than $1 million a day on their IT. In the U.S., China, and India, organizations are spending more than $1 million per week on securing sensitive information abroad.

Geographic threat perceptions to intellectual property - China, Russia, Pakistan are perceived to be the least safe for data storage, and the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States are perceived to be the most safe. Of the global organizations surveyed however, a large amount of organizations are not conducting frequent risk assessments, with more than a quarter of organizations asses the threats or risks posed to their data only twice a year or less.

Organizations keeping quiet about data breaches - Only three in ten organizations report all data breaches suffered, and six in ten organizations currently “pick and choose” the breaches they report. The report also shows that organizations may seek out countries with more lenient disclosure laws, with eight in ten organizations that store sensitive information abroad influenced by privacy laws requiring notification of data breaches to customers.

Device management a current challenge - One of the greatest challenges organizations face when managing information security is the proliferation of devices, such as iPads, iPhones and Androids. Securing mobile devices continues to be a pain point for most organizations, with 62 percent of respondents identifying this as a challenge. Concurrently, the report shows the most significant threat reported by organizations when protecting sensitive information is data leaks.





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