Control of malware seen as weak spot for Latin American companies

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Control of malware attacks continues to be the weakest point in terms of cyber security in Latin American companies, Chilean IT security solutions provider Neosecure's deputy manager, Marcos Sandoval, told BNamericas.

According to Sandoval, traditional firewall and antivirus software is no longer sufficient to protect companies from increasingly sophisticated attacks, as it cannot detect malware.

"There's been a revolution in security attacks in the last two years. The majority of technologies that were being used have now matured. These methods are too well known by attackers, who can get around them," Sandoval said, speaking on the sidelines of the Segurinfo conference in Chilean capital Santiago.

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Computers can become infected with viruses not only from downloading specific files, opening emails or visiting dubious websites, but also through legitimate, respectable sites and search tools such as Google and advertising banners.

This malware can lie dormant and be activated remotely from a third party to carry out practices such as hacktivism - the use of computers and computer networks as a means of protest to promote political ends.

Hacktivism has been carried out in Chile in relation to controversial political issues such as the ongoing student protests and opposition to the proposed construction of the HidroAysen hydro electric dam in Patagonia.

"From your company, someone could make attacks on the presidential office. Technically under current law the responsibility would fall on your company. The breach of security at your company does not remove the responsibility of authoring the attack from your company," Sandoval said.

Companies constantly need to keep abreast of the evolving trends in cyber attacks, especially as more workers bring their personal devices to work and payments are made online, Sandoval said.

"Companies are increasingly making work-related payments, such as to employee pension funds online. This means that not only the bank is under threat but you as a company as well," Sandoval said.

According to Sandoval, about 95% of company computers are now infected with some sort of malware. The type of industries most at risk has moved beyond banks to retail chains, which are seeing increasingly more sales online.

Personal information such as medical examinations are stored and sometimes sent digitally. And heavy industries like mining companies and utilities are increasingly controlling processes automatically via the internet, all of which leaves them exposed to attacks.

Neosecure believes it has a competitive advantage in the security space, as it is not "married" to any one technology and can combine multiple technologies to provide a solution on a single platform, Sandoval said.

It works with its security operations center (SOC), meaning it can carry out its correlations between different events and make adjustments accordingly.

"We're not a stand-alone solution. We have an ongoing relationship with the client," Sandoval said.

The executive said the company is growing more than 30% a year, in keeping with growth rates of digital adoption at companies. Outside Chile, the company has presence in Colombia, Peru and Argentina, and clients are asking Neosecure to accompany them in their expansions to Mexico and Brazil.