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Stealing Silicon Valley

Soulskill posted 1 year,19 days | from the getaway-car-and-a-pocket-full-of-flash-drives dept.

Security 139

pacopico writes "A series of robberies in Silicon Valley have start-ups feeling nervous. According to this report in Businessweek, a couple of networking companies were burgled recently with attempts made to steal their source code. The fear is that virtual attacks have now turned physical and that espionage in the area is on the rise. As a result, companies are now doing more physical penetration testing, including one case in which a guy was mailed in a FedEx box in a bid to try and break into a start-up."

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the box was labelled "Supplies" (5, Funny)

themushroom (197365) | 1 year,19 days | (#45102407)

And when the staff opened the top, a 4'5" Asian man jumped out and said "Supplies!!"

Re:the box was labelled "Supplies" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45102459)

your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

Re:the box was labelled "Supplies" (1)

watcher-rv4 (2712547) | 1 year,19 days | (#45102485)

Supplies, If electronics, will work for 3 days and then die.

Re:the box was labelled "Supplies" (1)

davester666 (731373) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103659)

Actual "work" on day 3 must be taken with a grain of salt...

Re:the box was labelled "Supplies" (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | 1 year,19 days | (#45102523)

And when the staff opened the top, a 4'5" Asian man jumped out and said "Supplies!!"

"Good, I need a replacement keyboard and a coffee."

Re:the box was labelled "Supplies" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45102553)

Best 1st post EVER!!!! So jealous.

Credit please... (4, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | 1 year,19 days | (#45102611)

To the master, Weird Al [youtube.com] .

Credit please... only where credit due (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | 1 year,19 days | (#45102711)

I heard forms of this joke back in the 1950's. I do like weird Al, but he deserves no credit here.

Re:Credit please... only where credit due (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45102889)

I heard forms of this joke back in the 1950's. I do like weird Al, but he deserves no credit here.

Perhaps, but he certainly put more class into the delivery in that scene than most would have done.

Re:Credit please... only where credit due (2)

Beorytis (1014777) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103047)

Perhaps, but he certainly put more class into the delivery

Do you mean "class" or "crass"?

Re:the box was labelled "Supplies" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45102627)

Great First Post! Well done!!

Re:the box was labelled "Supplies" (1)

Ralph Michael De Leon (3387837) | 1 year,19 days | (#45102631)

This Just in: start up at Silicon Valley "Mail-Man" huge success.

LOL Racism (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45102849)

So I take it now racist jokes are ok and rewarded here? Shame on you and the moderators.

we voted (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45102959)

you lose our erection

Re:LOL Racism (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45102993)

It's not exactly racist. It's a reference to a scene in Weird Al's movie UHF. I suppose you could argue that making a joke about accents is racist, but seeing as it isn't really derogatory in any way, I'm not sure how it would be. (The height is a reference to the height of the actor in the movie.)

Re:LOL Racism (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103053)

All accents are funny (unless it's your accent, then it's racist).

Re:LOL Racism (1)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103229)

The corollary to that is nobody thinks they have an accent, just that everyone else does.

Re:LOL Racism (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103663)

Canadians don't have an accent, eh?

Re:LOL Racism (1)

s.petry (762400) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103719)

I always enjoy that Canadian "aboot" instead of "about". Eh?

Re:LOL Racism (1)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,19 days | (#45104835)

All accents are funny (unless it's your accent, then it's racist).

How can a blonde haired blue eyed Bostonian be racist against a blonde haired blue eyed Texan? Making fun of accents has nothing to do with race. In fact, accents themselves have nothing to do with race and everything to do with growing up in a certain location. I know a man whose parents are both Japanese, he was adopted by a Chicago couple in infancy. Guess what? He speaks with a Chicago accent.

Re:LOL Racism (1)

xevioso (598654) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103177)

Making fun of a person's accent isn't racist, Mr. Crabby McCrabberton.

Re:LOL Racism (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45103515)

Stupid! You so stupid!

Re:the box was labelled "Supplies" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45102965)

Re:the box was labelled "Supplies" (1)

BobNET (119675) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103671)

Let's see what's in the box!

Industrial Espianage (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45102453)

Duh!

LOL ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,19 days | (#45102477)

including one case in which a guy was mailed in a FedEx box in a bid to try and break into a start-up.

Unless you had a prior arrangement with FedEx ... worst job ever.

Re:LOL ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45102725)

including one case in which a guy was mailed in a FedEx box in a bid to try and break into a start-up.

Was his name Flat Stanley?

resume (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | 1 year,19 days | (#45102503)

He just wanted to make sure they received his resume.

strange article (4, Insightful)

schneidafunk (795759) | 1 year,19 days | (#45102511)

It goes from corporate espionage to some guy stealing credit card numbers as a 'hobby'.

I work at a major corporation that has security cards to get into the building and my computer is password protected with an encrypted hard drive & a physical lock on the computer. Are security guards with guns really necessary?

Re:strange article (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,19 days | (#45102581)

It goes from corporate espionage to some guy stealing credit card numbers as a 'hobby'.

I work at a major corporation that has security cards to get into the building and my computer is password protected with an encrypted hard drive & a physical lock on the computer. Are security guards with guns really necessary?

A security-minded person would say 'yes, because security guards with guns deter threats that locks and passwords do not.' If your valuables are really that valuable, then there is no such thing as too much security.

Of course, the article is mainly focused on start-ups who rarely focus on security, not large corporations who have years experience at deterring the bad guys.

Re:strange article (1)

AJH16 (940784) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103011)

Well, there is if you burden it with so much security that people start taking shortcuts to use it that leave you more vulnerable, but I get what you mean. It's important to remember that even in high security situations, it's still a balancing act though.

Re:strange article (1)

Score Whore (32328) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103503)

The people taking short cuts need to be fired immediately. Protecting the company assets as at least as much of the job as creating the assets.

Re:strange article (2)

lgw (121541) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103769)

Bullshit. People will always take short cuts, even in the military. But if your company exists to create software, the guys who create software are ultimately the real assets.

Good security revolves around understanding that people take shortcuts. Make the right thing to do easier than the wrong thing. For example, any security door between where people sit and the smoking area will be propped open - guaranteed. You can try to resolve that with shouting, or you can simply build a smoking area inside the secure perimeter. With the latter approach it's now easier to smoke in the smoking area than not, and no one will be working around your security for their convenience (and to avoid tracking).

Re:strange article (3, Informative)

cusco (717999) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103867)

Or you can install an obnoxious sounder that goes off every time the door is held open more than X-many seconds. That works really well, we do it all the time.

Re:strange article (1)

lgw (121541) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103953)

Works great when it doesn't annoy any hardware geeks. :)

When I worked in a hardware lab, I remember the time facilities put lock-boxes around the thermostats. Hilarity ensued. Eventually, there would be no physical evidence of how the thermostats would mysteriously change settings inside their lockboxes.

Re:strange article (1)

Score Whore (32328) | 1 year,19 days | (#45104443)

You didn't make an argument, you just said people will ignore the rules. And those people should be fired. The reducto ab absurdum of your argument is that we shouldn't have any laws against murder as there will be murderers. And that we don't need knowledgeable and skilled surgeons as it's easier to be ignorant and unskilled.

The reality is that in certain environments, good security craft is as much of the job as good software development skills -- and I'm not saying writing secure software, to help clarify for some readers. The developers need to be experienced and aware of the appropriate security measures and be willing to implement them in their day to day actions. If they aren't, either experienced or willing, then they are unqualified regardless of how good they might be at developing software or hardware. It's a like washing your hands after going to the bathroom (not doing which is also a perfectly good reason to be fired.)

Propping a door open can lead to tens of thousands of dollars in losses at the low end, say from a simple equipment burglary to total failure of the company from trade secret loss. If someone feels that their need for convenience the greater issue, then that person has a fucked up sense of priorities that makes them unqualified to work in that environment. That's just a basic fact. E.g. if you can't be bothered to wash your hands before cutting someone's head open, you're not qualified regardless of how steady your hands are.

Re:strange article (3, Insightful)

AJH16 (940784) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103933)

Actually, the people taking shortcuts should be educated on why not to take shortcuts and the procedures reviewed to see if they can be improved. Overly burdensome security will harm moral and could possibly increase the chance of an internal breach, which is always the biggest risk since the people inside are supposed to have at least some access.

Re:strange article (1)

Score Whore (32328) | 1 year,19 days | (#45104449)

That education should happen on the first day they are working for you and if they aren't willing to follow procedures then they aren't aligned with your business interests and have no reason to be working for you.

Re:strange article (2)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103089)

A security-minded person would say 'yes, because security guards with guns deter threats that locks and passwords do not.' If your valuables are really that valuable, then there is no such thing as too much security.

Of course, the article is mainly focused on start-ups who rarely focus on security, not large corporations who have years experience at deterring the bad guys.

Just as real computer security is hard, so is real physical security.

I think I've worked maybe one place that had what I would consider real physical security that was worth much of anything. (And it wasn't the military, but rather a military contractor.)

Re:strange article (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45104837)

A security-minded person would say 'yes, because security guards with guns deter threats that locks and passwords do not.' If your valuables are really that valuable, then there is no such thing as too much security.

There is always such thing as too much security: if your security costs more than your risk-assessed value, you have too much security.

I'll give you an example: if you have $1M in diamonds, and a probability estimate for theft of 10%/year, if you are spending over $100k/year to keep them secure, you have too much security (to say nothing about whether your particular security is effective). Even if your probability estimate is way off, if you are spending more than $1M total on security, you have too much security.

A simpler and more realistic way to look at it is this: if your security is costing more than it would to insure against your loss, you have too much. Since your insurance premium is likely affected by how much security you have, it turns out that it is a convex optimisation problem to minimise the combined cost of security and insurance.

Re:strange article (1)

swb (14022) | 1 year,19 days | (#45102583)

Are security guards with guns really necessary?

This is the problem with security -- people tout how necessary these things are based on negative results. In other words, armed guards must be necessary because nobody has tried to rob the place at gunpoint.

It's just like all the paranoia around airport security -- because nobody has hijacked a plane, the TSA must be doing a good job, right?

Re:strange article (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45102745)

This is the problem with security -- people tout how necessary these things are based on negative results.

No they don't. Well, at least not anyone who is not an idiot or a strawman.

Informed people claim these things are necessary based on risk assessment and vulnerability analysis. If the information you are protecting is valuable enough for someone to risk an armed assault on your premises, then you may need armed guards to mitigate that risk.

In fact, the exact opposite of what you claim tends to occur quite frequently: No one has attempted to rob us so we don't need these armed guards!

Neither analysis is correct. Appropriate security is based on risk factors and vulnerabilities.

Re:strange article (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | 1 year,19 days | (#45102751)

Are security guards with guns really necessary?

This is the problem with security -- people tout how necessary these things are based on negative results. In other words, armed guards must be necessary because nobody has tried to rob the place at gunpoint.

It's just like all the paranoia around airport security -- because nobody has hijacked a plane, the TSA must be doing a good job, right?

To be fair, the same tautology is used in reverse -- physical security obviously isn't needed because nobody is ever caught by them.

What you really need is some logical tests and bet hedging. This is what went into seatbelt laws, whose results have been measurable, and have saved insurance companies a ton of money.

So... do startups with decent physical security on average make more of a profit than those without? This is the true measure of whether it's needed.

Of course, it's also like the bear metaphor -- if all the other startups have no physical security, getting some for yourself will mean that it'll be the OTHER guys who will get broken into.

Re:strange article (3, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,19 days | (#45102639)

Are security guards with guns really necessary?

With a little social engineering and determination, it's surprisingly easy (I hear) to bypass the entry controls in a lot of places.

Hell, put on a green uniform and carry a clip-board and they might hold the door open for you.

I've been at places which have a policy that if you don't recognize someone, challenge them as to why they're there. I once stopped a VP and said "ummm, who the heck are you and how did you get in?" because he had never seen before but was standing outside the lab. He was surprisingly nice about it too.

So it all depends on how valuable what you have is, and how likely someone is to take pains to get it. From the sounds of it, this is due to actual incidents which have happened.

Re:strange article (3, Funny)

sosume (680416) | 1 year,19 days | (#45102869)

I always tell people I'm the newly appointed VP when they catch me around offices I shouldn't be.

predator - prey relationship (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45102995)

the world can always use more escaped lions [jargon.net]

Re:strange article (2)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103181)

I always tell people I'm the newly appointed VP when they catch me around offices I shouldn't be.

I still made him show me his badge and checked with reception.

I'm not the trusting sort.

Re:strange article (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45103755)

I had a job where someone was claiming to be a VP or high muckey-muck who claimed to have left his badge in his car, and then yelling, "you don't know who I am"? when I challenged him and wouldn't let him into a server room when he demanded access.

I ended up yelling for security, then telling him that I did knew who he was... someone about to be asked some pointed questions about why they were in the building with no proof of who they were.

Too bad it was a VP that worked at another state and was in town on some muckety-muck business. I got fired about an hour later.

Not to say I will let a tailgater in even after losing my job due to one. Better a lost job, than a lost job + being the fall guy if the person who got let in was truly there for criminal activity.

Re:strange article (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45103817)

I had almost the exact same scenario happen, except I didnt get fired - I got called on the carpet and given a chance to apologize. I flatly refused to apologize for doing my job and if they wanted anything more from me they could talk to my lawyer. Never heard a peep about it again.

Re:strange article (4, Interesting)

cusco (717999) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103879)

This exact scenario happened recently where I currently work. An executive from headquarters showed up with his party to inspect a new data center, his staff had accidentally left his name off the list of people to be granted temporary access. He made all kinds of noise about it, but ended up sitting in the lobby while the rest of the party took in the dog and pony show. Once he got home and cooled down he sent a letter of commendation to the guard staff at the data center. Don't know what happened to the staffer that left his name off the list.

Re:strange article (4, Interesting)

swb (14022) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103055)

Right after 9/11 I asked our electrician if he had been experiencing more difficulty getting into buildings to do work. I figured with security on everyone's mind it would be more challenging to show up and gain access to sensitive areas of downtown office buildings.

He just laughed and said no. He said if I took one of his work uniform shirts (company logo polo) and carried a bunch of tools with me I could walk into any building security office downtown and check out master keys merely by handing them my driver's license. No questions asked.

My guess is with the right employee uniform you can get away with going a lot of places you don't belong. You could probably do some serious mayhem in the local telco uniform as this would probably get you into any wiring closet in the building, and often they have patch panels and switches for local networks.

Re:strange article (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45104619)

I agree. I work at a dealership and I remember seeing an article posted on the bulletin telling us that another dealership in the area had lost some vehicles due to this type of social engineering. Some people would dress in technician clothing, taking keys and driving off with some vehicles without setting off any flags of anybody actually working at the dealership.

Re:strange article (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45102655)

>Are security guards with guns really necessary?

Do they keep the $5 wrench away from your knees when someone breaks in and wants the data badly enough?

Then yes. :)

Re:strange article (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45102709)

They are there to keep you in line.

Re:strange article (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45103045)

Not unless you dont consider someone walking into the office and physically forcing you to unlock said passwords and physical devices with the proverbial $5 wrench a danger. Which is exactly the problem that seems to be evolving here...

(I would give up the password in a heartbeat, nothing on my works servers is worth my life. so perhaps it is not a bad idea to have physical security in place to avoid that issue ever coming up - if the employer values the data that is)

Yes, here is why (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103213)

It goes from corporate espionage to some guy stealing credit card numbers as a 'hobby'.

I work at a major corporation that has security cards to get into the building and my computer is password protected with an encrypted hard drive & a physical lock on the computer. Are security guards with guns really necessary?

Depends on the situation. If your property is that valuable, perhaps. Now, consider this: If people are willing to physically break into your facilities, that's passing the threshold that divides a cyber-violation to a physical violation. Statistically, breaking into someone's property usually correlates with a willingness to commit physical aggression. With that in mind, guns for security guards and LEO's are not simply to "shoot" the bad guys, but for them to protect themselves.

If I owned a property that has been broken into, or that is at risk of suffering a break-in, and if I had a need to protect valuables inside, I could not in good conscience put a security guard there with no legal means to defend himself if/when SHTF.

Re:Yes, here is why (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45104021)

Just like a lock on a door, if I had a data center, it would two armed guards at the minimum, one at the desk watching monitors, one doing patrols.

This doesn't mean that there ever will be a shootout, but it usually removes that thought from robber's heads, because they may lose the gun battle... and if caught (and police tend to actually take the time to hunt down people shooting at those in uniform, especially if it was an off-duty peace officer), robbery might hard time, but any crime using a firearm in the US will almost invariably give 20-life. To boot, firearms crimes usually mean an automax sentence in the state prison system.

So, even though it is highly unlikely there would ever be an issue, with any data center, one never knows, especially in these times in the US where sanity seems to have taken the year off.

Re:strange article (1)

cusco (717999) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103315)

You plug into a network, right? Where's the switch? Where's your server? Where are the project files? Are they encrypted? Where are all of the domain controllers? Who has access to the printer hard drives? Are all of your co-irkers as conscientious as you are? Who controls access to the network closets? What's the procedure to access them? Can people get away with tailgating into the building?

Depending on your location the gun probably isn't necessary (unless your high executives are in the same building as you are), but the guard staff sure as hell is.

Re:strange article (2)

nospam007 (722110) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103741)

"You plug into a network, right? Where's the switch? Where's your server? Where are the project files? Are they encrypted? Where are all of the domain controllers? Who has access to the printer hard drives? Are all of your co-irkers as conscientious as you are? Who controls access to the network closets? What's the procedure to access them? Can people get away with tailgating into the building? "

We asked Borland or Inprise or whatever it was called at that moment for the source code for dBase III+ in the late nineties, they would have given us the code perhaps, but nobody was able to find out where it was.
The developers were retired, dead or moved one a decade ago when they took over Ashton-Tate.

Re:strange article (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45103427)

I'd say yes. Around '06, there was a data center in Chicago hit multiple times with racks of equipment "liberated" by armed robbers. It took a law passed in the city to allow companies to hire armed guards before this data center stopped getting hit.

I am amazed that this hasn't happened more, mainly because security usually are 1-2 HID card reader locks in most places. However, when thieves start to realize that a data center hit can not just net them a tidy sum of equipment, but the ability to blackmail ("Give us a ransom or these files will be published/sold overseas") or extort ("Give us a ransom or else we destroy all the backups and data") is something that will be a windfall for thieves.

Armed security guards don't solve everything. However, they force intruders to either have a firefight (which means the police will be there in a heartbeat), be sneaky, or find softer targets.

As of now, data centers are still white collar territory. However, it will only be a matter of time before the same gangs who make money with home invasions start realizing that a robbed data center can be extremely profitable.

So, physical attacks are not surprising, and in a lot of cases, it is far easier to get physical access to a building's machines than it is to hack in via the Internet.

Re:strange article (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103677)

If your competitor can slow you down by destroying your work, passwords and encryption will not protect you. Of course if your competitor does that, he must be really stupid because you have off-site backups of everything right?

Re:strange article (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | 1 year,19 days | (#45104131)

It depends if your working at Thames House, Babylon on Thames or Fort Mede probably yes some little consumer company like amazon or apple not so much :-)

KEY WORD: a ... COUPLE ... of (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45102515)

Two does not make a party !! I propose that if there are not two a day then the police may as well stay home !!

Seal of approval (1)

gmuslera (3436) | 1 year,19 days | (#45102569)

If the government does it, then it should not be so wrong.

Re:Seal of approval (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | 1 year,19 days | (#45102767)

If the government does it, then it should not be so wrong.

The reason we have a government is so that we can have strict controls on a small group of people who do what would otherwise be illegal. Somewhere along the line, we forgot about the strict controls, but that doesn't mean what they do should be suddenly legal.

Those who forget the past... (4, Interesting)

Virtucon (127420) | 1 year,19 days | (#45102663)

Are doomed to repeat it. Espionage is nothing new and it's been around for centuries. The plans for the Atomic Bomb were stolen by people who were sympathetic to the Soviets. [smithsonianmag.com]

Sometimes technology can be given away, stupidly, when somebody is trying to build better relations [css.ethz.ch] or is reverse engineered like the TU-4 bomber. [io9.com]

While we've been concerned with Cyber Espionage it's still nice to see that old fashioned bribery and cunning are still in use and that countries and competitors will still go to whatever lengths are necessary to steal technology. We've allowed billions in technological innovations to be stolen and given away and it will come back to haunt us.

Re:Those who forget the past... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45102793)

Is it really possible to stop? Espionage has been around for centuries for a reason. It will be around for as long as there are humans. Quite frankly, I am not sure I want to live on a planet where espionage/hacking do not occur. As distasteful as these things are, there are a side effect of freedom.

Re: Those who forget the past... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45103273)

It's a lot of fun for the person infiltrating. Better than shoplifting!

Re:Those who forget the past... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45103065)

This. It's not virtual attacks that have "turned into physical". Physical attacks have never stopped. Heck, 15 years ago my grandmother got burglered, but the only think they took was the PC. Industrial espionage isn't a new phenomenon.

Re:Those who forget the past... (1)

timeOday (582209) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103297)

But you are wrong in placing blame by implying that remembering the past prevents you from having to repeat it. The fact is that secrets have a shelf life. You can lengthen it, but not too much.

Re:Those who forget the past... (1)

Virtucon (127420) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103601)

Or you can patent the secret then everybody knows how you did it.

Just insure it (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45102685)

Just insure your code. Most of what's being written in the Valley is better off being metaphorically "burned down" for the insurance money anyway. Followed by... they stole the code for FaceBook or Twitter? Most of the value is in the branding and the infrastructure that allows them to scale. The code that's running in a particular VM, by itself, is probably not worth much.

The headline... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45102695)

The headline conjures up images of someone physically picking up silicon valley and running off with it.
Cartoon style.
Thanks for that image slashdot :P
- Gallefray

Re:The headline... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45102917)

That would be "Gallifrey", guy. And if you're going to sign a post, why not just log in?
- Anonymous Coward, esq.

Security starts with inventory (3, Interesting)

onyxruby (118189) | 1 year,19 days | (#45102737)

This shouldn't really surprise someone. When you think about a data center or server rack is arguably about the most valuable square footage that you can have. Think of a comparison to a typical jewelry shop, it might have $250,000 to a $1,000,000 in a vault and it's not easy to liquidate for anything resembling it's retail value. Now think of a typical bank vault, it probably has a typical amount of money, and again liquidation is an issue (look up money laundering for the challenges drug dealers face plus serial numbers).

Now think of a single rack in a data-center where a low end server can easily cost $5000 and nobody blinks an eye at something costing $25,000. A single rack can easily be worth a million dollars or more depending on how it is loaded. You can also easily resell IT equipment or part it out and there is a much smaller chance of getting caught. Serial numbers are an issue of course, but if something gets sent overseas the cost of getting caught drops significanly while the value is pretty much retained.

If you were to look at the sheer value of the contents of a building the only buildings that could possibly compete with a data center would be the exceptional bank vault and factories such as where they build new jetliners.

Re:Security starts with inventory (2)

mlts (1038732) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103897)

What I've found is sometimes the best protection for data center rack protection is sometimes things that are fairly simple.

Something as simple as pin-Torx or pin-Robertson (square head) screws can keep equipment from vanishing, assuming the bits are stored somewhere fairly secure. It isn't near 100%, but it will slow someone down who managed to get in, and who is looking to unbolt something out of a rack and then make a break for it out the fire door.

If I need more secure tamper-resistant screws, Bryce Fastener can make custom-headed screws that only each customer would have bits to. This is low-tech and won't stop someone who has the ability to haul 500+ pounds out on a rack, but it is a good line of defense.

Computer-wise, for very sensitive servers, I always have some sort of DAR (disk at rest) encryption (with the recovery keys stored in multiple secure, but recoverable locations.) That way, if someone grabs all the disks from an array, the data is useless without the LUKS or BitLocker keys. Similar on the SAN side. With encryption enabled on the drive controllers and the drives being hardware self-encrypting, a theft becomes "just" a hardware loss, not both hardware loss and a major security breach.

None of these measures are 100%. A computer that uses BitLocker Network Unlock can be decrypted via a RAM dump. Security screws can be drilled or slotted with a Dremel tool. However, it is better to have some measures in place than none.

Re:Security starts with inventory (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | 1 year,19 days | (#45104355)

You can also easily resell IT equipment or part it out and there is a much smaller chance of getting caught. Serial numbers are an issue of course, but if something gets sent overseas the cost of getting caught drops significanly while the value is pretty much retained.

Wouldn't the shipping overseas idea apply equally to cash and jewelry?

Lower cost of espionage (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45102743)

Why bother with expensive, well paid hackers or going through the complexity of setting up a bot-net to break in to a competitor when you can sneak in the back door in the middle of the night, root through drawers until you find a sticky note with a password and get things the old fashioned way.

even lower (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | 1 year,19 days | (#45104419)

Hell, I get all of the secret information that I can ever use or sell just by filing freedom of information act req8uests with our friendly neighborhood NSA. It's a little redacted, but you still get plenty of information that the owners would like to keep private.

nothing new here (2)

frovingslosh (582462) | 1 year,19 days | (#45102761)

Just more proof that information wants to be free.

Re:nothing new here (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45102907)

Information has no such desires.

People with projection issues claim information wants to be free, as a justification for their own personal appetite for information, regardless of who owns it, or their expense to aquire it, or silly things like laws and property rights.

Re:nothing new here (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45104753)

And proof that free information is not free but merely exploited. Information wants to be exploited.

Movie time (3, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | 1 year,19 days | (#45102773)

I bet it's those Pirates of Silicon Valley. Damn pirates, always stealing everything.

Re:Movie time (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45104343)

yes -- I have seen a lot more parrots around town now that you mention that.... hmm.

arrrggh

Encryption? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | 1 year,19 days | (#45102789)

Aren't these companies encrypting their extremely valuable data? All of my computers use full-disk encryption and I don't have anything more valuable than old tax returns and my carefully curated p0rn collection. I've got a lot of my company's source code, but most of it will end up open sourced anyway, so it's not that valuable to a thief.

Did They Do Attack Trees? (5, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | 1 year,19 days | (#45102823)

C'mon, guys, if you'd have done your attack trees [schneier.com] , you'd know that the guy who empties the waste basket can install a keylogger for a day for much less cost than it would take to break your 4096 bit PGP key.

I suppose this story does highlight some changing costs on the nodes, though - if physical penetration is becoming more prevalent, then either the cost of hiring somebody to do it is falling (due to massive unemployment, perhaps?) or the costs of other attacks are rising.

Re:Did They Do Attack Trees? (5, Interesting)

cusco (717999) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103483)

The cost of doing it is dropping because the tools are getting cheaper, easier to use, and easier to deploy. A local software company got hacked by someone just plugging a wireless router into an unoccupied network port in a conference room and taping it under the table (they think it was a job applicant being interviewed), and then just browsing their network from the parking lot that night. I've heard (second hand) of an office where the janitorial staff plugged a netbook into a port under a desk, let it sniff all network traffic for a couple of days, and then handed it off to whoever hired them. I've seen USB keyloggers advertised for under $100, and some of the newer remote control/viewing software can be autoinstalled and is unnoticeable to the casual user. It just isn't rocket surgery any more.

Re:Did They Do Attack Trees? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45103595)

" if physical penetration is becoming more prevalent, then either the cost of hiring somebody to do it is falling (due to massive unemployment, perhaps?) or the costs of other attacks are rising"

Or the value of that which can be stolen is increasing. Which is probably the most likely answer. There isnt "massive unemployment" in Silicon Valley.

War By Other Means. (4, Informative)

tekrat (242117) | 1 year,19 days | (#45102881)

I remember reading "War By Other Means" (http://www.amazon.com/War-Other-Means-Economic-Espionage/dp/0393318214/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1381510831&sr=8-3&keywords=war+by+other+means) more than 10 years ago.

The book starts off with how the USA, during it's early years, sent "spies" to European nations to gather their technology regarding weaving and agriculture, as well as the start of the industrial revolution, and how that enabled the USA to become a superpower, and now it's being turned around on us that other countries such as China are doing the same thing, except that they are doing it on a much larger scale.

That this is happening on a small scale in the valley is no surprise, since the lead-time on new tech is now incredibly small. Look how Samsung introduced a "smartwatch" based on a RUMOR that Apple was doing that.

Re:War By Other Means. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45103355)

> Look how Samsung introduced a "smartwatch" based on a RUMOR that Apple was doing that.

Riiight...

because releasing a small touch screen based computer system on a watch based on commodity software and SOC's is WAY TOTALLY DIFFERENT
than releasing a small touch screen based computer system in a phone based on commodity software and SOC's

don't disagree with your premise - but, this is not a very compelling example case..

Re:War By Other Means. (2)

artor3 (1344997) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103865)

The US didn't become a superpower by stealing loom technology. It became a superpower because every other major power was a bombed out husk following World War II.

Re:War By Other Means. (1)

bored (40072) | 1 year,19 days | (#45104557)

And the fact that the US was basically the manufacturing powerhouse of the early 20th century. The US didn't win the war because it had better technology, or a larger war machine at the beginning of the war. It won because it produced 10-100x as many tanks/planes/jeeps/ships/oil/etc as the Germans and Japanese.

Governmor Brown is being questioned? (4, Funny)

s.petry (762400) | 1 year,19 days | (#45102937)

Oh wait, this is not about the business taxes in CA.

fyp CocK (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45103081)

GNNA (GAY NIGGER your replies rather (Click Here FreeBSD used to windows, SUN or racist? How is dying. All major be in a scene and FreeBSD showed

Deja vu all over again (3, Interesting)

TheloniousToady (3343045) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103137)

Sounds like the kindda stuff Kevin Mitnick was doing to The Phone Company decades ago. He once broke into a local Ma Bell office to steal manuals, as reported in his book "Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker".

The book is a pretty good read. In it, Mitnick repeatedly claims he never profited from any of his adventures - except by selling books and becoming a security consultant, of course. Heck, some of the reported robbers in Silicon Valley might be even more ethical.

We're living the a cyberpunk future. (1)

runeghost (2509522) | 1 year,19 days | (#45103711)

So, apparently shadowruns are a real thing now? I already knew William Gibson was just writing plain old fiction, but it still causes cognitive dissonance to realize I'm actually living in the dystopian future I read about back in the '80s.

Re:We're living the a cyberpunk future. (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | 1 year,19 days | (#45104155)

Kids today :-) hardcore run is what your referring to - ie one requiring physical recce or direct action.

LoTek (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45104029)

Lotech win.

WiFi (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45104159)

Should have just mailed in a phone that is wifi internet enabled and running NMAP online and possibly AirCrackNG, get the internal addressing and hack in from there to the source code sitting on the server.

no news here (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45104781)

I mean startups usually steal IP... hence why they're a startup in the valley nowadays. Stealing from some college paper, student project, hobbyist prototype, crowd sourced, movie writer, book writer.... the valley is run by MBAs not dreamers. MBAs reuse/regurg IP, not create it.

So folks stealing from them as in TFA is somewhat quid pro quo.

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