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Security Crime

Stealing Silicon Valley 139

Posted by Soulskill
from the getaway-car-and-a-pocket-full-of-flash-drives dept.
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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Stealing Silicon Valley

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  • Re:strange article (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Friday October 11, 2013 @12:46PM (#45102639) Homepage

    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.

  • by Virtucon (127420) on Friday October 11, 2013 @12:48PM (#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.

  • by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby@nosPam.comcast.net> on Friday October 11, 2013 @12:56PM (#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.

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Friday October 11, 2013 @01:04PM (#45102823) Homepage Journal

    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:strange article (Score:5, Interesting)

    by swb (14022) on Friday October 11, 2013 @01:24PM (#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.

  • by TheloniousToady (3343045) on Friday October 11, 2013 @01:32PM (#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.

  • by cusco (717999) <brian.bixby@gmail.STRAWcom minus berry> on Friday October 11, 2013 @02:06PM (#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:strange article (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cusco (717999) <brian.bixby@gmail.STRAWcom minus berry> on Friday October 11, 2013 @02:55PM (#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.

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