Companies face constant threats from former employees, contractors

A new report released by Cisco indicates IT experts who have been laid off and cannot find new employment may turn to crime using the internet to support themselves.

In addition of targeting random people, it's possible disgruntled employees may also target former employers, Cisco warns, noting insiders familiar with security flaws at a former employer are especially dangerous.

Any company that uses short-term IT workers or contracted workers should pay close attention and "be particularly vigilant about the level and term of their access to sensitive data," Cisco said in its report.

The FBI arrested a former employee of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, an information technology analyst, who was caught receiving loans under stolen identities.  Authorities discovered a flash drive that had loan applications totaling $73,000.

Companies are becoming increasingly concerned about former employees who leave the company with sensitive information, and possibly know how to continue accessing protected files and information from outside the company.

There also is a threat of botmasters -- normally tech-savvy criminals -- who spams millions of people.  Cisco spoke with one botmaster who said he knows someone able to make $5-10K weekly simply by phishing bank accounts from unsuspecting people.

IT experts must find ways to allow employees and contractors to have access to sensitive material, but ensure they are unable to take information away from the office.  Some companies ban employees from using USB keys from outside the office, or from plugging an MP3 player into a computer while at work.

Another noticeable problem is that laptops and other portable devices are being stolen, lost, or sold while containing sensitive material.  The U.S. military recently recovered an MP3 player from someone who discovered troop deployments and other government information on his music player he purchased from a local secondhand store.

"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton
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