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Security firm offers to replace 'keys' after data breach

A wrench around a computer represents online crime and Internet security.

UPDATED INTERVIEW

JEREMY HOBSON: Well after a string of recent cyber attacks on the likes of Sony and Google there's some corporate fallout this morning. A data storage company called EMC is offering to replace millions of electronic keys known as SecurIDs after a breach at defense contractor Lockheed Martin last month. Turns out those SecurID's weren't so secure after all.

Marketplace's Amy Scott joins us now live with more on this story. Good morning.

AMY SCOTT: Good morning.

HOBSON: Well Amy, I don't use one of these SecurIDs but I've seen them. What are they exactly?

SCOTT: Well, they're mostly used by millions of government and corporate workers to log on to their computers or software. And it can be a smart card or a key fob like you might use to unlock your car. And they have a little screen that flashes a series of numbers that you enter as a way of proving you are who you say you are.

HOBSON: So they're supposed to be really secure, what went wrong here?

SCOTT: Well, all we know is that in March, data was stolen from the division of EMC that makes the keys -- RSA Security. And that was used to hack into the network at Lockheed Martin last month. RSA called it a very sophisticated attack.

I spoke earlier with Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies Associates -- a market research firm. And he says what's different about this breech then some of the others we've been seeing lately is that it's a security company.

ROGER KAY: What we do know about this -- which is really bad news -- is that people who are in the security business have been unable to keep their system from a breach, which says, if they're not safe, then who is?

And what's also scary is that the hackers appear to be targeting defense contractors. Lockheed says it stopped the attack but you know it may not be the only company caught up in this.

HOBSON: Marketplace's Amy Scott, thanks Amy.

SCOTT: You're welcome.


ORIGINAL INTERVIEW

JEREMY HOBSON: Well after a string of recent cyber attacks on the likes of Sony and Google there's some corporate fallout this morning. A data storage company called EMC is offering to replace millions of electronic keys known as SecurIDs after a breach at defense contractor Lockheed Martin last month. Turns out those SecurID's weren't so secure after all.

Marketplace's Amy Scott joins us now live with more on this story. Good morning.

AMY SCOTT: Good morning Jeremy.

HOBSON: Well Amy, I don't use one of these SecurIDs -- I've seen them before. But tell us what they are.

SCOTT: Well, they're used by government and corporate workers to log onto their computers. They look kind of like the key fob you might use to beep open your car, only they have a little screen that flashes a series of constantly changing numbers that you enter as a supposedly super secure password.

HOBSON: So they're made, specifically, to prevent hackers from breaking into computers. How did they get compromised?

SCOTT: Well, all we know is that data was stolen from the company that makes the keys -- RSA Security. And then used to hack into the network at Lockheed Martin in what the company called a very sophisticated attack. You know, these companies typically don't go into a lot of detail, they don't want to give other hackers ideas. But they were targeting defense contractors. Lockheed by the way says the attack was thwarted.

HOBSON: And now the company that makes the SecurIDs is offering to replace all of them?

SCOTT: Well, they've offered to replace them for most customers. That would be in the millions. But depending on their security needs, some may not need replacements. Lockheed Martin though told the Wall Street Journal it has accepted the offer.

HOBSON: Marketplace's Amy Scott, thanks so much.

SCOTT: You're welcome.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.
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