Margaret Harding | February 26, 2012

Western Pennsylvania Firms Strive to Provide Cyber Security Solutions

Western Pennsylvania firms strive to provide cyber security solutions

As cyber attackers grow more sophisticated, so do the efforts to thwart them.

Several companies and researchers in Western Pennsylvania work to identify threats to cyber security and recommend precautions that businesses, consumers and government can take.

Wombat Security, a Carnegie Mellon spinoff company, trains workers to be security-savvy. Businesses hire Wombat to simulate phishing attacks as a way to teach employees what to be wary of.

Phishing involves tricking people into downloading a virus or submitting sensitive information. Phishing attacks have evolved to more targeted attempts in which potential intruders use information from social networking sites to make the attacks appear believable, said Joe Ferrara, CEO of the Oakland-based company.

"They're going after individuals that may have access to the types of data that they want, or access to systems that they want to get into," Ferrara said. "The more relevant they can make the attacks, the more likely someone is going to do what they want them to do."

Wombat uses simulation software to show employees the forms a phishing attack might take.

"Employees are going to get attacked, whether it's by the company for training purposes or it's by a criminal," Ferrara said. "You'd much rather have your employees being trained in what to look for and how to avoid these things.

"You get people who don't think they're vulnerable. They never believe they'll fall for the attack, but a significant portion will fall for it."

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