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Hacker's Paradise

Watch out for the new wave of computer snooping.

There's no stopping the onward march of technology--and the security threats that go along with it. You're already familiar with spam, viruses, spyware, worms, Trojans, phishing and pharming. So what's next? We caught up with Vincent Weafer, senior director of Symantecsecurity response, to see what internet security threats are shaping up.

One major trend is a move from general, widespread attacks like spam to more specific targeting of small businesses and their desktop computers, which are seen as a weak link. "The biggest thing is that, [while] traditional attacks have been motivated by curiosity or fame, today we're increasingly seeing attempts motivated by profit," says Weafer. Attackers are looking for personal information like credit card numbers, financial information and passwords. Keyboard snooping is on the rise as a means to that end. Keyboard loggers are malicious programs that track what is typed and sends the information back to the hacker. Weafer believes the use of keyboard loggers will increase over the coming year.

The security threat to VoIP is an emerging area that entrepreneurs need to be aware of. Potential problems include voice phishing, voice spam and directory harvesting. "The main area of concern is that some people are simply deploying VoIP gateways and routers and forgetting they need to have firewalls and intruder prevention that recognize VoIP," says Weafer. While no widespread attacks have been reported yet, it's just a matter of time before hackers have a go at VoIP.

The good news is that using common sense and taking some basic precautions can go a long way toward protecting your business. Having a security policy in place and keeping employees informed on proper security measures is a good starting point. Your IT person can keep you up-to-date with firewalls, encryption technologies, anti-virus, anti-spam and other necessary security programs.

This story appears in the March 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

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