Computer Crime Problems Research Center

By Pamela Griner


Riad Sleit called his Tampa and Sarasota staffs together following the events of Sept. 11 and urged the 58 digital imaging systems and technical consulting employees to get back to business.

"If we sit here and feel sorry for ourselves we play into the hands of the people who did this," Sleit, branch general manager for Savin Corp., a Ricoh Co. Ltd. firm, recalls telling the staff. "We have to go out there and drive business as usual. That's the least we owe this country."

Sleit, whose company is working with the White House and FBI on security projects, recently participated in a Tampa "IT Global CyberCrime" seminar, sponsored in August by the World Trade Center Tampa Bay, Savin, iNet Security LLC, Quantum Technology Services Inc., the Tampa Port Authority and the FBI.

Sleit showcased Savin's SecureFax Tempest Laser Secure Facsimile, designed to stop fax machine intrusion, a cybercrime that security experts see growing. Savin also features an office-in-a-box data scanning and portable document file product called the DocuLex PDF: Capture & eCabinet and a Type 1045 Removable Hard Disk Drive.

The World Trade Center Tampa Bay organized the event because cybercrime poses the next big terrorist threat, said Ken Parker, president of the World Trade Center Tampa Bay.

"I'm afraid that's the next big blow that's going to hit, cybercrime into our banks and into our businesses," he said.

The seminar showed the vulnerability of businesses to cyberattacks and offered proactive prevention tips.

Attendees received results from the 2002 "Computer Crime and Security" survey, based on responses from more than 500 security officials in U.S. corporations, government agencies, financial institutions, medical institutions and universities.

A report based on the survey by the Computer Security Institute in San Francisco and called "Cyber Crime Bleeds U.S. Corporations" showed that:

Some 90 percent of respondents detected computer security breaches within the last 12 months.

Among 44 percent of the respondents, financial losses totaling more than $455 million were reported involving 223 corporations and government agencies.

Russell Hayes serves as one of the Tampa-based FBI special agents assigned to cybercrime. He also spends time at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., and the FBI Academy training center in Quantico, Va.

The FBI, in response to information and economic infrastructure system attacks, has established the National Infrastructure Protection Center at FBI headquarters.

Tampa Bay area businesses have been attacked by employees writing malicious computer code that affected computers and by former employees who have damaged equipment and networks, Hayes said.

Hayes advised paying attention to basic security items: disabling unused services on servers; applying all current software patches and product upgrades; and filtering all unneeded and unwanted network traffic.

"As with anything, training is paramount," he said. "Organizations have to ensure all their computer users are aware of the dangers of attaching to a public network like the Internet, and they (users) follow policies and procedures of the organization that they work for."

A "Post-9/11 Gut Check" section is included in the "Cyber Crime Bleeds" report.

Americans woke up to security challenges, but it's difficult to see the range of cyberthreats in a physical environment where the possibility of a jetliner crashing into a nuclear reactor is seen as a serious issue, the report states.

The report urges readers to recall the horror of buildings collapsing and suddenly ending thousands of lives.

"Imagine what the psychological impact would have been if those images had been the last ones you saw on your TV screen because of an infrastructure attack on the telecommunications network," the report says.

Cyber Crime also asks readers to imagine what would have happened if the physical and property violence acts were followed by attacks on traffic control systems, power grids or financial markets.

"Throwing money away" is how Cyber Crime describes corporations and organizations that don't attend to vital information security issues.

Meanwhile, Savin has seen a definite business increase since Sept. 11, Sleit said.

"Several thousand units" is how he described Bay area scanning, archive storage and retrieval product sales.

Savin was primed to respond to stunned business owners and operators who watched in person, on television and via the Internet as thousands of paper files and computer records were destroyed, Sleit said.

In addition to providing print and copy on demand products, the Ricoh parent company already had invested in research and development to address data security needs, he said.

"Sept. 11 definitely increased awareness of how vulnerable we are," Sleit said. "Yes, it could happen to us. We need to be better informed and prepared to protect ourselves. Unfortunately, it took a tragedy of great magnitude to bring it to the forefront."


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