IT Security Rewind – Week of July 18, 2011


by Josh Arrington

As the summer heat continues to rise, it’s clear that news about the frequency of IT security breaches refuses to take a vacation. This week the founder of popular online news site Reddit was caught red-handed while security influencers stayed cool reporting on some real threats for the utilities and government industries. Here is our take on this week’s hottest IT security stories:

  • Reddit Founder Hacks into MIT and Gets Himself Caught — Computerworld’s Grant Gross provided us with details of the indictment of the co-founder of online news site Reddit. Aaron Swartz was charged with computer intrusion, fraud and data theft for allegedly stealing 4.8 million documents from an MIT network. If convicted, Swartz, who is also the founder of the political advocacy group Demand Progress, faces a possible 35 years in prison and fines of up to $1million.
  • Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid – We’ve all fallen for “doom-and-gloom-we’re-all-gonna-die” stories that make you want to stock your bomb shelter. CSO’s Bill Brenner typically takes these reports as B-S; this week however, he shared an interesting report from Brian Ross, “New Terror Report Warns of Insider Threat to Utilities” to which he says “the insider threat is real.” While Brenner is referring to physical security in this particular piece, given the numerous flaws and vulnerabilities reported in SCADA software over the past few months we can’t help but draw the connection to an IT security threat as well.
  • Hackers Infiltrate Computers at the German Federal Police and Customs Service – It’s one thing to hack into a system and get the heck out of there – but to stay in that system undetected for say, months, is a whole other ballgame. In what could be an incredibly devastating data loss for the German Federal Police and Customs Service – hackers reportedly gained access to federal police computers in September 2010 and were able steal information undetected for months. In addition, hackers were able to gain access to the German customs service and publish stolen files on the Internet. In the words of an anonymous security officer, “that is pretty much the worst thing that could happen.”

What other hot stories would you add to this list?

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