More web security staff planned as cyber threats grow

The government of Hong Kong aims to boost the number of staff by 50 per cent to address the growth of cyber crimes targeting the city.

The designated agency, Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Centre, handles web security incidents in Hong Kong. While high-profile cases involving big time players like Baidu and Google are often found within the headlines of technology news, the number of unreported cases is enough reason for alarm. Out of 180,000 sites with .hk suffix, there was an increase in number of defaced websites, from 192 in 2008 to 251 last year. Another 182 websites had malicious codes inserted last year, up 60 per cent from 2008.

In 2008, Hong Kong’s designated domain extension “.hk” was deemed most risky domain in the world. Cyber criminals place malicious code into websites where transactions of unsuspecting visitors are compromised. On other cases, visitors unknowingly downloaded spyware into their computers while accessing infected websites.

I wouldn’t think these attacks are unusual because Hong Kong has high Internet penetration rate and that the convenience of online transactions drive people to use Internet when doing Internet banking or online shopping. This attracts many predators who try to steal personal information by setting up false websites. Adding to that is the emergence of new product releases like Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system which may bring in new threats.

One thing that needs to be done is to educate Internet users and enable them to detect attacked websites and avoid them at once.