The Top Ten Security Threats for 2008 (Part 10)

Starting on my next five top cyber security threats for 2008, here is another serious threat:

      — Criminal manipulation and subversion of financial markets.

In one of our earlier posts, I mentioned the subversion of democratic political processes as a top ten cybersecurity threat for 2008, which included information warfare techniques applied to elections and other political processes.  

The top ten cybersecurity threat in this post, criminal manipulation and subversion of financial markets, is very similar to the threat of the subversion of democratic processes.  Criminals can easily use powerful botnets, blogs, social networking, spam, RSS and other cyber technologies to target and manipulate financial markets with pump-and-dump and similar fraudulent schemes.

Not only do fraudsters, unethical brokers and corrupt analysts inject good news into cyberspace to illegally inflate the market value of equities; they also poison cyberspace with doom-and-glum messages to deflate market values.   This threat poses a serious threat to investors as well as the overall integrity of financial markets.    Indeed, this threat may be used to subvert the democratic process, indirectly attacking our of the most critical infrastructures globally, the financial markets.

Bad news travels fast and the effects are furious.  Just look at E*Trade and the effect each analyst has had on their stock price recently.   One analyst talks about how good a new development is for E*Trade, stocks rise.  Another analyst talks about how bad the same development is for E*Trade, the stocks plunges.   Fortunes are made and lost on news blurbs that rise, fall and fade away, like the light of fireflys, in cyberspace.  This is a very real cybersecurity threat now, in 2008 and beyond.

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