Screen scraping: Copyright and intellectual property issues
Safeguarding business data can prove vital to the maintenance of a company. Screen scrapers are a threat to firms' information and can be a danger to their intellectual property (IP) as well.
Indeed, it appears that cybercriminals are still targeting important business data for their own personal gain. ScanSafe's recent Annual Global Threat Report indicated that organisations with the most valuable intellectual data are being targeted by malware at a greater rate than other companies.
It found that critical infrastructure such as energy, pharmaceutical and government assets are more than twice as likely to be attacked by cybercriminals than other bodies.
Mary Landesman, senior security researcher at ScanSafe, said that some believe cybercriminals are only concerned with stealing people's identities, but this is not the case. She described consumer credit card details as "child's play" in comparison to infrastructure and intellectual data from "sensitive verticals".
"The message is clear - cyberwar is already here. The web is the battlefield and the enterprise is on the frontlines," Ms Landesman added.
There are, of course, many firms that look to protect their IP as best as they can.
As Matthew Readman, an entrepreneur from the Cygnet Group, recently commented: "Having steadily built our business over the last few years, we discovered that IP was a top priority for us."
"We found that by grasping the basics of IP and carefully managing and protecting our innovations (creations), using the legal rights we all have - we were able to develop a strong brand that our customers now look for in the market we are in," Mr Readman said.
"For us, it was true that IP was not as complicated, time-consuming or costly as we feared," he added.
His comments came after a survey from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) showed that over two-thirds (70 per cent) of entrepreneurs from the north-west of the UK who have put measures in place to protect their IP said they had saved more than £1,000.
More than half (59 per cent) said protecting IP has helped grow their business or boosted their reputation. So it appears there are evident monetary gains to be enjoyed when it comes to keeping IP safe.
Sentor's work with Yell.com, which wanted to protect its database of UK business listings, highlighted why firms should keep their IP safe from screen scrapers and how they can try and prevent it from happening.
At the time of the initial deal, Nigel Ridgeon, head of analysis and information at Yell.com, explained: "Due to the depth and comprehensiveness of our data, we increasingly find ourselves a target for scrapers trying to download systematically significant amounts of data and we need to ensure that our detection and blocking systems are as sophisticated as possible."
Yell.com implemented Sentor's Automated Assessment Anti Scraping Surveillance Network to help deal with the problem.
One potential future problem with screen scraping and IP could surround the copying of news content. A recent report from Fair Syndication Consortium, which was founded by Attributor last year, showed that over a 30-day period, more than 75,000 unlicensed sites reused US newspaper content on the internet.
In addition, 112,000 near-exact copies of unlicensed articles were detected on these websites, perhaps indicating many were screen scraped. Among the top 1,000 sites reusing the most articles, blogs accounted for less than ten per cent of the total.
The report also found that ad networks from Google and Yahoo dominate the unlicensed monetisation of US newspaper content.