Companies and government branches still unsure how to battle cyber attacks... from within the US, and from foreign attackers with malicious intent

During DefCon in Las Vegas every year, hackers and security experts look to expose the real-world vulnerabilities that plague financial institutions and other major companies.  This year was more of the same, as the technology behind stealing personal information evolves just as fast, if not faster, than current security measures.

A two-day contest during DefCon led to embarrassing incidents related to employees at some large corporations turning over information they should have kept private.  In one such incident, a participant was able to convince an employee he was a part of the IT department, and she began to explain her PC and how it was configured.  

The provided information from the worker would make it even easier for a criminal to compromise the PC -- and possibly enter the company's network -- just because of a few minutes of carelessness over the phone.

According to event organizers, software giant Oracle turned over the most amount of information, while AT&T, Apple, Delta Air, Symantec, and other companies were also put to the test.
This is an important lesson for U.S. companies trying to better improve their networks from foreign attacks, as the number of cyber attacks continues to increase.  In addition to increasing cyber security efforts, these companies must be vigilant about what their employees are doing when connected to the Internet.  

Even the "DefCon Kids village," aimed at helping younger children learn how to hack and manipulate code, offers a glimpse into how the next generation is being prepared.  For criminal organizations originating in Eastern Europe and China, this type of effort has already been well under way for a few years now -- and governments and companies across the world have noticed.

Although some outsiders criticized this new direction, it's this new generation that could help close the cyber gap, security experts counter.  Software makers are now forced to release products that are functional and secure from cyber intrusion, even though this has proven to be relatively difficult as of late.

Repeated cyber attacks against South Korea -- many of the attacks originating from China and North Korea -- have led to a new set of security standards that Korean companies must abide by.

So-called "social engineering" also is another problem, in which criminals will phish for information via e-mail and social networking sites.  After impersonating a friend or trusted colleague, criminals will trick users into downloading a virus or hijacked website.  

The battle between cyber criminals and companies/governments trying to protect information will never end.  Independent criminals and organized cyber groups are able to have extremely easy access to confidential information they can use and sell to U.S. rivals.

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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