The week in security: Security leading IT jobs demand; governments double down on spend

The title of security analyst is the most in-demand position in IT, according to a survey of industry demand. Yet much of that job still involves trying to teach employees not to fall for online scams – which, according to new figures, took over 2500 Australians for more than $22.7m last year alone. Add to this concerns that a defeat for anti-piracy efforts around the movie Dallas Buyers' Club will lead to increased use of BitTorrent – and all the security issues that it entails – and it's a tough, thankless job.

Hackers stole credentials related to 9000 Department of Homeland Security employees, with threats made to post the details of 20,000 workers for that country's Federal Bureau of Investigation. Attacks like this – and another that saw 100,000 electronic-filing PINs stolen from the Internal Revenue Service – it's no wonder that the US government wants to boost spending on cybersecurity – including $US3.1 billion just to upgrade legacy systems – yet hopefully it will spend better than Australia's government, which some see as the APAC region's most spendthrift country when it comes to security.

Information security is a fascinating corner of the enterprise IT world – not the least when it sees cybercriminals adopting espionage tactics to pull off bank heists, or organised hacker groups running extensive extortion schemes.

Even as a new Java-based Trojan was used to attack over 400,000 systems, a curiosity in Java's design led to warnings about users' Downloads folders.

Also a stalwart of the worst-offenders list, Flash is in Google's crosshairs as the company said it would stop taking Flash advertisements in July. Google was also pushing its security barrow by giving away 2GB of extra storage space for users to complete a brief account security checkup.

Facebook, which like Google has been running a bug-bounty program with cash rewards to motivate online users, shared the results of its program during 2015. Also on the cash front, the Pwn2Own contest put out a $US75,000 ($A105,000) bounty on a bypass for protections built into VMware Workstation.

Lawyers were contemplating new technologies that could automate much of their work, while Cisco was contemplating flaws in new thermostats that it says highlight the risks of Internet of Things (IoT) devices that are often made by companies with less-than-robust attention to security.

IBM was also on that wagon, pointing out that IoT risks are expanding as its X-Force hacker team broke into and controlling a smart building. Startup Indegy offered a way to monitor industrial-control devices for changes that suggest a security breach.

SAP, for its part, was patching leaky factory software that posed interesting possibilities for hackers. And Cisco users were being warned to patch their firewalls immediately unless they have nothing to protect.

Equally tempting are the ongoing raft of Android vulnerabilities being detected in mobile apps: according to Trend Micro, four third-party Android app stores offer apps that target root access to the user's device.

With growing momentum supporting the idea of patching back doors rather than creating them, several US Congressmen are proposing to ban states from requesting software vendors to install encryption backdoors in their products.

This, as a study found that laws mandating back doors or restricting cryptography won't work on an international basis because it is too easy for criminals to switch to another platform.


Join us at the CSO Perspectives Roadshow in March.

CSO is proud to present our international keynote speakers: Robert Lentz, former CISO of US Department of Defense discussing the evolution of Cyber Security and Graham Cluley, world- renown IT Security blogger and Analyst (UK) on the rise of Malware in our age. We will also be featuring our Security Awareness stream, where you will hear from the likes of NAB and ANZ, as they discuss the importance of staff and customer security awareness programs. We will have up to 18 different interactive Security Exchange discussions on a variety of different topics for you to choose from as you build your personalised agenda for the day. Join CSO for a day of networking with your peers, engaging and discussing topics relevant to you, hearing from some of the top worldwide IT Security leaders in the market and attending the exhibition floor to win some amazing prizes.

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