By John E. Dunn
14 September 2007
Company insiders have overtaken viruses as the most reported security
incident, the annual report from the respected US Computer Security
Institute (CSI) has reported.
The annual Computer Crime and Security Survey [PDF] for 2007 surveyed
494 security personnel from US corporations and government agencies,
finding that insider incidents were cited by 59 percent of respondents,
while only 52 percent said they had encountered a conventional virus in
the previous year.
Both insider and virus incidents have been falling since a high in the
year 2000, but this is the first time insider incidents have been more
reported than viruses. The CSI defines such incidents in a very general
way, covering abuses such as leaking or stealing company information,
using pirated software, or accessing pornography.
The other type of incident on the rise was laptop and mobile device
theft, which at 50 percent of respondents in the survey could soon also
overtake the virus to be the second most reported security hassle faced
by IT staff.
The CSI steers away from drawing hard conclusions from the survey
figures, noting more than once that security vendors have a vested
interest in promoting their own particular area of business, including
insider threats - as the most pressing one for companies to protect
themselves against. This makes it hard to judge the seriousness as
opposed to the incidence - of specific threats.
Respondents also reported a higher incidence of targeted attacks, where
organisations felt they had been specifically singled out for attack.
Twenty-eight percent of those questioned reported between one and five
such attacks, with 67 percent having no idea whether they had been
attacked in this way or not.
Internet-based attacks were now becoming tightly integrated, blurring
the lines between company and consumer security, traditionally seen as
In the past, the struggle has been cast as one between security
professionals and the criminals who attack their networks. Now, the
picture is more complicated. Criminals attack both enterprise networks
and steal customer data. They use this data to then attack individual
consumers, the report concludes.
The CSI survey draws a rather confusing and complex picture of security
worries in US companies, but it has one advantage over the legion of
other mostly vendor-driven reports than now litter the news pages - it