Data theft could be on the rise in 2009

New Delhi: Data is precious. And Indians are increasingly stealing it.

Laid off employees, looking for revenge or for quick money, could be this year’s biggest cyber threat, say security firms like McAfee.

By copying digital data from their employers and selling it to crooks, they’ll cost their parent companies millions of dollars.

McAfee Inc, Director Kartik Shahani says, “Intellectual property data worth $4.6 billion was stolen last year. $600 million were spent for damages, $12 million of data is out-sourced to countries without any data protection.

Why should you care? Because the data stolen could be yours. A crook with your 16-digit credit card number, the three-digit CVC number at the back and your name, could buy anything with your money. It’s data like that that’s stored on company servers.

And it’s very easy to steal. Thanks to the tools we all use everyday. Banning them isn’t always practical. Software solutions do exist. But experts say more than the technology, it’s people who have to be changed.

Marketing Manager, Trend Micro Abhinav Karnwal says, “People need to be educated. They have to be told that information is confidential. That there are repercussions if it is taken out or shared with outsiders.”

Indian law threatens severe punishments in cases of data theft. A recent amendment even holds companies responsible for theft by their employees, of other firm’s data. Yet, compared to the value of the data stolen, the fines levied are just peanuts.

Cyber Lawyer Karnika Seth says, “I am of the opinion that punishments should be made more vigorous. They should be a deterrent for cyber crime.

Sixty seven per cent of data stolen from companies world wide, was stolen by insiders. Not by some sinister hacker, as you and I would assume.

However, only 40 per cent of the technology chiefs of companies worry about this threat. This year, that laxity could be suicidal.