Businesses are hiring a growing number of ethical hackers to test the security of their IT systems, consulting group NCC said this week.
Announcing a 10% rise in interim profits, NCC chief executive Rob Cotton said demand for ethical hacking grew by 50% last year and would continue to rise in 2006.
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"Businesses have acknowledged they are not keeping pace with the sophistication of the non-ethical hacker. They need to take advice to overcome what is an epidemic threat to businesses," he said.
NCC said firms were increasingly asking consultants to check the resilience of their businesses to "social engineering" attacks.
NCC specialists have been hired to pose as IT staff to trick employees into disclosing their user names and passwords, Cotton revealed. In other cases, consultants have posed as staff to gain access to buildings and log on to office systems.
NCC also reported increased demand for forensic IT services, following a series of data thefts by company employees, particularly temporary staff.
"If you are a hacker, the best place to hack someone to obtain financial gain is inside the business," Cotton said.