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Source: ECommerce Times

Posted on February 10, 2001

      Cybercrime and Internet privacy are now top-of-mind for chief information officers. According to a recent survey, nearly two-thirds said they worry about hackers stealing their personal identity.

      A poll in January of more than 150 CIOs by IDG's CIO Magazine found that 64 percent of senior technology executives are worried about hackers stealing their e-mail and personal identity; 6 percent say they have already been victimized.

      Their fears may be well-founded. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft Hotline receives more than 850 calls per week, more than two-thirds from victims. The FTC has found that 54 percent of consumers report identity theft in the form of credit card fraud.

      This fact isn't lost on the CIOs surveyed. While more than 90 percent said they shop online frequently using personal credit card information, one-third said they will only shop on certain sites.

      "The fact that [CIOs are] concerned about personal identity theft underscores the seriousness of current security and privacy concerns," said Lew McCreary, editorial director of CIO magazine, in a statement.

Data For Sale?

      CIOs are also worried about the privacy of data they divulge online. Some 70 percent believe that Web sites that collect personal information about them do not own the data, and should be required to get permission before sharing or selling their info.

      But faith in the dot-com world is low. The same 70 percent say they worry that their information will go to the highest bidder if the e-commerce site that collected it goes bankrupt. A U.S. bankruptcy court weighed in on the issue in January, allowing bankrupt Toysmart.com to destroy its customer list after Internet privacy group Truste and attorneys general from 39 U.S. states tried to stop the sale of the customer names, addresses and buying habits.

Cybercrime at Work

      CIOs are also concerned about attacks against corporate networks, which seem to be on the rise. About 20 percent of the CIOs who responded to the survey said that attacks on their company's corporate networks have increased over the last three months.

      About 12 percent said their company had lost money as a result of external computer crime, and 40 percent of those said the loss exceeded US$100,000. Nearly 17 percent of the companies that lost money pegged the damage at more than $1 million.

      CIOs are also concerned about how the knowledge of an external security breach would affect public perception of their company. Nearly two-thirds said information about a hacker attack would adversely affect their company's valuation.

New Laws Likely

      The CIOs are not alone in their concerns. New laws addressing Internet security and privacy are certain to be addressed during this session of the U.S. Congress.

      Senator John Edwards (D-North Carolina) proposed a bill that would require software manufacturers to inform consumers if cookies that track consumer Internet movement are embedded in the software. Edwards has dubbed the bill the Spyware Control Act.

      But it is not cookies that the CIOs are most eager to have the 107th Congress address. More than one-third said legislators should tackle the issue of standardizing broadband access first. And about 28 percent said the need for spam protection should take priority in Congress this spring.

Spam Spam Spam

      The call for spam legislation is a popular one. Groups like the Mail Abuse Prevention System (MAPS) and the Council Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail (CAUCE) have been calling for regulation of commercial e-mail for several years.

      An industry group composed primarily of companies that make their money sending commercial e-mail, the Responsible Electronic Communication Alliance (RECA), is hoping to stave off legislation by creating a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" for Internet mailers who abide by anti-spam standards.

      Several bills were proposed in Congress last year, and are likely to be resubmitted in the coming months

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