September 03, 2010, 12:02 PM — Federal prosecutors this week charged nine former Sprint employees with fraud and aggravated identity theft after learning they had cloned customer cell phone numbers to make $15 million worth of calls. According to the complaint from federal prosecutors, the individuals who have been charged worked at Sprint stores in the Bronx, Bergen, N.J., and Tampa, Fla., and used company computers to get confidential information about thousands of customers. The data was used to create the so-called 'clone' cell phones. Of the $15 million worth of calls, a large percentage of them were international calls, said prosecutors.
According to Randall Trzeciak, Insider Threat Team Lead, Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute CERT Program, malicious insider activity is on the increase. CERT has been tracking insider threat cases since 2001. According to the most recent annual 2010 CyberSecurity Watch Survey, research CERT releases with CSO Magazine, the most costly or damaging attacks an organization experiences are caused by insiders. The survey found 51% of respondents who experienced a cyber security event were victims of an insider attack. Motivations range from financial gain to anger among employees (See also: Security blunders 'dumber than dog snot')
"It's hard to know what employees are thinking," said Trzeciak. "In our analysis of fraud-related events, there is often some financial difficulty on part of individual involved. There are also cases of individuals who have some level of disgruntlement. There can be a supervisor issue, or maybe a negative workplace event, such as a demotion."
Amichai Shulman, CTO with web-security firm Imperva, said it is common for malicious insiders to become ensnared in a scheme after being approached by someone with connections to organized crime who stands to make a lot of money in the ruse and promises large financial gain to the employee.