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Experts are split over whether the economic downturn will spur growth in cybercrime, but agree that companies must become better at using limited security resources.

Speaking to ZDNet UK at the CSO Interchange conference last week, Merlin, Earl of Erroll, predicted that scams will increase. "We will see hi-tech crime accelerating while security budgets are being constrained," Lord Erroll said. "IT defences will go down, and people will exploit it. There must be a real danger of this."

Corporate businesses must work out efficiencies in security, and control environments to prevent security breaches in the current environment, noted Paul Dorey, director of security and risk consultancy CSO Confidential.

"Security and risk teams can be brought together," Dorey said. "There's [also] been an evolution of security tools so they overlap functionality. People should demand [such] tools."

However, Mark Stirland, information systems security manager for the Financial Services Authority, said that the situation may not be so clear-cut. "The police are already seeing an increase in low-tech crime. People are losing their jobs, having their houses repossessed — that can push people over the edge," Stirland said. "You'll find organised crime will be hit in the same way. Their customers will stop spending money on drugs and prostitution — they may have to reduce their costs."

Stirland said that hi-tech crime is generally sponsored, and that new scams may be postponed. However, existing operations will probably continue, he said. Businesses will similarly continue to spend on managing vulnerabilities, Stirland suggested. Even so, it may become less of a priority for them to have a framework in place that uses security as a way to drive their business forward.

"You can see security as an enabler," Stirland said. "If you have good brakes on a car, you can drive a bit faster and still be safe. If you have sophisticated security controls, the business can move faster. However, if the business is starting to contract, do you need the better brakes?"

Source: ZDNet

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