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Source: IT World Canada

Posted on November 27, 2005

      Most Canadians - from corporate decision-makers to consumers - believe their confidential data is at risk.

      That's a key finding of a national survey commissioned by Fusepoint Managed Services, Symantec Corp. and Sun Microsystems. The survey results were announced yesterday in Toronto during a roundtable discussion titled: "Managing risk: Is your business playing against the odds?"

      Conducted from October 28 to November 9 - the survey polled 565 Canadians including senior-level decision makers and consumers.

      Results indicate most corporate decision makers are acutely aware of how critical data security is to their business. For instance, the overwhelming majority (98 per cent) of those polled said a company must ensure its sensitive data is protected, while 96 per cent already use some data protection technology.

      Other survey findings demonstrate just companies and consumers are well aware of the dire consequences of a data security breach:

      - 69 per cent of decision-makers said a such breach would negatively affect their organizations' brand;

      - 58 per cent of consumers said they would terminate their relationship with a company if their personal information were compromised;

      - One-third said they would take legal action.

      However, while awareness seems pervasive, confidence is not. Only 57 per cent of decision makers are "somewhat confident" that their business would withstand an outside attack.

      According to the roundtable participants, there's good reason for this trepidation. Michael Murphy, Canadian vice-president of Symantec Corp. noted how the threat landscape has changed - with a spike in the volume and gravity of threats, but a sharp decline in response times available.

      Typically, he noted, there's an average gap of six days from the time the vulnerability is announced to when the exploit is available. However, with zero day threats, he said, the vulnerability and exploit are announced on the same day leaving companies and consumers hardly any time to react.

      Despite such an incredibly short window, businesses can do certain things to deal more effectively with zero-day threats.

      Murphy said companies should anticipate and pre-empt such threats. "You can't react to them." He said anti-virus technology, by itself, won't do the trick, and businesses and consumers need an "integrated approach to security to deal with the complexity, speed and maliciousness of threats."

      Technology integration, Murphy said, is one piece of the puzzle. He said firewalls, intrusion-detection programs and anti-virus software need to communicate with one other on a network and desktop infrastructure level.

      And integration covers not just technology but also organizational processes, people and skills, said George Kerns, president and CEO of Fusepoint Managed Services in Mississauga, Ont.

      On the "people" front, panelists concurred that education is key to preventing internal security attacks. They noted that 46 per cent of those polled believe employees who accidentally download security-compromising viruses, spyware or adware are a greater threat to data security than external forces like hackers.

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