Recession Could Be Fueling IT Security Threats


The last few months has seen a spike in hackers trying to steal data, researchers say

The last 12 months have seen an “explosive” growth in malware according to the latest report from hosted IT security provider ScanSafe.

Citing the results of its Annual Global Threat Report released this week, the online security services company said there has been a 582 percent growth in malware comparing like quarters in 2007 and 2008.

The company added that so-called “data-theft Trojans” – code designed to allow remote theft of company data – had increased by 1559 percent.

Rather than putting the rise in malware down to a natural growth in online malware — fueled for example by a corresponding increase in use of social networking sites and other interactive web apps — ScanSafe claims the rise is connected with the economic downturn.

“We saw a continued acceleration of web-delivered malware in 2008, reaching significant peaks in both October and November. The numbers are staggering,” said Mary Landesman, senior security researcher, ScanSafe. “There is a high correlation of increased online crime with the decline in the global economy. It could be that the increasing levels of job loss and uncertainty are fueling the surge in criminal activity.”

ScanSafe has also put forward the theory that as legitimate sources of income are becoming harder to come by, individuals with IT expertise may be looking for illegal alternatives. “It is also likely that cyber crime is proving to be a viable business opportunity in a climate where legitimate opportunities are becoming increasingly more limited,’ said Mary Landesman.