Emerging Threats in Data BreachesHeartland-Style Breaches Change the Meaning of a Large-Scale Data Breach Ten years ago, the Department of Justice was prosecuting mischief-makers for defacing web pages. Today, federal prosecutors are targeting international crime rings behind such high-profile hacks as retailer TJX, which exposed tens of million of consumers' credit accounts.
"We've gone from card farms to card resellers to international hackers," says Kimberly Kiefer Peretti, senior counsel in the department's computer crime section.
Peretti along with her computer crime section colleague Howard Cox presented "Emerging Threats in Data Breaches" at the RSA Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday. Among their key topics:
The most popular types of data breaches won't surprise anyone:
The difference today, Cox says, is "We have to be equally as good at social engineering to penetrate these groups."
There are some key nuances in modern-day breaches, Cox and Peretti say. Among them:
Profiles of Criminals
Despite heightened fears of the insider threat in the current recession, Cox says the top hackers are overseas - many of them Russian-speaking. Today's best criminals are young, mobile, they learn while they earn, and they're quite willing to follow the money. "They look for the most vulnerable victims," Cox says.
To prevent attacks, Cox recommends that organizations take these steps:
Given the proliferation of criminals outside the U.S., the Justice Department is challenged to get cooperation from international law enforcement agencies. But - as evidenced by last year's TJX-related arrests - the partnerships are developing. "It's not perfect yet," Peretti says, "but seven years ago it would have been unheard of to [cooperate] as we do now."