January 10, 2022

Do you Know Captain Zap?

By Jared Patton

Ian Murphy, alias Captain Zap, was the first person in history to be arrested, charged, and convicted of a felony cybercrime. In 1981, Murphy and three friends hacked into the servers of a young AT&T corporation, changing internal clocks to alter metered billing rates. This was a simple task considering that the concept of cybersecurity was nonexistent at the time. Thanks to Zap & Co, afternoon callers were getting late-night call discounts and evening callers were being charged exorbitant fees. Zap’s exploits formed the basis for the 1992 film Sneakers, in which a group of hackers are unknowingly recruited into a cyber conspiracy.

When caught and convicted, Zap was sentenced to 1000 hours of community service and 2.5 years of probation. Happy ending (by today’s prosecutorial standards) and intrigue aside, what Zap’s exploits helped open the door for was certainly no Hollywood thriller. Today, global cybercrime damages are predicted to cost up to $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, with almost 50% of business PCs and 53% of consumer PCs that are infected with malware expected to be reinfected the same year.

Simply put, cybercrime is about as old as the consumer internet itself, and its growth has been accelerating at a similar pace. Every consumer and business should ensure they have the proper safeguards in place to protect their assets and customers, but for some types of businesses, the danger is so much more real.

For utilities, who face not only potential attacks from opportunistic local hackers, but also have to contend with international hackers sponsored by hostile governments, the only remedy is proactivity and 24/7 vigilance. Meridian Cooperative’s cybersecurity analysts specialize in protecting utilities and understand that the constant battle between malicious actors and security researchers is no game. Millions of people depend on the services provided by their local utilities to live their lives and we don’t take that role lightly.

In this fight, our team is your team thanks to Meridian’s Managed Security Services (MSS), which provides 24/7/365 network monitoring, asset discovery, event management, and intrusion detection for utilities. Contact [email protected] to Learn more about MSS and all the ways Meridian Cooperative can help protect your utility from bad actors.

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