Risk
3/17/2005
12:30 PM
Commentary
Commentary
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Giving Aid To The Enemy

Cybercrooks don't need any extra help, but they're getting it from their victims. Look what happened at the Internal Revenue Service.

Cybercrooks don't need any extra help, but they're getting it from their victims. Look what happened at the Internal Revenue Service.More than one-third of IRS workers and their bosses freely gave up their computer logins to callers who identified themselves as computer technicians trying to fix a network problem. In reality, they were inspectors from the Office of the Inspector General for Tax Administration at the Treasury Department.

Auditors recently contacted 100 IRS employees, asking them to provide their network logins and temporarily changed their passwords. Thirty-five workers and managers gave them up. That's still better than the 71 IRS staffers who volunteered their passwords during a similar test four years ago.

According to an AP report, some agency employees said they weren't aware of the hacking technique and never suspected foul play. They just wanted to help a computer technician. A few workers were suspicious because they couldn't find the caller's name in the IRS global employ directory, but they surrendered their passwords anyway. Others wavered, but got a say-so from their bosses to cooperate.

Two days after the test, the IRS issued an E-mail alert about the hacking technique and commanded workers to notify security officials if they get such calls.

Now, if only those IRS employees can be as trusting with my tax return as they were with the faux technicians when they gave up their passwords.

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The cybersecurity profession struggles to retain women (figures range from 10 to 20 percent). It's particularly worrisome for an industry with a rapidly growing number of vacant positions.

So why does the shortage of women continue to be worse in security than in other IT sectors? How can men in infosec be better allies for women; and how can women be better allies for one another? What is the industry doing to fix the problem -- what's working, and what isn't?

Is this really a problem at all? Are the low numbers simply an indication that women do not want to be in cybersecurity, and is it possible that more women will never want to be in cybersecurity? How many women would we need to see in the industry to declare success?

Join Dark Reading senior editor Sara Peters and guests Angela Knox of Cloudmark, Barrett Sellers of Arbor Networks, Regina Wallace-Jones of Facebook, Steve Christey Coley of MITRE, and Chris Roosenraad of M3AAWG on Wednesday, July 13 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to discuss all this and more.