Friday, April 23, 2010

Russian Cyber-Thief Case Illustrates Security Risks For U.S. Corporations

Stew Magnuson writes in National Defense Magazine:

“Vladimir” came from a good family in Moscow. His parents both had advanced degrees and he was an academic star in high school.

He studied finance at his university and was equally well versed in computer science and physics. Smart, well spoken and personable, he could have been anything he wanted to be. But he chose to become a cyberthief.

Vladimir, an alias, preyed on wealthy Americans, said Mark Danner, a former U.S. intelligence officer, who is now a consulting manager for public safety and homeland security at NSI, a Washington, D.C.-based consulting group. Danner interviewed Vladimir in prison in an effort to put a face on the hacking menace.

“When it comes to the criminal world, the problem is that the faces of these perpetrators are really unknown,” he said at the Gov Sec conference in Washington, D.C. “They’re unknown in public and expert circles.”

While the federal government and Congress are making a push to toughen up the nation’s defenses in cyberspace, experts note that most of the vulnerabilities that thieves and spies are exploiting through the Internet are in the private sector, where state actors, criminal syndicates and hackers like Vladimir steal money and secrets with alarming regularity. Defense Department officials have warned companies doing business with the Pentagon to protect their data from foreign hackers.

A joint report from the Internet Security Alliance and the American National Standards Institute said chief financial officers and company leaders don’t appreciate the seriousness of the problem. Many simply do not want to invest the money needed to strengthen defenses against cybercrimes, despite government estimates that U.S. companies lost to network intrusions some $1 trillion in intellectual property from 2008 to 2009.

More here.

Props: Terry Zink


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