Four security lessons from the World Bank breach

The World Bank is making headlines after a disputed report claims hackers managed to access their secure network for over a year. One security pro offers takeaways that everyone can learn from the breach

"They might want to embarrass the World Bank for some reason. It could even be college kids not doing it for money, but for kicks," said Cluley. "We do sometimes see world-known organizations hacked simply because they are there and have left too many holes in their security. It becomes irresistible for hackers to resist."

Consider your organization's name and reputation? Would you be an attractive target for reasons beyond financial gain?

Even the big guys may be behind the times when it comes to security.

According to one of the memos cited by the Fox report, the organization decided to introduce secure ID for users to access their web email after the breach occurred.

"I'm really surprised they didn't have that kind of protection in place already," said Cluley. "There are many big businesses today, like banks, that require customers or employees to use an authentication key, or a token on a key ring, to access their accounts or systems. That's in addition to a username and password. It's a second level authentication that is fairly rudimentary to have in place if you're a large organization."

In another one of the incidents, the World Bank's treasury network was compromised. Bank investigators found spy software had been secretly installed on workstations inside the bank's Washington headquarters. The report claims one or more contractors from Satyam Computer Services, a large Indian-based IT company, is alleged to be responsible for the installation.

"But even if spyware has been installed and a username and password is stolen, that extra layer of security with a token would prevent further intrusion," noted Cluley.

The lesson here: Even if you are a massive business with a big budget, a reality check may be in order on your security protocol and policies.

We are still just at the beginning of security failures that lead to major breaches.

Cluley said he predicts there will be many more organizations on the road ahead that are going to have large-scale breaches before we reach a tipping point.

"The problem is, no matter how much technology you put in place there is always this human element," he said. "Humans can't be upgraded with new patches. But it's humans who are making mistakes and bad decisions which will often introduce security problems into organizations."

The key here, said Cluley, is not just technology, but raising education and awareness among staff.

Tags World Bank Group

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