IT security linked to saving lives, survey reveals

More than a quarter of companies believe that if their websites go down or they suffer a major security breach it could potentially cost lives, a survey has revealed.

More than a quarter of companies believe that if their websites go down or they suffer a major security breach it could potentially cost lives, a survey has revealed.

The Chinese were considered the greatest risk by 40% of 300 European IT professionals polled by security management firm AlienVault.

Also topping the list of privacy risks were the US government and the Russians (13%), the UK government (12%) and Israel (4%). Only 5% said they were not worried about privacy violations.

“We know that if a government site or a national critical infrastructure is hacked it will cost lives, but it’s the impact for private companies that is all too often ignored," said Barmak Meftah, CEO and president of AlienVault.

If a commercial enterprise holds personal information about people’s private lives, it could prove critical—even a matter of life or death, he said.

Meftah cited an example of a dating site being hacked. The implications to its members are potentially huge, he said, such as the risk of individuals becoming victims to stalking.

The biggest security risk, however, was identified as the insider threat by 71% of respondents, followed by hackers (28%), consultants and other third parties (7%), and government (5%).

Some 83% of respondents said security could be improved through better collaboration in the open source community.

Meftah said AlienVault had launched its Open Threat Exchange in February to encourage security information sharing across open source users and commercial customers.

"We recognise that the way to beat the hackers is to facilitate collaboration among all members of the security community," he said.

But Meftah believes the talents and inputs of the open source community are critical because they are on the front lines of innovation and represent a wide spectrum of organisations.

"Encouraging them to collaborate even more will be essential to staying ahead of the ever-evolving threat landscape," he said.

Read more on Hackers and cybercrime prevention

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