Friday, January 30, 2009

signs of the times

Things are bad all over. This week we heard that Caterpillar and some other global companies are laying off workers by the tens of thousands. The jobless rate has reached levels not seen since the early eighties, and it's expected to get worse in 2009 before things pick up and turn around.

That's not, of course, how most of us measure economic decline--our index is more anecdotal in nature. Yesterday I tried to buy lunch, only to be told that my bank card was invalid. No, not because I've run out of money, thank goodness. Apparently someone tried to make some purchases using my card number, one of them rather substantial. Fortunately, they were declined, and the bank put a block on my card number. I'm not sure whether it was an honest mistake or someone just trying out my card number with different PINS until they got the correct one, but it made me think immediately of stories like this one, in which an LA consumer columnist had his money and plastic stolen out of his gym locker by someone who immediately went on a spending spree and bought himself a nice new Macbook, among other things. As people get more desperate--either to meet basic needs or to feed a mass consumption addiction acquired in the last couple of decades--you can bet that there will be more ID fraud than ever. And most of it won't even involve physical theft.

Another sign of the times: more insider threats. From Wired:
A logic bomb allegedly planted by a former engineer at mortgage finance company Fannie Mae last fall would have decimated all 4,000 servers at the company, causing millions of dollars in damage and shutting down Fannie Mae for a least a week, prosecutors say.

Unix engineer Rajendrasinh Babubha Makwana, 35, was indicted (.pdf) Tuesday in federal court in Maryland on a single count of computer sabotage for allegedly writing and planting the malicious code on Oct. 24, the day he was fired from his job. The malware had been set to detonate at 9:00 a.m. on Jan. 31, but was instead discovered by another engineer five days after it was planted, according to court records.
Let's set aside the utterly moronic, self-sabotaging nature of this kind of attack. You're pissed off because you think your company screwed you by firing you? You think you're going to show them a thing or two? Well, Mr. Makwana, you just guaranteed that you'll never work in IT ever again, ANYWHERE. Duh.

But R. B. Makwana is a statistic, or will be soon. Insider threats are on the rise, and as the recession deepens, organizations will be at risk not only from disgruntled employees like Mr. Makwana, but also from employees who are dealing with increasing personal debt and are desperate for cash. Obama's administration just put out their cyber security agenda, a major aspect of which will be battling cyber-espionage. If it were a big deal back in August, when this agenda was actually formulated by Obama's campaign, it's an even bigger deal now.

No comments:

Post a Comment