Really? According to the Wall Street Journal this morning, hackers penetrated the internal networks of Nortel and stayed in there for a decade. Yes, a decade, and may still be in there eight years after the attack was discovered in 2004. You know, way back when we all thought MicroSoft was the root of all evil and Google was harmless and wonderful.
Thought to be based in China, the digital intruders supposedly stole seven top executives’ passwords, and left spyware throughout the corporate network with which they downloaded technical papers, reports, plans, emails. In fact, the coverage goes on to speculate that the intrusion persisted through the company’s bankruptcy and breakup and into the companies that bought the pieces, e.g. Genband, Ciena, Ericsson, and Avaya.
Others think this isn’t likely, and honestly I doubt it as well. The tools a hacker would have used back then would be detected easily by today’s security software unless the hackers were in there actively upgrading things regularly even after knowing they’d been detected. The first principle of breaking in is to check if anybody’s looking first and move on if they are. And how many laptops from that era still work anyway?
But nevertheless, one has to wonder just how much mischief got done overall – whether it be corporate espionage, insider trading, personal data, or whatever. I doubt anyone will chalk up Nortel’s demise to this except in jest, but perhaps the company’s inability to ever re-establish security in the aftermath was a symptom of the malaise that took them down later.
If I get a virus or something, or my server is hacked, I clean it. If simple methods don’t fix it, I don’t just write it off and say oh well – if need be I wipe the drive and start over.
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