Transnational cyber-extortion and its impact on U.S. business is a poorly understood and rarely discussed topic. A Carnegie Mellon University graduate student (that's me), in conjunction with InformationWeek Magazine, is conducting a study this summer to better understand businesses’ awareness of and preparedness against this threat. The study will generate statistics to better understand cyber extortion as a threat via a brief survey targeted at small and medium sized organizations that use information technology in the course of their business. Additionally, the study will create guidelines for businesses to protect themselves against this crime, and what to do in the case of an extortion attempt.

This is a call for participation in the brief survey portion of this study! The more survey participation gathered, the better our potential results and guidelines. I’d like to extend an invitation to participate to those in this forum. There are a *few* qualifications for participation:
- You are involved with an organization (non-governmental) with less than 10,000 employees.
- Your organization is based in the United States
- You have, or can forward this study to, a person(s) in your organization equipped to answer the survey

This is no small feat - the thesis results will be published, as well as presented during InformationWeek's annual conference this fall. Current advisory partners include the Pittsburgh Technology Council, InfraGard, the U.S. Secret Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (via the National Cyber Forensics Training Alliance).

You can learn more about the study, sign up to receive the completed results, and participate in the brief survey at:

The site contains a large FAQ regarding the protection of privacy of survey participants, use of the data, distribution of results, as well as a number of definitions regarding “cyber extortion”. If you have any questions or comments, please post them here, or drop me an email (via the contact info on the above website). The survey will be available through mid-August, and can be taken on-line, or downloaded from the site and submitted via email or postal service.

Thanks much for your assistance! - Greg B.