Tech-security legal guru expects growth of fraud

May 22, 2006


Bart Lazar scares me. He gives me the heebie-jeebies. Sometimes after talking to Lazar I can't sleep at night.

Looking at Lazar, you wouldn't expect him to be threatening. The 45-year-old intellectual property law partner at Seyfarth Shaw stands 5 feet 10 inches, and weighs 195. He looks more like Dan Aykroyd in "Ghost Busters" than a mugger.

It's the stories Lazar tells about tech security breaches that get the hair on the back of my neck up like the shower scene from "Psycho."

Lazar is one of our town's top tech-security legal gurus. He represents companies coping with IT security breaches, and tries to help others prevent them. He's a hot ticket on the lecture circuit coaching senior executives on the legal ins and outs of tech security.

Lazar disguises the stories he tells to protect the identities of the guilty and the innocent. But the vignettes are juicer than anything facing Teri Hatcher on "Desperate Housewives" or Kiefer Sutherland on "24."

Myriad reasons to hack

Lazar represents companies where angry employees hack computer systems to steal the identity of a disliked senior exec to defame him. He handles cases of extortion and misappropriated trade secrets. One client suffered hackers who stole company information to support an identity theft business. There was the time an employee read his bosses' e-mails to find company secrets, and pass them along. There was even a group of IT execs who tried to hold their company hostage to avoid an outsourcing deal.

I called Lazar last week because I was out in San Jose, Calif. I feared someone had snapped a cell-phone photo of my driver's license. If true, how could I protect myself from identity theft?

Says Lazar, "They could take your driver's license number, and merge it with publicly held information, and get a credit card. I've seen credit cards issued in people's dog's names. It's unlikely, but stay alert."

Lazar urged me to watch my credit-card statements. He suggested I request a free credit report at (877) 322-8228 or online at

"You're entitled to one free credit report annually," Lazar says. "You can also place a fraud alert by contacting the three credit reporting organizations:, or"

Lazar believes security issues will increase because our work force is increasingly mobile and equipped with more portable devices.

Data on laptops worry Lazar. He suggests corporate IT execs request vendors encrypt their customer data, and be wary of allowing sensitive data on laptops.

"Expect more security legislation," adds Lazar, who encourages executives to "get ready and get used to it."

Lazar tells CIOs to "understand what's driving legislation, and design systems, policies and procedures that meet those underlying principles."

How's business? Lazar says there's plenty of computer fraud out there to keep him occupied. Unfortunately it's a growth industry.

Argonne @ 60

Robert Rosner, Argonne National Laboratory director and University of Chicago astrophysicist, headlines Wednesday morning's Tech Forum at the U. of C.'s Gleacher Center.

"We want to kick off Argonne's 60th birthday by highlighting Bob Rosner's scientific vision and ambition for the Laboratory and Argonne's ongoing commitment to promote collaborative activities," says U. of C. Associate Vice President Robert Rosenberg.

Rosenberg wants to highlight the breadth of resources and science at Argonne and make corporate connections that lead to new entrepreneurial ventures.

Incoming U. of C. President Robert Zimmer is creating positive buzz. Word is he and Argonne Director Rosner fit like a hand and a glove.

That could help assure that the U. of C. maintains management of Argonne. The U. of C.'s contract is being reviewed by the Department of Energy.

"Zimmer is a terrific choice," says U. of C. entrepreneurship professor Steve Kaplan. "Expect he will do good things."

Bits & Bytes

Also celebrating an anniversary, its 10th on Thursday, is the U. of C.'s Edward Kaplan New Venture Challenge, one of the region's top entrepreneurship competitions.

The competition is funded by Rogers Park native and Zebra Technologies founder and CEO Ed Kaplan.

Michael Krauss is a Chicago area tech writer and consultant.


 ©2006 Marion Consulting Partners