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Firewalls crucial to keep cybercriminals out

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In March this year, Internet users across the world experienced slowed down service due to what has been called the biggest cyber attack in history. Although the attack was specifically aimed at European spam fighting group The Spamhaus Project, websites around the whole world were affected. Security experts say this is because the hackers used more sophisticated techniques than those that are usually seen in most DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks, since it targeted the infrastructure of the entire Web.

Internet users across the world experienced slowed down service due to what has been called the biggest cyber attack in history (image: file)

While this major attack grabbed headlines around the world due to its massive scope, cybercrime in all forms, shapes and sizes against companies and organisations of all types is also on the increase.

In fact, while attacks against large corporations are the ones that usually end up in the news, a recent report reveals that small businesses are the targets of cyber attacks more frequently.

According to Jayson O’Reilly, Director: Sales and Innovation at security solutions provider DRS, hackers are honing in on small businesses due to a number of reasons. “Small businesses don’t have the same budgets to invest in IT security as larger corporations do, which is why many of them still skimp on it. They also think that since they are “small fry”, they’re too insignificant to be on the attack radar of cyber criminals. However, their banking details and customer information are just as valuable to crooks as those found on the databases of larger companies and corporations. With small companies and their often lax security measures, the criminals don’t have to work as hard to get their hands on that information, so they simply go for it.”

Last year, a survey among small businesses revealed that only about 52% of the businesses surveyed had a plan in place for keeping their business secure against cyber threats, while 40% admitted to having no contingency plan for responding or reporting a data breach, and loss of customer or employee information, credit card information or intellectual property.

O’Reilly says no business owner would ever dream of having their company in an open space where anyone can just wander in at any time. “Just as you need a walled space with doors that can be locked to protect your business, you need security measures such as firewalls to guard your business’s network.

“Firewalls are software or hardware-based network security systems that monitor traffic between a user’s computer or network, and the Internet,” O’Reilly explains. “Using a firewall is as crucial as having anti-virus software, because it filters out malware and viruses and prevent it from entering your network.”

Yet findings in a recent report released by information technology research and advisory company Gartner, Inc. show that less than 10% of Internet connections today are using next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) to secure themselves. The report, entitled Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Network Fireworks, does predict that this will eventually increase, saying: “… by the end of 2014, this [figure] will rise to 35% of the installed base, with 60% of new purchases being NGFWs.”

“With attacks becoming increasingly sophisticated and malware becoming more complex, IT security is something that companies simply cannot afford to skimp on anymore,” O’Reilly concludes.

Staff writer

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