Cyberterrorism remains a real threat says C&W exec

Bill Hancock, chief security officer at Cable & Wireless (C&W) has one clear message to the world: Cyberterrorism is alive and well.

Hancock delivered this message at the Asian Wall Street Journal CEO Technology Summit on Tuesday, in Hong Kong.

"It's real. It's a major problem. And if it's not on your radar, put it there," Hancock told an audience of senior executives at Hong Kong's Grand Hyatt Hotel.

"A year after the 9/11 attacks in the US, most Internet sites have no clue on how to deal with cyberterrorism or even what is involved. Yet, if they were linked, however unwittingly, to a terror attack the damage to that organisation's reputation would be incalculable."

During the seminar, Hancock outlined some of the other threats facing corporate and government networks today such as viruses, default passwords, vendor distributed "malware", malicious insiders, employee extortion and the dangers associated with the rapid proliferation of wireless networks.

While cyberterrorism is a new phenomenon, security breaches in IT infrastructure are not. However, the rate of growth and breadth of impact are very disturbing. The average cost resulting from a serious security breach is now estimated at $US450,000 up to $825,000.

"They use quite sophisticated techniques such as steganography -- hiding messages, whether text or images, within other files containing text, images, or even sound. This can be done without a site's owner ever noticing because the changes to the original files are almost imperceptible," explained Hancock.

"Any number of organisations in Hong Kong, across Asia, or around the world could be supporting terrorists right now without ever knowing it. That's not only scary, it's irresponsible," said Hancock who ended with a corporate note that promised, "Cable & Wireless is committed to making sure our networks and those of our customers are not corrupted."

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