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Risk

3/31/2011
06:34 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
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NSA Investigating Nasdaq Hack

Last month when we covered the attack on the Nasdaq's Directors Desk collaboration platform, we said the incident posed plenty of questions, while the Nasdaq proffered (at least publicly) few answers. It seems the National Security Agency agrees.

Last month when we covered the attack on the Nasdaq's Directors Desk collaboration platform, we said the incident posed plenty of questions, while the Nasdaq proffered (at least publicly) few answers. It seems the National Security Agency agrees.According to A Bloomberg news report, the NSA is now involved in the probe into the attack on the Nasdaq systems that occurred last October. Bloomberg quoted an unnamed source saying the NSA got involved after evidence surfaced that the attack was more involved that was first disclosed.

After covered hundreds of breaches over the years, I can tell you that they often are.

And the involvement of the NSA into such matters is very, very rare. The Bloomberg story, U.S. Spy Agency Is Said to Investigate Nasdaq Hacker Attack, sheds some light into why the NSA is involved:

"By bringing in the NSA, that means they think they're either dealing with a state-sponsored attack or it's an extraordinarily capable criminal organization," said Joel Brenner, former head of U.S. counterintelligence in the Bush and Obama administrations, now at the Washington offices of the law firm Cooley LLP.

The NSA's most important contribution to the probe may be its ability to unscramble encrypted messages that hackers use to extract data, said Ira Winkler, a former NSA analyst and chief security strategist at Technodyne LLC, a Wayne, New Jersey-based information technology consulting firm.

At the time of our post, Nasdaq Hack. Lots of Questions. Few Answers, Nasdaq claimed that its trading platform was not affected, and they made in clear in a statement that no Directors Desk customer information was accessed when the company determined:

that our web facing application Directors Desk was potentially affected. We immediately conducted an investigation, which included outside forensic firms and U.S. federal law enforcement. The files were immediately removed and at this point there is no evidence that any Directors Desk customer information was accessed or acquired by hackers.

Now, with the NSA in the investigation, it's looking less likely that the attackers didn't manage to get away with some form of valuable information.

for security and technology observations throughout the day, find me on Twitter as @georgevhulme.

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