Monday, August 01, 2005

The Sniffer vs. the Cybercrooks - New York Times

Continuing its tradition of great reporting in the area of privacy and security, the Sunday New York Times has a feature on Mark Seiden. Seiden makes his living providing businesses with the straight goods on how vulnerable their information is to being compromised.

The Sniffer vs. the Cybercrooks - New York Times

"... THE investment bank, despite billions in annual revenue and the small squadron of former police, military and security officers on its payroll, was no match for Mark Seiden.

"Tell me the things you most want to keep secret," Mr. Seiden challenged a top executive at the bank a few years back. The executive listed two. One involved the true identities of clients negotiating deals so hush-hush that even people inside the bank referred to them by using a code name. The other was the financial details of those mergers and acquisitions.

A week later, Mr. Seiden again sat in this man's office in Manhattan, in possession of both supposedly guarded secrets. As a bonus, he also had in hand a pilfered batch of keys that would give him entry into this company's offices scattered around the globe, photocopies of the floor plans for each office and a suitcase stuffed with backup tapes that would have allowed him to replicate all the files on the bank's computer system.

"Basically, that all came from working nights over a single weekend," he said with a canary-eating smile that seemed equal parts mischief and pride. Mr. Seiden is what some people inside the security industry call a "sniffer": someone who is paid to twist doorknobs for a living, to see which are safely locked and which are left dangerously unsecured. Clients sometimes hire Mr. Seiden, a former computer programmer, to buttress the security systems that protect their computers and other precious corporate assets. But primarily, large corporations turn to him to test the vulnerability of their networks...."

The article is accompanied by a very interesting 22 minute interview with Seiden. Download it here

No comments: