RSA CEO's take on the biggest security threat in 2005

I had lunch with Art Coviello, the CEO of RSA Security, recently and I asked him what he expects to be the single biggest security threat facing IT shops in 2005.

Coviello: I think it will be an increase in spyware attacks that can be used for mining identity information. Ultimately, it's to compromise identities.

Coviello, a self-described optimist, was cautious not to engage in doomsday predictions, and said that security technology will improve to help companies and users combat ID theft.

Then again, the techniques used by attackers will get trickier.

The bigger threat, according to Coviello, is not just stolen identities but the impact identity theft could potentially have on the level of confidence companies and consumers have in e-commerce.

Coviello: If some of these identity attacks escalate, then we'll see a diminishment of confidence in the Internet. I think it's the diminishment of confidence that might be more worrisome here.

Coviello explained that security is akin to the brakes on a car. Brakes help you slow the vehicle, thus making driving safe. But the other effect brakes have is to instill confidence in drivers that they can move fast enough to make the vehicle a worthwhile mode of transport.

Secure computing transactions, like brakes, give companies the confidence to make their information, products and services available online. Likewise, partners and customers know they can transact with those suppliers safely.

Thus, the diminishment of confidence Coviello referred to could have ramifications on e-commerce.

Coviello: It could be two-fold. That companies scale back on their offerings using the Internet is one possible ramification. Or that consumers decide to do less or stop engaging in Internet commerce. But this is not a prediction; I'm saying that those could be the ramifications.

Coviello was steadfast that he was not saying this would happen, only that it could happen, if IT does not figure out a way to eradicate identity theft.

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