Monday, November 09, 2009

Cyber Security - the challenge never ends

Last night, I watched the segment on "60 Minutes" that cast light on just how much vigilance is required to protect electronic sytems designed to operate critical financial, social and defense systems in this country (and elsewhere). It was sobering to watch, to say the least.

News lives in an echo chamber, it seems. An article from last week's PCWorld dwelled on the proliferation of cyber theft into the world of small and medium-sized businesses and organizations.

The bulk of the article focuses on the FBI's awareness of the growth in ACH (automated clearinghouse) fraud, where thieves manipulate online banking systems to create false payees, whereby significant sums can be then transferred out of the country by (sometimes unwitting) online payroll clearinghouse operations.

Vigilance, again, is the key word here. Many of these scenarios unfold by an employee unknowingly triggering malware embedded into an email (the article cites the example of Microsoft sending out notices to upgrade software), and are exacerbated by incomplete or out-of-date online protection in place at smaller financial institutions.

Folks, be careful out there. Train employees to be leery of suspicious emails like this, and demand reassurance from your financial institution that they have systems in place that can spot unusual occurrences like this (and not simply & blindly pay out sums to fictitious individuals). As a line in this article says, "Once the money is out of the country, it is gone for good."

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