By Jaikumar Vijayan
SEPTEMBER 12, 2005
Information security staffers at the American Red Cross, which was hit
last month by the Zotob worm, are working overtime to try to protect
the organization's networks against attacks amid surges in usage of
the networks following Hurricane Katrina.
In addition, the emergency relief agency has turned to the FBI and
others for help in preventing the spread of imitation Red Cross Web
sites set up by scam artists.
"The infrastructure is stretched, and I'm not sure we can tolerate
another outbreak" like the Zotob attack, said Ron Baklarz, the
Washington-based organization's chief information security officer.
Zotob, which took advantage of a hole in the plug-and-play component
in Microsoft Corp.'s Windows software, "saturated" sections of the Red
Cross' networks, making them inaccessible to users for several hours
last month, Baklarz said.
Consequently, the organization turned to security experts to "take a
second look at the security technologies we have in place today to
ensure that we have tuned them as best as we can under the increased
load," he said.
The Red Cross is implementing new technologies such as
intrusion-detection and -prevention systems -- some of them donated by
vendors -- to bolster network security, said Baklarz.
Also, not all of the Web sites that the Red Cross has created for
remote field offices set up to aid Katrina victims have a direct link
back to the organization's network.
"We are trying to put Web-based applications out there that can be
accessed without people coming to the corporate network," Baklarz said
The Red Cross is working with the FBI Internet Fraud Complaint Center
to shut down sites allegedly created by scam artists involved in
"We anticipated there would be a lot of fraudulent activity on the
Internet," Baklarz said. "We wanted to triage with the FBI and make
sure they saw examples of the legitimate e-mail that is sent out from
the Red Cross so that they know what to look for."
Appeals have also been sent to organizations such as Bethesda,
Md.-based SANS Institute and various government and nongovernmental
agencies to keep an eye out for anything that looks like a scam,
Baklarz said. As of last Thursday, about 20 such sites had been
identified and were being investigated by the FBI for possible
"Every time an event like this occurs, it brings out the best and the
worst in people," Baklarz said. "Unfortunately, in my position, I've
got to think about and respond to the worst."
Sept 16-18th, 2005
San Diego, California