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Identity theft becomes increasing threat

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midastouch017   Tuesday, 10/31/06 06:43:06 AM
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Identity theft becomes increasing threat

Israelis lost over $10 million as a result of identity theft in 2005, a significant portion of which was caused by password theft where stolen passwords were used to access victims' bank accounts and perform other malicious transactions.

Those numbers are from Aladdin Knowledge Systems, an Israel-based international data security company that has taken a leading role in developing methods to protect users from password theft in response to the increased vulnerability of passwords, and on Monday hosted the "Absolutely Everybody is Talking Internet Security" conference at the Airport City convention center.

"The concept is just like you have a key for your home and a key for your car, now you have a key for your data," said Aladdin CEO Yanki Margolit.

Margolit presented to the crowd of about 300 Aladdin's eToken user authentication device, which enables users to safely carry their personal digital credentials with them and log on to company networks using a USB key without the use of traditional passwords, which carry with them great risk. A traditional password can easily be stolen, lost, shared or cracked but the eToken, he said, eliminates these risks by securely storing passwords and digital credentials.

"New enemies have emerged as threats, we are now fighting big companies not teenage hackers," explained Shimon Gruper, of Aladdin, at a one of the sessions.

According to Gruper, the world of viruses and Internet theft has been penetrated by big companies who are motivated by the money.

"Cyberspace is more lucrative than the drug trade," he said, quoting statistics from the US Treasury.

Gruper identified the biggest danger as Trojan viruses, which infect the user disguised as, or imbedded in, legitimate software. Trojan viruses have the ability to infiltrate the victim's computer access passwords and track activity, a method referred to as "keylogging."

Gruper reported that during 2005 there was an increase of over 140% in Trojan viruses infecting computers. These increases, he explained were a direct result of organized networks of infectors.

Network security was also on the agenda at the conference. Because security methods often interfere with business operations, Cisco Systems, a US-based worldwide leader in networking, has collaborated with Aladdin to develop security systems that work on the network level as opposed to the individual computer or server level.

"We want security to be a business enabler, we focus on aligning the security practice to the business practice," said Boaz Elgar, security business development manager at Cisco Systems Israel. Cisco's network security products focus on creating a self-defending network, in which the entire network is a point of defense.

Meanwhile, Amir Lecker, director of Israel operations for Utimaco Safeware, a Germany-based data security developer, focused on the unique risk posed by portable devices such as PDAs, cell phones, and laptops, calling these items the "black hole" of data security because they can be easily stolen or simply lost.

"On portable items people do not have specialized security," he said. "There needs to be a mobile security system."

Margolit also commented on the broader Israeli hi-tech market, expressing concerns about its future growth.

"We used to manufacture and develop. Now we are just developing and then turning to someone else and looking for exits," he said, noting that the Indian hi-tech market developed from a center of to a leader in research and development.

"I am concerned that Israel is moving in the opposite direction," he said. "We need to make sure we pass on Israeli hi-tech to the next generation."


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