February 27, 2006

When Hollywood comes calling, you answer. Lawrence Levine has spent the past 10 years working with the banking industry with his managed security services firm, Lincolnshire, Ill.-based Securepipe, of which he is cofounder and chairman. From that experience, he was able to contribute as a technical adviser—and appear as an extra—in the Harrison Ford thriller "Firewall."

But where the movie offers a Hollywood ending, Levine sounds a far more cautious tone when it comes to the real world. "In terms of general computer security, we're losing. There are some valiant efforts, but it's a really tough battle right now," he says. "The amount of resources we're going up against are virtually limitless. But we do see progress."

For the most part, bank examiners are stepping up to the challenge, Levine asserts. "The examiners have gotten much better educated, asking the right questions rather than the ones that are written down for them," he says. "At the same time, the bankers have raised their awareness as well."

Now, "Firewall" may raise the awareness of the general public about security-related issues in banking. But despite Levine's best efforts, the movie isn't exactly true-to-life. "There's only one flaw," he notes. "The [bad] guy would never set foot in anyone's house, or even in the country, if he didn't have to."

But that's Hollywood, Levine concedes. "Having [the bad guys] invade someone's home and take the children hostage makes for a much better movie than watching a bunch of geeks drinking too much caffeine and trying to hack into systems," he says. --Ivan Schneider

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