How safe is your computer? Symantec vice president warns of rise in cyber attacks

Jim Avila, Richard Coolidge, and Jordyn Phelps
Power Players
How safe is your computer? Symantec vice president warns of rise in cyber attacks

Power Players

How safe is your computer? The vice president of the security software company Symantec warns that it might not be as safe as you think.

Symantec vice president Samir Kapuria tells Power Players that cyber attacks pose a “constantly growing” danger to the United States — threatening individuals, the government, and businesses alike.

“The volume, the variety and the velocity in which these attacks are hitting companies and organizations around the world is constantly growing,” Kapuria said in an interview at Symantec headquarters in Silicon Valley, Calif.

“The value of that information could be in something that is related to national defense security,” Kapuria said. “In another category, that could be the intellectual property, the lifeblood of a company. In another domain, that could actually be the intellectual property about you … your personal information that could affect you.”

The recent attack by the pro-Assad Syrian Electronic Army on the U.S. Marine recruiting website highlights the vulnerability of the government in the realm of cyber-security. And the effects of an attack on a company or individual, Kapuria pointed out, can be hard to overcome.

One hundred and sixteen U.S. companies and organizations are the target of cyber attacks every day, Kapuria said, and of those companies that are attacked, 60 percent go bankrupt.

“Most of these businesses, their lifeblood is on the Internet fabric, so … their brand and reputation is impacted so much by these types of attacks that that trust factors really impacts their business, and their customers end up going other places,” Kapuria explained.

Kapuria said his company has been focusing its energies on gaining a greater understanding of hackers’ tactics so that it can become better equipped at fending off such attacks. Symantec has also developed an interactive game to help its clients understand just how easy it can be to hack into a computer network.

“We’ve had everyone from people in finance organizations to marketing participate in these readiness challenges. They're not just technical folks,” Kapuria said. “They've gleaned how easy it is for them to reconnaissance a place, understand the assets in question, break in and steal.”

For more of the interview with Kapuria, and to hear whether he thinks the nation is taking the threat of cyber security seriously enough, check out this episode of Power Players.

ABC's Mary Bruce contributed to this episode.