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Private Briefingwith WILLIAM PATALON III, Executive Editor
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There's a story out of England I heard recently that's one of the most ironic tales of how developments in technology - cybersecurity, in particular - need to be taken more seriously.
The story started in 2009, when 18-year-old Nicholas Webber was arrested for using fraudulent credit card details to pay for a penthouse suite at the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane, Central London.
When police examined Webber's laptop, they found details of 100,000 stolen credit cards linked to losses totaling 16.2 million pounds ($24.6 million)
Turns out Webber ran the Internet crime forum GhostMarket. The site allowed hackers to meet up virtually, create computer viruses and share stolen IDs and private credit card data.
In 2011 Webber was sentenced to five years in prison. Once in prison Webber was allowed to participate in a computer class.
And earlier this year, he hacked the prison computer system.
The prison claimed that the network was closed and no personal information was exposed - although U.K.'s Daily Mail reported that the crime caused a "major panic."
The fact is, Webber is a cybercriminal; allowing him to enroll in a computer class was like giving matches to an arsonist.
And if cybersecurity and information security (infosec) measures aren't protected against, there are going to be more Webbers hacking their way to very private and vulnerable information.
The United States is getting the hint. U.S. President Barack Obama mentioned cyberattacks in his State of the Union speech as posing "real threats" to our security and economy. Corporations are starting to learn the hard way that compromised data is very expensive to clean up - much more expensive than protecting it in the first place.
One of the best places to look for info on the new era of cybersecurity and infosec is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) - you know, the folks who pretty much invented the Internet.
Two big projects they're working on in this space are Active Authentication (AA) and an Integrated Cyber Analysis System (ICAS). The former is an effort to authenticate users on secure systems without the need for passwords. The latter is an effort to make system information readily useful for attack forensics and tactical cyber defense in real time.
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