Gartner analyst defends Y2K security prediction

A recent Gartner Group study that claimed Y2K might ultimately lead to a $US1 billion theft drew some scepticism from a US congressional subcommittee.

"This is a serious assertion that raises more questions than it answers," said Mark Udall ( a Colorado Democrat), who warned that such assertions "could undermine public trust" in the US financial system.

Joseph Pucciarelli, the Gartner analyst who prepared the report, said the prediction -- that there will be at least one reported electronic theft exceeding $US1 billion by 2004 -- was reviewed by 300 of the company's clients, many of whom believe "the risk of theft was even higher than I had proposed."

Pucciarelli testified today before the US house subcommittee on government management information and technology, which is looking into the computer security threat posed by year 2000 work.

Gartner Group believes that Y2K has increased the potential for fraud, especially if an unscrupulous year 2000 contractor builds a secret back door into a company's system.

But Pucciarelli also said a $US1 billion theft prediction represents only a tiny part of the $US11 trillion in annual volume of money exchanged electronically. "In this context, a billion seems somewhat less significant," he said.

Congress isn't considering any legislation that would specifically address security concerns. But the current hearing was part of an ongoing review by a number of congressional committees on information security.

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