Computer security spending up in Europe

March 15, 2012 at 6:30 AM
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READING, England, March 15 (UPI) -- Western European companies are spending significantly more to protect against cyberattacks as "denial-of-service" cases mount, analysts said this week.

Spending on network security vendors by the region's organizations jumped 9.7 percent in the final quarter of 2011 compared with the year earlier figure, the Reading, England, computer industry market analysts Canalys reported Monday.

The growth figures came as high-profile distributed denial-of-service attacks by "hactivist" groups such as Anonymous and Lulz Security have grabbed headlines this month, exposing weaknesses in the cybersecurity of Web sites run by the Vatican, Visa, Mastercard, eBay and others.

Showing even stronger growth in network security spending were Russia and emerging markets in Central and Eastern Europe, which posted an impressive 14.9 percent gain, said Canalys analyst Nushin Hernandez.

"Organizations are investing to protect against the rise in denial-of service attacks," he said.

Data centers, managed security services and small businesses are beefing up security spending to deal with DDoS attacks and counter the booming phenomenon of employees taking personal smartphones and computer tablets into the workplace, Canalys senior analyst Alex Smith added.

The increased spending in Western Europe was especially impressive given the economic woes of its southern neighbors such as Spain, Italy and Greece and indicates the priority companies are placing on security in the wake of the publicity garnered by hactivist groups such as Anonymous.

Six people alleged to be members of an Anonymous splinter group known as Lulz Security, or LulzSec, have been arrested in recent months in a global crackdown, including one in New York, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Prosecutors revealed this month Manhattan resident Hector Xavier Monsegur, also known as "Sabu," pleaded guilty in August to computer hacking conspiracy as well as other charges and currently faces as much as 124 years in prison.

Anonymous and Lulz Security have been responsible for compromising the security of more than 1 million people through the disclosure of their personal data, law enforcement sources told the newspaper.

Authorities alleged Monsegur and his colleagues took responsibility for cyberattacks against Visa, Mastercard and eBay Inc.'s Paypal as retaliation for their refusal to process payments for WikiLeaks, the Journal said.

Also allegedly targeted were the Web sites of Irish political party Fine Gael, security firm HBGary Inc. and Fox Broadcasting.

The two days after the arrests were revealed the hactivists claimed responsibility for launching DDoS attacks on the Web sites of the Vatican and the Spanish anti-virus software company Panda Security, reports indicated.

The Vatican's Web site became unresponsive while an Internet posting claimed the attack was an act of revenge for wrongs wrought by the church, such as the alleged sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests and the historic practice of selling indulgences for sins, The Catholic News reported.

PC Magazine said 25 of Panda Security's Web sites were disabled by a DDoS attack and that an employee who had publicly express approval of the LulzSec arrests was specifically targeted.

"The attack did not breach Panda Security's internal network and neither source code, update servers nor customer data was accessed," Panda Senior Research Adviser Pedro Bustamante wrote in a blog post.

At the same time, users in parts of Europe couldn't access Facebook pages, which some suspected was part of an Anonymous counter cyberattack, IDG News Service reported.

It said some users noticed Facebook was down in most of Europe, Egypt, Turkey and Russia for parts of March 7.

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