Expert at UAB cyber-security summit says cybercriminals

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Schemes by cyber criminals are growing increasingly more sophisticated, moving far beyond the old phishing schemes that plant malware that steals personal information, a computer security expert said Thursday.

UAB cyberfraud expert Gary Warner, center, speaks to attendees of a computer security conference at the school on Thursday.

Rod Rasmussen, president of Tacoma-based Internet Identity, said today’s cyber thieves are creating widespread havoc by going after e-mail service providers hired by major corporations including banks.

“They’re breaking into their systems and sending emails from a trusted source in order to find more victims,” Rasmussen told attendees of the UAB Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensics Research’s Cyber Summit 2012 on Thursday.

Rasmussen, whose firm advises companies across the country on Internet security and sponsors a scholarship for UAB’s students, sounded a warning.

“The bad guys have gotten smarter,” he said. “The only way we’re going to fight back is by working together.”

That theme was echoed by Jeff Laughton and Howard Ommert of Bank of America, who presented a workshop on how to mitigate threats to the banking industry. Cyber experts from UAB and Facebook and PayPal were among participants in the invitation-only event that attracted about 75 people, said

Rasmussen said teamwork between organizations such as UAB’s cyberfraud unit, Internet Identity, the FBI and companies like Bank of America that are battling online fraud is crucial.

“Too often we use the bear is chasing me strategy, feeling as long as I’m in front of the other guy I’ll be OK,” he said. “Well, there are a lot of bears out there. Running from the bear doesn’t work very well because there are a lot of bears out there. We’ve got to turn around and all shoot the bears.”

Rasmussen said gatherings like the one held at UAB are growing in popularity, as companies and universities are joining forces to fight off a growing wave of cyberfraud, a crime UAB officials say collectively cost American businesses $114 billion a year.