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Middle East not immune to cyber-crime, security experts warn

Investment in fighting cyber-crime remains critically low, and a general ignorance of its consequences is leaving businesses across the Middle East vulnerable to attack, network security experts Stonesoft have warned.

Research from Gartner showed that just $20 million was spent on investigating cyber-crime in 2002, a large under-investment given the scale and potential of the problem.

'Many enterprise-level businesses in the region are not investing in protection from external attacks on their IT systems, even though they contain sensitive mission-critical information,' said Jari Valvisto, vice president, Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe and emerging markets, Stonesoft.

'The Gartner research has shown that official pursuit of the internet criminal is lacking, which makes it imperative for companies to make their own arrangements to protect their networks,' added Valvisto.

The internet offers criminals a range of opportunities to exploit businesses, a vulnerability often not reflected by IT managers' investment in protection. A lack of trained security professionals in the region increases the risk to businesses in the Middle East.

'A lack of understanding is the biggest problem,' continued Valvisto. 'IT decision-makers are not aware of the problem's size, or of the many ways to thwart the activities of internet criminals. A tailored network security system, installed after a detailed process of analysis and risk assessment, is an essential defence.'

According to Valvisto, companies need to take a forward-thinking approach to their network security arrangements, constantly revising their systems to ensure they remain adequately protected as their operations expand.

'There is more to network security than the initial implementation of a solution, upgrades and ongoing maintenance also have to be taken into account,' added Valvisto. 'Businesses make very large investments in their IT systems, but too many fail to organise sufficient security backup,' he added. 'The only way to contain the explosion of internet criminality worldwide is for business people to educate themselves, and see investment in security as a non-negotiable safeguard.'

Stonesoft recently launched its intrusion protection system (IPS) in the Middle East, which alerts IT managers to outside infringements of their systems and unauthorized hacking activity.

StoneGate IPS can be implemented as a stand-alone product or as part of the StoneGate security platform, which delivers seamless integration with the StoneGate MultiLayer Firewall and StoneGate MultiLink VPN. These security components are administered through a single management console and share inter-system communications and unified concepts for optimum security and administrative efficiency.

Beirut,07 05 2004
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The Daily Star
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