November 15, 2010

The Great Cyberheist

The biggest this and the bestest that is mostly a waste of time, but once a year it is good to see just how big some of the numbers are. Jim sent in this NY Times article by James Verini, just to show that breaches cost serious money:

According to Attorney General Eric Holder, who last month presented an award to Peretti and the prosecutors and Secret Service agents who brought Gonzalez down, Gonzalez cost TJX, Heartland and the other victimized companies more than $400 million in reimbursements and forensic and legal fees. At last count, at least 500 banks were affected by the Heartland breach.

$400 million costs caused by one small group, or one attacker, and those costs aren't complete or known as yet.

But the extent of the damage is unknown. “The majority of the stuff I hacked was never brought into public light,” Toey told me. One of the imprisoned hackers told me there “were major chains and big hacks that would dwarf TJX. I’m just waiting for them to indict us for the rest of them.” Online fraud is still rampant in the United States, but statistics show a major drop in 2009 from previous years, when Gonzalez was active.

What to make of this? It may well be that one single guy / group caused the lion's share of the breach fraud we saw in the wake of SB1386. Do we breathe a sigh of relief that he's gone for good (20 years?) ... or do we wonder at the basic nature of the attacks used to get in?

The attacks were fairly well described in the article. They were all through apparently PCE compliance-complete institutions. Lots of them. They start from the ho-hum of breaching the secured perimeter through WiFi, right up to the slightly yawnsome SQL injection.

Here's my bet: the ease of this overall approach and the lack of real good security alternatives (firewalls & SSL, anyone?) means there will be a pause, and then the professionals will move in. And they won't be caught, because they'll move faster than the Feds. Gonzalez was a static target, he wasn't leaving the country. The new professionals will know their OODA.

Read the entire article, and make your own bet :)

Posted by iang at November 15, 2010 04:51 AM | TrackBack
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