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April 03, 2016

The US Scores Against Hackers but its Companies Lose

“Score one for the US government in its fight against hackers,” says an article on the well-respected tech site CNET owned by CBS. Hackers, who were employed by two Iran-based computer companies, ITSecTeam and Mersad Company, performed the work on behalf of the Iranian government, according to the Justice Department. The hackers performed denial-of-service attacks, which are meant to deny user access to computing resources and render the systems useless, the agency said.

Their targets were US financial companies as well as a dam located in Westchester County - something we wrote about this past December. Since then, information has come out that the timing of the dam breach was fortunate as hackers weren’t able to cause any damage. Had the hack happened at another time, it could have caused life-threatening chaos.

The hackers have all been indicted by the US government but since they are located in Iran, they are virtually untouchable. The government actually said they may nab one or more of these people if they vacation, outside their country.

In other words, fairly sophisticated hackers who figured out how to attack some of the most heavily guarded areas of the US economy – Wall Street and our national infrastructure, might happen to be stupid enough to leave their country – knowing full well they could potentially be apprehended if they do so. In order for the feds to be victorious, these vacation plans would have to somehow flag US intelligence who would then have to work to extradite these criminals.

John Q. Public generally considers justice to be served when a criminal is apprehended and serves a prison sentence. In other words, they get punished. In this case, the government is telling the world, they figured out who attacked the US but nothing can really be done about it – unless the hackers happen to be lured away by a Club Med commercial.

Yet, the media and government is describing this situation as a win which seems counterintuitive to many – especially those who were affected by the attacks.

What these means to US corporations – indeed corporations all over the world, is that they are virtually on their own. Even when hackers are identified, they often cannot be prosecuted and can continue to hack without fear.

So a win for the US government in the war on cybercrime is really a loss for US corporations. It’s exactly why every company needs to work with experts on cybersecurity to implement training, penetration testing, network anomaly detection to start. This threat focused on financial and infrastructure companies in New York and Fairfield County, CT – Stamford, Greenwich, etc. These areas of the country are still prime targets and CXOs and company owners owe it to their shareholders to find reputable MSPs or IT service providers to help them minimize the risk posed by global cybercriminals.

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