31 July 2009

Red Flags Rule: Reputations at Stake...

The "Red Flags Rule" is on the back burner in the United States until November 1, 2009. The Federal Trade Commission has delayed the compliance mandate again. Are you ready? Do you have to comply?

The Federal Trade Commission has postponed a deadline for many of the nation's businesses -- including banks, public utilities and health-care providers -- to comply with a controversial identity-theft prevention program.

The program, called the "Red Flags Rule," was to take effect Aug. 1 but will now be delayed until Nov. 1. The program is aimed at preventing the loss of billions of dollars as the result of the theft of consumer and taxpayer personal information. Under the regulation, companies and institutions would be required to establish a way to identify potential threats at the businesses, find ways of detecting such threats and install measures to prevent them. Employees would also have to be educated about the programs.

A survey commissioned in 2006 by the FTC revealed that more than nine million Americans have their identities stolen each year at a total estimated loss of $15.6 billion.

The nation is under a barrage of attacks from adversaries that lie in the shadows such as "Conficker" and other botnets or malware and business still delays the compliance measures asked of them. One only has to look deeply into the latest 2009 report from CISCO to better understand the state of risk from "Transnational Economic Crime":

Report Highlights

  • Criminals are exploiting traditional vulnerabilities because they believe security experts and individual users are paying little attention to these types of threats.
  • Compromising legitimate websites for the purpose of propagating malware remains a highly effective technique for criminals.
  • Web 2.0 applications, prized for their ease of use and flexibility, have become lures for criminals.
  • Criminals are now targeting online banking customers using well-designed, localized text message scams that leave virtually no trail in their wake.
  • The Obama administration has made strengthening U.S. cybersecurity a high priority, and plans to meet threats by using technological innovations and partnering with the private sector. Other countries are similarly increasing efforts to enhance cybersecurity and prevent cybercrime.
  • Compared to 2008, the number of vulnerabilities and discrete threats has not risen as quickly. According to research by Cisco, this is a clear sign that the security community is succeeding in making it more difficult for attacks to take root and grow.

Operational Risks are vast and the technology landscape is not getting more narrow, it is expanding. Cloud Computing is now the latest attempt to get cost savings and to make the IT puzzle less of an asset management nightmare. If you think that you understand it and where it's heading, think again. One only has to visit "Black Hat" and the briefings to get a better sense of what the true risks are going to be if not already. This one caught our eye and for good reason:

Nitesh Dhanjani

Psychotronica: Exposure, Control, and Deceit

This talk will expose how voluntary and public information from new communication paradigms such as social networking applications can enable you to remotely capture private information about targeted individuals.

Topics of discussion will include:

Hacking the Psyche: Remote behavior analysis that can be used to construct personality profiles to predict current and future psychological states of targeted individuals, including discussions on how emotional and subconscious states can be discovered even before the target is consciously aware.

Techniques on how individuals may be remotely influenced by messaging tactics, and how criminal groups and governments may use this capability, including a case study of Twitter and the recent terror attacks in Bombay.

Reconnaissance and pillage of private information, including critical data that the victim may not be aware of revealing, and that which may be impossible to protect by definition.

The goal of this presentation is to raise consciousness on how the new paradigms of social communication bring with it real risks as well as marketing and economic advantages.

The risks to "Social Networking" Twitter-based consumers and the extended digital enterprise are vast. The CISO's and internal audit teams have been having their own internal battle for years and will soon realize that once and for all, they are on the same side of the Cyberspace war. The risks to the organization may come in the form of a major business disruption, denial of service (DOS) or even worse, a significant loss of consumer Personal Identifiable Information (PII). Even if you are considered PCI compliant just as "Network Solutions" was, the loss of reputation can be significant:

Hackers have broken into Web servers owned by domain registrar and hosting provider Network Solutions, planting rogue code that resulted in the compromise of more than 573,000 debit and credit card accounts over the past three months, Security Fix has learned.

Herndon, Va. based Network Solutions discovered in early June that attackers had hacked into Web servers the company uses to provide e-commerce services - a package that includes everything from Web hosting to payment processing -- to at least 4,343 customers, mostly mom-and-pop online stores. The malicious code left behind by the attackers allowed them to intercept personal and financial information for customers who purchased from those stores, Network Solutions spokeswoman Susan Wade said.

The "Red Flag" may have turned to a "White Flag" as you surrender to the lawyers and the federal oversight.

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