New online threats 'will come through the Cloud'

Social media and Cloud Computing have increased the vulnerability of UK companies and public sector organisations to new cyber threats, with hacking and denial of service attacks having doubled since 2008.

This is one of the preliminary findings of the 2010 Information Security Breaches Survey (ISBS) commissioned by Infosecurity Europe, and authored by consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

The survey finds that the rate of adoption of newer technologies has accelerated over the last two years, and most respondents now say they use wireless networking, remote access, and VoIP. Some 85 per cent of smaller organisations said they were using wireless Internet access – that is almost double the reported use in 2008. The number of organisations allowing staff to have remote access to their systems has also increased over the last two years, with 90 per cent of large companies surveyed now permitting this.

Some 15 per cent of large organisations have detected actual penetration by an unauthorised outsider into their network in the last year, and it is likely that many more were undetected. 25 per cent of large organisations have suffered a denial of service attack in the last year, also more than double the figure for 2008. Outsourcing IT services does not make the security risk go away, but few companies are taking enough steps to ensure their outsourced services are not vulnerable to attack.

As organisations have tried to reduce their IT costs, they have increasingly turned to external providers who host applications on their behalf. These services, including Cloud Computing and Software as a Service (SaaS), are now used to some extent by over 75 per cent of the organisations polled; and of these affirmatives, 44 per cent say that they are now entrusting ‘critical services’ to third parties.

The findings are based on responses from security professionals in over 500 organisations in multiple industry sectors, of which around 25 per cent were from the public sector.

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