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Cybercrime transcends all borders - McAfee consultant

Published:Friday | April 20, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Reardon: I'm worried ... even on a small island like Jamaica because I use my credit card here, I shop here, I do business and online banking here. And if someone is able to compromise that data and take it and use it in another country, I'm at risk. - Colin Hamilton/Freelance Photographer

Martin Baxter, Gleaner Writer

Have you ever considered that the private information on the desktop PC at your office or in the living room at home could be accessed by unscrupulous individuals in Poland?

"Yes," you say rather smugly, "That's why I have anti-virus software."

But what about the private information on the smartphone in your trouser pocket? That sensitive email you read on your phone about the company's financial projections, or that salacious conversation you conducted by text message last week? Now that has probably not crossed your mind.

The truth is that as technology advances, as we give smartphones and tablet PCs access to more of our sensitive information and increasingly use them to control intricate aspects of our personal and professional lives, the greater the cyber threat against the security of that information becomes.

"The mobile threat to devices, smartphones, tablets, anything in the mobile world, is one of the top five security risks that McAfee and Intel view as a major issue for the next five years," confirmed Kevin Reardon, senior director of McAfee's Worldwide Value Consulting.

"As a company, I have to worry about that because I'm a good corporate citizen, but as an individual I'm worried about that, even on a small island like Jamaica because I use my credit card here, I shop here; I do business and online banking here," he said. "And if someone is able to compromise that data and take it and use it in another country, I'm at risk. My credit is at risk, my finance is at risk, it's not something I want to have to deal with - it's a major issue."

Reardon was speaking during a McAfee security workshop held at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel in St Andrew on Wednesday.

Mainly in computer world

The US-based online security expert added that the cybercrime threat exists predominantly in the computer world and that it transcends geographical boundaries, meaning Jamaica is not exempt from this insidious and anonymous criminality.

"Last year, 75 million unique pieces of malware were identified on the Internet, 2,000 pieces of malware per day. It doesn't matter what part of the world I'm in, that's a real issue for me and the country that I'm in."

Chris Reckord, executive director of the Jamaica-based Innovative Corporate Solutions, offered his insights into Jamaica's cyber threat.

"Company owners are turning to iPads to keep up with consumer trends and also to enhance business efficiency. All of a sudden, boom! His information is unsecured out there, so it's a struggle for IT (information technology) departments, having certain types of owners who decide that 'I want the latest in technology'," he told The Gleaner.

"What Innovative Corporate Solutions will help our customers to do is to identify what the risks are for your company, because different companies have different levels of risk and the next thing is also to just ask the relevant questions to that organisation, that individual, to say where are your problem points, where are your issues right now and then coming to a recommendation."

Last year, US communication giant Verizon estimated that more than 170 million data records were stolen by cybercriminals and this figure is set to rise in 2012.