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Local authorities should enhance their data security against breaches

According to a survey, 85% of the general public believes there has been a security breach in the computer systems of their local official department.

The survey involving 240 individuals was conducted on the net under the supervision of security firm Sophos prior to the discovery of the data breach at the HM Revenue and Customs.

The survey found that 93% of the respondents were worried about the hack because they were not sure how well or what security solutions their local authorities deployed while 57% doubted if the local councils were doing everything necessary to stop a breach from occurring as a result of hackers' intentions or an accident.

However, 86% of those surveyed said the local authorities rather than the hackers were to be blamed for such kinds of criminal breach.

Senior Security Consultant at Sophos, Carole Theriault, said that it was indeed a great idea that a good many of the services of the public sector were being provided over the Internet for the common mass, but this is only welcome if there is a security strategy with proven efficacy that enjoys users' trust. The open access is acceptable if it doesn't lead to any risk for the network as well as not make dent in public confidence, Theriault commented. ComputerWeekly reported this on November 21, 2007.

Also commenting on the breach, Sophos' Senior Technology Consultant, Graham Cluley, said that if the data landed up with wrong people, there is a risk of it being handed over to gangs of online identity thieves to earn substantial profits. Taking only a few minutes, they could make copies of the data and distribute it to criminals worldwide who would manipulate them for personal gains. The Internet had many auction sites in its darker areas where hackers traded their stolen material to equally malicious parties, said Cluley. Precision Marketing published this on November 23, 2007.

The survey also revealed that 54% of those who used the Internet try to gain benefit from unsecured networks to hook on it even after knowing that this could result in theft of their important financial and personal information.

Related article: Local Internet Crime Gang Busted in South Africa, 13 Held

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