Companies Fight Endless War Against Computer Attacks
The recent computer attacks on the mighty Google left every corporate network in the world looking a little less safe.
Google’s confrontation with China — over government censorship in general and specific attacks on its systems — is an exceptional case, of course, extending to human rights and international politics as well as high-tech spying. But the intrusion into Google’s computers and related attacks from within China on some 30 other companies point to the rising sophistication of such assaults and the vulnerability of even the best defenses, security experts say.
“The Google case shines a bright light on what can be done in terms of spying and getting into corporate networks,” said Edward M. Stroz, a former high-tech crime agent with the F.B.I.who now heads a computer security investigation firm in New York.
Computer security is an ever-escalating competition between so-called black-hat attackers and white-hat defenders. One of the attackers’ main tools is malicious software, known as malware, which has steadily evolved in recent years. Malware was once mainly viruses and worms, digital pests that gummed up and sometimes damaged personal computers and networks.
Malware today, however, is likely to be more subtle and selective, nesting inside corporate networks. And it can be a tool for industrial espionage, transmitting digital copies of trade secrets, customer lists, future plans and contracts.