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Hacker Ring Steals Data From Half Of America's 1000 Largest Firms

Internet security, whether it is provided by software companies or the government, is not very good. Law enforcement groups have finally shut down the Mariposa botnet which is one of the world’s largest networks of hacked PCs, according to the FT. The hack system was based on using 12.7 million internet addresses in 190 countries and was able to steal financial and other sensitive data from over half of America’s 1,000 largest companies, the paper reports.

The news shows the extent to which criminals and other malicious groups, perhaps hackers inside countries like North Korea and China, can work their way into large collections of “secure” computers. Security software firms like Symantec (SYMC) and McAfee (MFE) are obviously unable to keep up with the threat and they are the major American companies that sell software meant to keep out the threats.

The news also shows how powerless even government defence agencies in the US and other developed nations are. The idea that computers inside 500 major companies could be compromised is mind boggling.

It becomes clear that as more and more news emerges about the hack on Google’s servers in China and the damage that programmers have done to services like Twitter that cybercriminals are several steps ahead of authorities in their ability to execute illegal attacks against corporate and government computers with impunity. Given the sophistication of these actions, it is almost certain that experts who mean to gather data from or shut down tens of thousand of computer across the worldwide web are improving their skills every day, and probably improving them faster than efforts to catch and punish them can be.

Douglas A. McIntyre