Straight outta cyberpunk: Company A is a brokerage house. Company B, a media organization specializing in up-to-the-second financial and world news, access to which is key for A’s traders. So, B sells specialized terminals to provide all this information.
And reporters at B can track each and every login. They can tell what information was accessed, when the access happened, who accessed the information (by name), and how long they read a particular story.
Company “A”, by the way, is Goldman Sachs (and many other financial organizations, including the Treasury) and “B” is Bloomberg. (Adding another layer of surreality, Bloomberg is owned by Mayor Bloomberg, mayor of New York City.) How serious is this? According to The Guardian:
More than 300,000 of the world’s most influential people in finance including top bankers, treasury officials and hedge fund managers have access to a Bloomberg terminal…Access to the types of information those users are looking up would give a reporter invaluable insight.
Reportedly, a Bloomberg reporter knew a Goldman Sachs employee had left the company, because he hadn’t logged in for a significant length of time. For companies (and government organizations) dependent on secrecy, this is a potential disaster.
Inadvertent disclosures of sensitive data are par for the course in a networked world. (As yesterday’s story showed.) Computer networks are designed to transfer information, sequestering that same information is difficult.
Still, it’s a whole different ballgame when the same company selling you information can spy on you. Secure password techniques do nothing to protect you against that level of penetration.
If there is a takeaway, it’s this: be careful who you trust.