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“I know it’s true because I got it from the Internet!” – Reuters Hacked by Pro-Assad Group to publich Propaganda August 6, 2012

Posted by Chris Mark in competitive intelligence, cyberespionage, cybersecurity.
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Reuters acknowledged that on August 3rd, their blogging platform was hacked and a false, pro-Assad post was published.  “Reuters.com was a target of a hack on Friday,” the company said in a statement. “Our blogging platform was compromised and fabricated blog posts were falsely attributed to several Reuters journalists.”  Additionally, Reuters Twitter account was hacked and used to tweat several false, and pro-Assad messages.   While this type of propaganda has been going on for as long as news has been published, the ease of which a person or group can publish on the Internet coupled with the speed at which it can spread creates new challenges for companies.  Imagine a situation in which a company is hacked and fraudulent financial data is released before an IPO?  As the US Presidential elections ramp up, we are seeing increasing numbers of stories and claims that can only be categorized as propaganda.  In fact, unless you clicked on the links above and checked the underlying domains, you have no real confidence that this particular post is true, or accurate. ;)

It is important for companies to monitor the news that is being distributed about the organization.  I have worked at an organization where we found someone who had intentionally published misleading and malicious information in an attempt to promote a competitor.  While it did not require hacking a news system to publish the story, it is yet another area that exposes companies to unnecessary risk.

“CyberSecurity Cold War” – Spending ourselves into Oblivion May 8, 2012

Posted by Chris Mark in competitive intelligence, cybersecurity, Industry News.
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A recent report published by Bloomberg outlines the challenges of securing critical infrastructure against cyber attacks in the 21st century.  According to a survey of 172 companies in six industries, current security measures are only stopping 69% of cyber attacks against banks, utility companies and other ‘critical assets’.   To stop 95% of attacks, companies would need to spend 7 times more than they are today.  This would increase spending from $5.3 billion$30.8 million average) to $46.6 ($270.9 million average).  This, it is estimated, would still only prevent 95% of attacks.  While not a consistent increase, it could be calculated that for every 1% increase in protection, another $1.588 billion would need to be spent by the group.  This amounts to roughly $9.23 million per company…for each 1% increase in protection.  If this is indeed accurate, it is clear that the current perspectives and strategy of cybersecurity is fatally flawed.

During the 1980’s the US and Soviet Union were fully engaged in a Cold War.   With the election of President Ronald Reagan, the US’s strategy changed.  A major component of Reagan’s strategy was to exploit the inherent inefficiencies in the Soviet Union’s command economy. By increasing spending, and forcing the Soviets to match spending on an arms race, the theory held that the SU could be bankrupted.  This has become known as the “Reagan Victory School” and while not completely responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union, can be credited as hastening their demise. As outlined in a Stanford piece: “A central instrument for putting pressure on the Soviet Union was Reagan’s massive defense build-up, which raised defense spending from $134 billion in 1980 to $253 billion in 1989. This raised American defense spending to 7 percent of GDP, dramatically increasing the federal deficit. Yet in its efforts to keep up with the American defense build-up, the Soviet Union was compelled in the first half of the 1980s to raise the share of its defense spending from 22 percent to 27 percent of GDP, while it froze the production of civilian goods at 1980 levels.” (more…)

Competitive Intelligence 201; Locating & Protecting Your Web IP May 5, 2012

Posted by Chris Mark in competitive intelligence, Industry News, Piracy & Maritime Security, Risk & Risk Management.
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While some may live by the adage that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, in business it can be one of the greatest aggravations.    Companies spend huge amounts of time, money, and effort to create, and manage their websites.  Often, websites are the centerpiece of their marketing efforts.  When another company simply copies content, it is frustrating at best and illegal at worst.  Using basic Google searches we can identify if someone is using your content.  Simply copy an entire phrase (more than about 10 words becomes clumsy) and place in quotes into a Google Search.

As an example, I used the phrase from ColdStream Defense Group’s webpage titled “Risk Management Services“: “consultants specialize in the prevention and resolution of kidnaps-for-ransom, extortions, malicious product tampering and client risk” The results from Google, are below.  As we can see another company’s website shows identical content for the search term and an identical page name.

While a single instance of language could simply be a coincidence, it is always advisable to conduct several searches of unique phrases.

Next, we then Googled a uniquely structured phrase: “In most cases, upon receiving word of an incident,.”  Again, the searches showed identical phrasing on two different websites. (more…)


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