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Cyber Spies and Their Hunters

"The New E-Spionage Threat," our Apr. 21 Cover Story on digital spying, drew intense reactions. The article reported on classified government operations aimed at hunting down cyber intruders, in part by tracing—to a source in China—malicious software embedded in a fake e-mail sent to a defense consultant. Some readers were "appalled" that we published information on code-named U.S. security efforts. On computer-security blogs, meanwhile, techies wondered how government computers could be so vulnerable to intrusion. Others, including some at a recent House Armed Services Committee meeting, said the story was a wake-up call about cyber espionage, a threat we think the nation will be hearing more about.

In a perfect world, we wouldn't need locks on our doors or police on our streets or armies to protect our way of life—or a foolproof way to protect all our valuable information. It is said, in the South, that any house with a wooden structure will eventually be host to termites. Similarly, when your computer is connected to the whole world, any conceivable protection (multiple passwords, firewalls) will last only until human termites wiggle in. It just takes a clever enough mind combined with sufficiently intense cupidity or malevolence.

Burt Bronk

ABINGTON, MD.

I'm appalled that BusinessWeek would publish an article specifically naming certain code-word [government] programs. Way to undermine government security. What happened to responsible journalism?

Screen name: LSB

I cannot believe you would publish a report with classified operational names. Are you guys idiots? Do you really think adding that bit of information provides me with critical information?

Screen name:

Red White and Blue

Your investigation is a wake-up call for many in the business community who are pivotal in the fight for future American jobs, exports, and retention of competitive technological advantages.

Not only can the federal government minimize the damage that a cyber war can potentially create, protecting its everyday dealings; it can also play a vital role in partnering with software and hardware concerns that supply the public and private sector.

Screen name: David Wachter

Bash the Indians for outsourcing. Bash the Chinese for espionage. We've got to come to terms with the world we are living in. BW should do an article on how the U.S. does espionage and mucks it up around the world. Case in point: Iraq.

Screen name: JaM

I just did a quick lookup on my home PC, and I have at least two programs on it that look for Poison Ivy [a piece of computer code designed to steal sensitive data from computer files]: ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite and Comodo BOClean Anti-Malware. Both are updated daily. Comodo is free, by the way.

How much of this problem is being caused by relentless cyber snoops, and how much is being permitted by lazy and ignorant personal computer owners and network administrators?

Screen name: More to the story

Why is this news? Everyone does it.

Screen name: Dante

And the U.S. is totally innocent of all cyber spying, I suppose?

Screen name: Sven

The solution is simple: No computer with national secrets on it—or with access to [these secrets]—should be connected to the Internet! And especially, no one should be checking e-mail and making PowerPoint presentations on such computers.

Screen name: Justin Anderson

Growing Older, Getting Thrifty

Regarding "The Spending Mirage" (News, Apr. 21): Has anyone ever considered that baby boomers may be spending less as they get older? I know I have (as a boomer). In fact, I am trying to rid myself of a lot of the "stuff" I have accumulated over the years. I also eat less junk and processed food, drink less alcohol, and am more careful about purchases. And [I was doing] this long before the current financial crisis.

Screen name: Anne

The economic boom was fueled by easy financing. Now the financing has dried up, interest rates have rocketed upward, and we have to pay off what we bought.

Screen name: Squeezebox

Making Sense of Mark Penn's Missteps

Mark Penn's actions as CEO of Burson-Marsteller underscore a problem rampant among all the major public relations firms ("A Spinmeister in Need of Spin," News, Apr. 21). Many, if not all, of these firms are riddled with direct conflicts of interest that they often withhold from their clients. The major public relations firms need to be more transparent about these conflicts.

Screen name: Steve

A so-called error in judgment is casting the industry [and Burson] in a most unfavorable light. Shouldn't organizations hold senior officers to the highest standards of ethical behavior and make them accountable for their actions? If we simply accept and forgive monumental lapses in judgment at the very top of our profession, what does that say about the moral authority of our business? Trust is the only real asset that we trade on day in and day out in the PR business.

Bob Kornecki

EVANSTON, ILL.

'Too Much Firepower' at Amazon?

If e-retailers like Amazon (AMZN) are offering computing on tap, doesn't it indicate that they have overinvested in technology ("Amazon Takes on IBM (IBM), Oracle (ORCL), and HP, (HPQ)" News, Apr. 21)? I am convinced Amazon (AMZN) has too much firepower—more than it needs to run its business. Its emphasis on its corporate computing market looks like a positive spin on a rather poor capital investment strategy.

Screen name: Beejat

The Pros and Cons of Corporate Controls

I welcome the corporate controls on employee spending ("You've Been Pre-Rejected," News, Apr. 21). Every excessive expense paid out is money out of my pocket when it comes to raises. Multiply the excess by 25 to 100 people and over the course of a year those amounts really add up.

Screen name: John

I suspect that parents will love this feature since it allows them to give their children cards with the security of a credit card and be sure spending limits are kept in check. It's also good for anyone living in a high-crime area, since it can restrict many fraudulent purchases if a card is stolen.

Screen name: Holly Garfield

My worry about this is the burden it's going to put on managers. Who wants to be updated constantly about the 25 salesmen you have out there and what they're spending in real time? Is that kind of babysitting going to be the expectation [for bosses]?

Screen name: Steve


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