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3/7/2008
07:18 PM
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Google Report Highlights Spam As Top Security Issue

The company's acquisition of Postini helped the search engine produce its first annual Google Communications Intelligence Report.

Having recently acquired messaging security company Postini, Google now finds itself in the threat-prediction business. And as is the case with just about every other computer security company, Google has research to show everyone how dangerous the online world has become.

Thus we come to the 2008 Annual Google Communications Intelligence Report.

Google's security forecast calls for continued spam-blended virus attacks with an increasing focus on identity theft. The attacks will rely on social engineering, the report says, and will rely on messages that reference current events, like the upcoming Olympic Games and natural disasters.

"Further, virus attacks will target executives at specific companies whose intellectual property is deemed valuable on the black market by the hackers," the report says. "These attacks will appear to come from legitimate business agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service, the Better Business Bureau, and the Securities and Exchange Commission."

Google said it expects such incidents will prompt organizations to eliminate live links in customer e-mail communications.

Google also anticipates an increase in the deployment of outbound message monitoring systems, in the adoption of encryption, and in the use of archiving technology.

Identity theft attacks, Google says, will be launched increasingly from sites that let users create and post their own content.

And there's this shocker: Google predicts business will be good. "In addition, hosted solutions (SaaS) will play a major role in reducing the cost and complexity of these products," the report says.

Surely, it's a coincidence that Google's Postini sells hosted solutions. Oh, and by the way, hosted messaging costs $5,000 to $17,000 annually, compared with $20,000 to $69,000 for traditional servers and software, according to Google's calculations.

Though Google may be biased about this, it's worth considering whether the company might simultaneously be right.

Gartner seems to think so. Last year, Ben Pring, research VP for Gartner, said, "The dysfunction of the client-server era is driving alternative approaches to IT development, delivery and management, which SaaS is the most apparent version of. There is now a widespread consensus among the movers and shakers of the IT industry that SaaS is an important and meaningful issue which can no longer be regarded as the 'lunatic fringe.' "

Google's report does offer more than reasons to buy Google products. It notes, for example, that spam continues to be one of the top worries at most organizations. And it says that executives blame IT rather than end users for security and compliance.

The message here for IT administrators is teach your users how to be safe online or you'll get schooled by management.

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