In the wake of the killing of al-Queda leader Osama bin Laden earlier this month, many officials from several Western countries are on high alert for any reprisal attacks – particularly in the form of cyber terrorism.
According to a recent Southwark News report, one area of which businesses and government organizations are advised to be mindful is email security. While email-based attacks may not be terribly high profile or headline-grabbing, they can wreak significant damage on an organization, and potentially expose sensitive corporate and government data.
Email-based cyber threats can come in a number of forms, but the most prevalent tend to include either viruses or spam. According to Trend Micro's annual TrendLabs report, spam levels are on the rise. Though spam volumes decreased in the final months of 2010, year-over-year volumes throughout the year were higher than in 2009.
Additionally, last year saw the rise of new phishing scams targeting social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter. As organizations continue to use these outlets, they must be leery of possible attacks.
And despite the recent elimination of the Rustock botnet, spam volumes continue to rise. While the botnet's demise reduced the quantity of spam for a few days, the threat quickly rebounded.
Southwark News recommended organizations update their systems with the most sophisticated antivirus and anti-spam software to protect against such threats. Higher-grade antivirus software typically maintains a current and automatically updated virus database, enabling it to identify potential threats before they can do significant damage.
"This is a good idea, as at times of heightened terrorist threats, new viruses and other forms of malware can proliferate on the net very quickly. The sooner your system has protection from them, the better," the report stated.