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Putting Up a Cyber-Defense

Boot Camp feature for Thursday, July 4, 2002

Putting up a cyber-defense. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. It is the scenario that FBI special agent Harold Hendershot fears most. A September 11th type attack... .coupled with electronic terrorism... .aimed at disrupting the nation's computer and telephone infrastructure. Hendershot heads the counterintelligence computer intrusion unit at the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center. In the next war, he cautions, will begin in cyberspace...

"We will do everything to take out the infrastructures that we can electronically, before we start dropping the first explosive device. And the same is going to happen to us. We are vulnerable."

Hendershot, speaking before a crowd of IT professionals in New York last week, asked for more corporate cooperation in improving computer security. The Internet, he says, has created a society without borders....increasing vulnerability. Threats of all kinds, Hendershot points out, can come from anywhere...

"There's been a case that's been ongoing for several years involving Russian organized crime, involving intrusions into e-commerce Web sites where they steal the credit card information. Let me give you a clue. By the time if you're an e-commerce Web site that has been hacked and your credit card information has been stolen by this group, by the time they contact you they've already committed credit card fraud with that information. The last part of their stage is to extort you, telling you they're going to post it on the Internet to show everybody how vulernable you are."

The FBI says there have been a handful of arrests... and the investigation continues. But what is more frightening still, is the potential for attacks by those who want more than money. The solution... says Hendershot... is for the government and private sector to work together... sharing information. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.