Why are so many defense contractors being hacked lately?

A photo of the Northrop Grumman logo is shown at their Reston, Va., office Dec. 27 2005.

Obviously, these aren't the only organizations being hit lately. You may have heard about the hacks against hundreds of Gmail accounts that Google just reported. Google says those attacks can all be traced to Jinan, China (the Chinese government strenuously denies involvement). Indeed, we come across a host of security stories on this show every day.

But such effective attacks against defense contractors makes you wonder. Alan Pallar is director of research at the SANS Institute. He says this type of attack can be traced back to 2003, and while he doesn't necessarily think the number of incidents has increased, the power of the attacks has increased and they have become much more noticeable. They're still, in his opinion, about foreign operators trying to get a hold of intellectual property, trying to get details on what's being built.

Pallar says there are plenty of ways to repel intruders but human fallibility is a huge problem. Even smart people fall for phishing attacks if those attacks look slick enough. That can be the foot in the door for hackers.

We also talk to Anup Ghosh of the security firm Invincea. He says there are efforts being made right now by people to protect computer networks from people. I'll let you sort out the philosophical angles of that on your own time. Ghosh says one idea is to put people on a sort of virtual desktop where they can be online but not cause any harm. That might sound kind of patronizing but given the choice between that and an infected network, a lot of companies would give it some thought.

Also in this program, The Museum of Me. It's some slick interactive Flash animation in the form of a horrifying shrine to your own ego. Enjoy!

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