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1/11/2005
04:22 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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Machine Wars

Cybercrime used to be personal. Today, it's professional and pre-programmed.

Cybercrime used to be personal. Today, it's professional and pre-programmed.Recall computer security expert Tsutomu Shimomura's effort to track hacker Kevin Mitnick in 1994. There was a personal rivalry fit for detective fiction.

But these days, as I discovered researching InformationWeek's upcoming security feature Machine Wars, hacking is automated.

There are many areas where expertise can be automated and made available through software. In medicine, we now have expert systems that automate aspects of the diagnostic process. So perhaps it's no surprise that hackers are releasing tools that automate attacks. But the advent of crime bots also owes something to emergence of organized gangs of cyber criminals. Experts indicate that such groups are increasingly funding the development of worms, viruses, and the like.

The arrest of members of a Russian cyber crime gang last July by the UK's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit and its counterparts in the Russian Federation represents an example of this trend. The gang is believed to have extorted hundreds of thousands of pounds from online bookmakers after crippling their servers with a denial of service attack to demonstrate the dangers of failing to pay protection money.

According to a spokesperson for the UK NHTCU, "The denial of service attacks were launched from compromised machines (ie: zombies) via a botnet."

Like John Henry in his storied race against a steam drill, IT admins are killing themselves trying to keep up.

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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.