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“It turned out that the botnet runners had infected computers by instant-messaging malicious links to contacts on infected computers. They also got viruses onto removable thumb drives and through peer-to-peer networks. The program used to create the botnet was known as Mariposa, from the Spanish word for “butterfly.” – From Today’s USA Today….

A few notes on this

  • These were business guys, not geeks, running a for-profit business.  Mistakes made by senior management allowed authorities to track down the people in charge.  According to the article, this is rarely the case – generally the people at the top don’t get caught.
  • The goal is profit, the tool is the botnet – this botnet has been around for years, stealing millions of credit card numbers along with other sensitive data.  Over 13Million computers are involved, and I assume the owners of these systems have no idea who they are.  Likely, some of them are our clients.
  • Instant messaging, P2P networking, and thumb drives – this is typical.  Instant messaging means people were receiving links and clicking on them to infect their computers, P2P is on more computers  than you might imagine – used by many to exchange free music among other things.  Look for people using home computers for work purposes, or taking work computers home and allowing their kids to use them.  This is a sure sign that data is at risk.
  • Thumb drives – this is the oldest trick in the book…yet hackers still win with it.

Assessments are still the number one way to create immediate justification for project work and managed services.  The question is, are you finding urgent issues?  Make sure your team is trained the find the things that lead to justification – this is not always the focus for high end security consultants.  I find companies continue to lead with policy projects, architectural issues, and highly technical rhetoric which generally lands the sales person back with (unqualified) IT people that want to fix it themselves.

One final note – this is not just about finding security project work…whatever you sell can start with risk issues.  Whether you sell storage, servers, UC, applications…it doesn’t really matter. The issue sales people are facing right now is budget constraints, and this type of risk opens the door to assess risk, upgrade core systems, modify architecture, and implement managed services over every aspect of the IT architecture – if data is present, data is at risk.  THIS is the topic of my March Teleseminar…

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SC Magazine News wire reported this morning an increase in technology spending based on a survey of CIOs.  Server technology tops the list, with security right behind it.  The problem is, competition is likely to be fierce as some companies actually do begin moving forward on delayed projects, while others remain cautious.  How will you differentiate?  Imagine selling your server technology with an emphasis on security!  But don’t be fooled into leading with the product…business justification and risk mitigation will be your differentiators.  You can read the actual news wire here (It’s brief):

http://www.scmagazineus.com/security-spend-to-rise/article/159319/?DCMP=EMC-SCUS_Newswire

Are you keeping up with the tech news?  There are some interesting things happening out there in the midst of a broken economy.  IBM is looking to pick up Sun – whether or not you are in this market or not, there are a lot UNIX servers being sold out there; it’s not all Microsoft.  Can IBM resurrect some of the momentum SUN had in the late 90s?  The more interesting news is Cisco’s entre into the server market.  If you recall a Fortune magazine article last fall detailing Cisco’s  data center strategy, selling enormous switches with a green side to them, this is the next step.  To be honest, I was expecting a storage acquisition by now, leveraging Cisco’s SAN switch technology.  I’m certain this is next.  While it may sound to some like Novell buying Wordperfect, I think there’s more to this.  A recent Harvard Review article provides some insight on what may be happening here: 

  • 1. Taking control of future cloud computing resources
  • 2. Building a compliant infrastructure in expectation of new “green” legislation
  • 3. Redefining data storage and server capabilities as part of the network (Something SUN tried to do from the server side, but never actually succeeded on)
  • 4. Positioning for a more mobile and lightweight computing world that will better serve minis, iphones, and other PDA type technology.

I recommend the Harvard Review article: http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/sviokla/2009/03/does_cisco_have_its_head_in_th.html

But wait!  There’s another side of this.  These companies are expanding their brand and foot print while others are wallowing in economic depression.  They are cutting wasteful spending while spending strategically to grow their brand.  This is part of the downturn strategy.  When things do finally turn around, these companies will have new offerings ready to go, a brand that’s remembered, and cash in the bank to restart their momentum.