More and more employers are letting their staff members work from home.  There are numerous pluses to these types of arrangements.  However,  hackers and cyber criminals have figured out how to use these types of remote access arrangements for criminal purposes.  Nicole Perlroth reported on a study released yesterday by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); DHS worked with the Secret Service and others and identified a significant problem companies are now facing (www.nytimes.com; “Checking In From Home Leaves Entry For Hackers”; July 31).

As Ms. Perlroth reports, the DHS study found that hackers are scanning corporate systems for remote access software.  These remote access systems allow employees and outside contractors to access their companies corporate networks via an Internet connection.  What happens then? The hackers find the software and use high-speed programs that continuously guess the login credentials  and keep doing so until bingo!  they find one and hack into the system.

In her article, Ms. Perlroth writes that DHS found that once they’ve hacked into the system, the criminals use a type of malicious software called Backoff to steal payment information, such as credit and/or debit card numbers.  They steal those numbers off of the inshore cash register systems.  This information then is immediately sent to the hackers’ computers from which they sell the credit and debit card numbers.

Let’s hope that companies read the DHS report; learn lessons from it; and then work to confront and confound these hackers as much as possible.