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Security on the www well nigh impossible

If you ever had doubts about how secure and safe use of the world wide web is - in whichever way - then confirmation that it is not, comes from the words of an FBI high-up in the area of cyber operations, as reported in this piece in The New Yorker.

"Richard McFeely, of the F.B.I., is a former insurance adjuster from Unionville, in eastern Pennsylvania horse country. He has a friendly face, meaty hands, and a folksy speaking style that doesn’t seem very F.B.I.-like. “Call me Rick,” he said, when I met him at his office, in Washington, coming around his wide desk and gesturing toward the soft furniture in the front part of the room.

McFeely, who is fifty-one, and whose official title is executive assistant director (“E.A.D.,” in office shorthand), oversees about sixty per cent of F.B.I. operations, including the Cyber Division: some one thousand agents, analysts, forensic specialists, and computer scientists. The bureau has made several high-profile takedowns in recent years, including the dismantling of the Coreflood botnet, a network of millions of infected “zombie” computers, or bots, controlled by a Russian hacking crew.

“But we are just touching the tip of the surface in terms of what companies and what government agencies are at the most risk,” McFeely said, shaking his big head ruefully. “We simply don’t have the resources to monitor the mammoth quantity of intrusions that are going on out there.” Shawn Henry, McFeely’s predecessor at the F.B.I., told me, “When I started in my career, in the late eighties, if there was a bank robbery, the pool of suspects was limited to the people who were in the vicinity at the time. Now when a bank is robbed the pool of suspects is limited to the number of people in the world with access to a five-hundred-dollar laptop and an Internet connection. Which today is two and a half billion people.” And instead of stealing just one person’s credit card, you can steal from millions of people at the same time."

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