Companies could lose billions of dollars through thefts directly linked to Year 2000 IT security failures, analysts have warned.
Ironically it could be the very person corporations have appointed to fix the Y2K problem who could be the culprit.
IT research company Gartner Group said the most likely perpetrator would be a highly skilled software engineer who has worked on Y2K remediation efforts and understands both computer systems and the underlying business processes.
Gartner analyst, Joe Pucciarelli explained: "Firstly, the world's financial systems have largely migrated to an electronically interconnected business model. According to statistics released by the National Automated Clearing House Association, $11 trillion in electronic transfers occurred in the US in 1998."
He added: "Secondly, virtually every line of code, every interconnection, and every computer involved in this process will have opened, tested and possibly changed to support Y2K remediation efforts."
Pucciarelli said that given the enormity of the Y2K task, the vast number of people assigned to fix the problem and human unpredictability, it is highly likely that at least one significant theft will occur over the next five years.
He added: "Y2K remediation, by definition, creates and increases the opportunity for theft and fraud. When you ask the king's soldiers to rebuild the king's castle, the royal army has more opportunity to steal."
He said the worst case scenario for theft would include a highly skilled software engineer involved with Y2K work and who feels unrecognised or unappreciated. The opportunity for theft may occur when a system crashes unexpectedly and a single software engineer will make the changes without the normal reviews, due diligence and oversight.
"The irony is that the person saving the day may end up pilfering the lot," he said.
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