Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Where’s Marshal Cyber Earp when you need him?

The Internet needs the cyber-equivalent of legendary Marshal Wyatt Earp. International bandits, whose computer programs never sleep, are on the loose all over the web, intimidating businesses, robbing innocent people and creating an atmosphere of apprehension.

Global and domestic companies need to join together to devise defensive countermeasures against cyberbandits who are breaking into their data and robbing them and their customers of their identities, money and good names.

Either this, or the U.S. government very soon must create a department—and generate the taxes to support it—to protect web operations from being hacked by international criminals.

Either this, or Internet users entranced by the attractions and convenience of cyberspace will continue to be led like lambs to the slaughter.

The list of organizations that have been hacked is beginning to read like a Who's Who of business and government. The most recent include Sony, Citigroup, Google, Nintendo, Lockheed Martin, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Public Broadcasting system. Each day, the list grows longer.

What was once considered a prank and attributed to clueless teenagers who, like mountain climbers, did it because they could, has become a multi-million-dollar business for criminal networks with operations all over the world.

Businesses and government agencies face large-scale daily attacks on operations by criminals looking to hit the jackpot with stolen passwords and account numbers. These are more than minor irritations. Attacks debilitate operations and harm reputations. They cost money no organization can afford to lose.

Worse, stolen information devastates customers who may face financial losses or even the loss of their own identities.

The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that approximately 55,000 new viruses, worms and spyware are unleashed on the web every day. Yet, the only thing is has to offer is advice: Use state-of-the-art software and good password practices.

Yes, businesses should protect themselves, but there's no easy or foolproof way to do so that exists today.

President Obama said this week that high-tech jobs are going unfilled at a time when people are in desperate need of good jobs. Obama said he wants to change that with a jobs training program for engineering students.

That can't happen fast enough.

Surely, the world that produced the Stuxnet worm that likely disabled Iran's nuclear program can create Sheriff Cyber Earp whose virtual gun-slinging skills can protect the everyday electronic transactions of everyday people and make the Internet safe.

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