Attacks on websites spark demand for cyber-security experts

July 5, 2011
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via Los Angeles Times

The cyber-security industry is on Defcon 1 high alert.

The recent rash of attacks on dozens of websites including those of the CIA, the FBI and even PBS is roiling the security industry and increasing demand for cyber-defense experts.

“Every time one of these breaches makes the news, I will tell you, my phone rings off the hook,” said Chris Novak, a manager of Verizon Communications Inc.’s Investigative Response Team, which now has nearly 100 members, more than double from a year ago.

With the surge in attacks in recent months, Novak sees the team tripling in size this year. The unit investigates Internet break-ins for companies around the world. Lately, its command center, where it monitors hacking activity, “has been extremely busy,” he said.

The business of protecting computers and servers from intruders has been growing nearly 10% a year since 2006, but security industry officials say 2011 may be the busiest yet. Companies are expected to spend $75.6 billion, easily surpassing last year’s record of $63 billion.

Security and data breaches have cost U.S. companies nearly $96 billion in just the first six months of the year, almost as much as it cost them in all of 2010, according to the Ponemon Institute, a research group that studies Internet security. The costs include spending on security experts and investigations, loss of work caused by a breach, system software upgrades and the value of stolen intellectual property and funds from bank accounts.

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