New McAfee CEO Bullish On Evolving Security Threats

Dave DeWalt tells an Interop audience that McAfee is in a position to take on the growing business market that is springing up around cyber crime.

May 23, 2007

2 Min Read
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In one of his first major keynotes, the new president and CEO of McAfee said the threat landscape is changing and expanding, and the security vendor is looking to take on security risk management as a whole.

Walking off the stage and down the aisle in his Tuesday afternoon keynote at the Interop trade show in Las Vegas, Dave DeWalt told the audience of IT and business professionals that we will see more malware in the next 18 months than we have in the past 20 years. Researchers at the company's legendary Avert Labs are seeing 17,000 new phishing sites every month. He pointed to a 50% to 80% growth in spyware.

"Pretty amazing," he said several times. "I believe there's a whole new ecosystem in security and it's growing."

In both his keynote and in an interview afterwards with InformationWeek, DeWalt was quick to make it clear that McAfee is more than an anti-virus vendor. After about 45 days on the job, DeWalt said the threats are far-reaching and McAfee is moving to take on the new risks.

The 42-year-old man newly at McAfee's helm joined the security company on April 2. In the interview, he said he's been going at full speed for his nearly two months on the job. He said the company had a lot of "holes" in its management team with many positions sitting empty when he arrived. Most of those holes, he noted, are now filled.The job now is to focus on the evolving threat landscape and the growing business market that is springing up around cyber crime.

During his keynote, DeWalt noted that 37,413 new pieces of malware hit the Internet last year. A hacker, with a multi-star rating, was actually selling an exploit for a Microsoft Excel vulnerability on eBay for $55. And DeWalt, who said he's had his own credit card information stolen, estimated that one out of four people will suffer some kind of digital crime.

Criminals are treating hacking, spamming and malware writing like big business. Botnet herders are making major money renting out their botnets to spammers who want to use the thousands or even hundreds of thousands of zombie computers to send out massive waves of bulk e-mail. Hackers are selling exploits and rootkits. Cyber criminals have their own distribution channels and social and business networks.

Cyber crime, as a whole, will cost $105 billion this year alone, said DeWalt. And the FTC calculated that $58 billion a year will be lost because of data loss alone.

"How do we tag information so it doesn't leave that device unless you want it to?" he asked. "You have to prevent it at the host and at the network. It's one of the biggest market segments coming in data security."0

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