Firms spent $5.5 billion on firewalls, virus scanners, and biometric
ID checkers last year, but one vital business asset remains woefully
hackable: employees. “Humans are the weakest link in the security chain,”
says Sharon Conheady, director of the U.K.’s First Defense Information
Security, who’ll teach corporate geeks at this summit how to deflect
“social engineering” swindles. These low-tech, highly effective scams
take advantage of people’s naturally trusting (read: gullible) behavior
to access sensitive data. So a trickster might call an employee
pretending to be an IT engineer and ask for passwords and user names,
or befriend smokers outside a building and follow them to their
offices. The take-home message? The paranoiacs (see November 6) are
right: Never talk to strangers. — TB
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