Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT)
Computer security first became an issue in the mid 1970s when people started to tap phone systems. When technology began to make leaps and bounds in advancements, computer systems soon became open targets. During the 1980s, the FBI made a major computer hacking arrest. The hackers that were arrested, referred to as the 414s, were accused of hacking into 60 various large computer systems.
Hacking Legislation and the Formation of CERT
Computer hacking became a common activity in the 1980s so the government found it necessary to form a piece of legislation called the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. This act enabled the court system to apply stricter punishments on those who illegally abused computer systems. During this time period, many arrests were made, including those who managed to pilfer tens of millions of dollars from national banks. This prompted the US government to establish CERT, or the Computer Emergency Response Team. CERT is an organization in charge of investigating computer security breaches of US government systems. There are many other CERT teams in existence today however. Most large corporations and government organizations have their own CERT teams.
Computer viruses quickly became a huge problem in conjunction with numerous hacking activities. In 1987, three different notorious viruses were originated–Stoned, Friday the 13th, and Cascade. This caused large companies such as Symantec Corporation and IBM Corporation to research methods that would effectively locate and subsequently eradicate computer viruses in addition to preventing them from occurring. However, this caused virus writers to create more elaborate viruses. Once 1991 rolled around, over 1,000 computer viruses were detected by security experts.
Eventually, vital government bodies and corporations soon had their security gaps exposed and infiltrated by hackers. In the 1990s, AT&T experienced an attack on their long-distance network that caused it to close down temporarily. In 1995, approximately 250,000 attacks were launched on the United States Department of Defense and another hacker was sentenced for stealing data, software, and product plans from Motorola Incorporated, Novell Incorporated, Sun Microsystems Incorporated, and NEC Corporation. This lone hacker caused those companies to lose around $80 million.
In the late 1990s, the United States Air Force and Department of Justice as well as the CIA and NASA all experience hacking infiltration. It was due to these critical hacks that the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) was created by the United States Department of Justice in 1998. This task force was in charge of keeping domestic technology, transportation systems, and telecommunications safe from nefarious hackers.
What the Years 2000 and Beyond Brought
When an increasing amount of commerce transactions began to occur on the internet, hackers found new reasons to attack. In 2000, hacking rose 79% from the previous year as reported by CERT. Even large-scale websites like eBay, Yahoo, America Online, and Amazon became vulnerable to hackers, which not only cost them millions in revenue, but also the confidence online consumers had in their security measures.
The attacks listed on the companies above were actually caused by a hacker known as “Mafiaboy.” He was a 16 year old who hailed from Canada. After he was arrested by authorities, it was quickly realized Mafiaboy was also responsible for Harvard and Yale University computer system infiltrations.
Preventing Identity Theft
Don’t reveal personal financial information to anyone you don’t know unless you know how the information will be used and if it will be shared with others.
Don’t give out your Social Security number unless it’s absolutely necessary. Use a driver’s license instead, if possible.
DO NOT carry your Social Security card in your wallet.
Keep items with personal information in a safe place and either shred or tear them up when you don’t need them anymore.
Carefully check over your credit union and credit card statements every month and report any suspicious activity.
Photocopy all financial and insurance cards and keep copies in a safe place in case they are stolen.
If you don’t receive mail for a few days, contact the Post Office. This may be a sign that your mail is being ripped off and diverted to thieves filling out a change of address in your name.