Experts say banks and retailers are doing all they can to control concerns in the aftermath of the Epsilon e-mail breach, and a well-crafted e-mail fooled an RSA employee into opening a phish that led to a sophisticated attack on the company's information systems.
Most furloughed federal employees would have had to turn in their BlackBerries and other mobile devices in a U.S. government shutdown. Just as well, using the technology could have resulted in an employee landing in the slammer.
It's serious news that RSA's SecurID solution has been the target of an advanced persistent threat. But "It's not a game-changer," says Stephen Northcutt, CEO of SANS Institute. "Anybody who says it is [a game-changer] is an alarmist."
When it comes to e-marketing and the reliance on third parties such as Epsilon, Nicolas Christin of Carnegie Mellon University says banks and merchants should "come clean" about the information they share with outside entities.
Communicating with customers about the incident and warning them not to click links in phishing e-mails are all these impacted institutions and companies really can do, says Jeremiah Grossman, chief technology officer of WhiteHat Security.
Privacy Attorney Lisa Sotto says the Epsilon e-mail breach is a warning about the state of data security employed by some third-party service providers. Strong contracts related to security practices must be the norm, not the exception.
"Persistent" is the operative word about the advanced persistent threat that has struck RSA and its SecurID products. "If the bad guys out there want to get to someone ... they can," says David Navetta of the Information Law Group.
"It is the biggest breach we have ever seen; and to say no financial information has been stolen is, well, understating the massive breach and concern," says Neil Schwartzman, founder and chief security specialist at CASL Consulting.
"When it comes to APTs ... you don't bother to just simply hack the organization and its infrastructure; you focus much more of your attention on hacking the employees," says Uri Rivner, head of new technologies, identity protection and verification at RSA.