Cybersecurity Update 24.01.2014.


Homeland Security Makes Cybersecurity A Managed Service

The Department of Homeland Security’s Einstein 3 intrusion prevention system, launched last summer, raised the bar for security technology capable of operating at carrier-grade network levels, rather than just within the enterprise.

Einstein is a managed security service delivered through Internet service providers that serve executive-branch civilian agencies. Through a public-private collaboration, DHS provides custom signatures to federal agencies’ ISPs to block malicious traffic, both incoming and outgoing.

The Inside Story of Tor, the Best Internet Anonymity Tool the Government Ever Built

Last year, Edward Snowden turned over to the Guardian, a British newspaper, some 58,000 classified U.S. government documents. Just a fraction of the files have been made public, but they outline the National Security Agency’s massive information-collection system. They’ve thrown light onto the methods of an arm of the government used to working in the shadows and started an intense debate over national security and personal liberty. One of the earliest and most explosive revelations was the existence of Prism, a top-secret program giving the NSA direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, and other U.S. Internet companies.

Snowden himself remains something of a mystery even as the U.S. government attempts to obtain his return from Russia, where he’s in hiding, and very possibly jail him for the rest of his life. As an infrastructure analyst for the NSA, he came to understand at a high level how information moves around the Internet. Snowden almost certainly relied on one very specific and powerful tool to cover his tracks. In photographs he’s often with his laptop, and on the cover of his computer, a sticker shows a purple and white onion: the “o” in the word “Tor.”

Congress needs to get serious about cybersecurity

TENS OF millions of Americans were recently exposed to a rude shock: theft of their credit card numbers, names and, in some cases, phone numbers and e-mail addresses. They were simply shopping at Target stores and had no idea that when they swiped a credit card at the cash register, they turned over private information to thieves.

This ought not be viewed as just another bad shopping day in the digital age. The massive Target data breach and ones like it at other stores are warnings of a persistent and deepening cybertheft problem that needs to be confronted. Computer networks are vital to American capitalism and society, but they remain surprisingly vulnerable to thieves and hijackers. Law enforcement does not have the resources to stop them; the private sector is growing more aware

Shutting Down the Power Grid Is Way Easier Than You Think

If you’ve been paying even the slightest bit of attention to cybersecurity, you know that the security of power grids is a top concern. It’s kind of a disturbing threat, given that almost every other critical infrastructure supporting modern life is dependent on keeping the juice flowing. Well bad news, cyber worrywarts. New research shows there’s even more for you to fret about.

A new study published by West Point’s Network Science Center (PDF) shows how hackers can cause blackouts by targeting a relative handful of small substations — the often-overlooked and poorly-defended parts of a power grid. The research, authored by Paulo Shakarian, Hansheng Lei and Roy Lindelauf and sponsored by the Army Research Office, argues that this kind of a strategy can cause a chain reaction of power overloading known a cascading failure.

What Americans should fear in cyberspace

A recent Pew poll found that Americans are more afraid of a cyber attack than they are of Iranian nuclear weapons, the rise of China or climate change. Such fears are not only out of proportion to risk; if they take hold, they could threaten the positive gains of the digital age.

Certainly there are growing threats in the cyber world, and the stakes are high. But there is also a high level of misinformation and plain old ignorance driving the fear. Despite the Internet now enabling us to run down the answers to almost any question, a number of myths have emerged about online security and what it means for us offline. The result is that some threats are overblown and overreacted to, while other quite legitimate ones are ignored..

Russia hacked hundreds of Western, Asian companies: security firm

A U.S. cybersecurity firm says it has gathered evidence that the Russian government spied on hundreds of American, European and Asian companies, the first time Moscow has been linked to cyber attacks for alleged economic – rather than political – gains.

According to the firm, CrowdStrike, the victims of the previously unreported cyber espionage campaign include energy and technology firms, some of which have lost valuable intellectual property.

americas-private sector

Shortage of over a million cyber security experts globally: Cisco

Even as 2013 was marked by an unprecedented growth in malicious traffic, firms globally are grappling with a shortage of over a million cyber security professionals as they try to monitor and secure networks, a study by Cisco said.

According to the networking solutions major, overall vulnerability and threat levels reached their highest in 2013, ever since it began tracking in May 2000.

Exclusive: Cybercrime firm says uncovers six active attacks on U.S. merchants

A cybercrime firm says it has uncovered at least six ongoing attacks at U.S. merchants whose credit card processing systems are infected with the same type of malicious software used to steal data from Target Corp.

Andrew Komarov, chief executive of the cybersecurity firm IntelCrawler, told Reuters that his company has alerted law enforcement, Visa Inc and intelligence teams at several large banks about the findings. He said payment card data was stolen in the attacks, though he didn’t know how much.

Worst passwords of 2013: ‘Password’ is no longer the top choice – but what is?

In news that will have computer security experts celebrating and shaking their heads, it seems that the most popular password is no longer ‘password’. It’s ‘123456’.

This is according to an annual survey from mobile software developers SplashData, who have collated a massive list of the most popular passwords used online from the data revealed by high profile hacks in 2013.

The main source for this year’s list was the cyberattack that hit Adobe in October, a hack that was originally thought to have targeted 2.9 million customers but was later revised to 38 million.

Online Trust Alliance Finds Data Breaches Spiked to Record Level in 2013

The Online Trust Alliance (OTA), the non-profit with the mission to enhance online trust, user empowerment and innovation, today recommended a series of best practices to help prevent online data breaches and other exploits, in collaboration with high-profile brands including American Greetings Interactive, AVG, Microsoft, Publishers Clearing House, Symantec and TRUSTe. These recommendations, released today in OTA’s 2014 Data Protection & Breach Readiness Guide, were accompanied by several eye-opening statistics.

Leveraging preliminary year-end data from the Open Security Foundation and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, the OTA estimated in its guide that over 740 million records were exposed in 2013, making it the worst year in terms of data breaches recorded to date. And yet, after analyzing approximately 500 breaches over the past year, the OTA determined that 89 percent of all breach incidents were avoidable had basic security controls and best practices been enforced.

Russian teen misidentified in Target breach, expert says

Cyber security firm that fingered a Russian teen for the malware used to steal 70 million Target customers’ credit card numbers appears to be backing off, but not quite backing down.

Last week, California-based IntelCrawler named 17-year-old Sergey Tarasov as the kid behind the massive breach, saying he had “roots” in St. Petersburg and goes by the online nickname “ree4.” Tarasov was subsequently identified in numerous media reports. But in an update to its report released Monday, IntelCrawler said another author crafted the code, though it still accused Tarasov of playing a role in the breach.

Cyber criminals hack a REFRIGERATOR: Will the ‘Internet of Things’ create a new bot army for the spammers?

Home automation, once relegated to the timing of porch lights, can now be used to control almost anything in the house.

From the kettle in your kitchen to the lock on your front door, nearly every item in the home can be connected to the internet.

Now, California-based security group, Proofpoint, has uncovered the first wide-scale hack involving television sets and at least one fridge


India, Brazil set tech initiatives: cloud, internet, cybersecurity, public services, public empowerment

The global stage, India and Brazil continue to be markets of interest for businesses looking for growth opportunities, particularly in the tech sector. So it’s always interesting to hear about policy initiatives regarding technology and innovation in those countries.  In India, the chief minister for the state of Gujarat and also prime ministerial hopeful Narendra Modi outlined his ICT industry vision for the country, while the Brazilian minister for science, technology and innovation (MCTI), Marco Antonio Raupp, announced Brazil’s technology policy priorities for 2014.

Both the Brazilian priorities and the Indian minister’s vision point to a focus on innovation related to cloud and internet, with a key attention to cybersecurity, public services, and public citizen empowerment. These are not very different to many emerging countries’ agendas, but in India and Brazil, these public statements demonstrate the higher place on the political agenda for technology and innovation.

Syrian Electronic Army hits Microsoft again

PRO-ASSAD HACKTIVIST GROUP the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) has hit Microsoft again and taken over one of its blogs.

Earlier the hacktivist group broke into Redmond email systems and Twitter accounts. Although Microsoft looked to have wrested back control last week, the group said that it was not done with the company. Last night it did what it promised and hit the firm again.

It hit the Microsoft Office blog first, and put a flag on it. After that the group began posting messages to Twitter that showed the reach of its access.

Big Web Crash in China: Experts Suspect Great Firewall

The story behind what may have been the biggest Internet failure in history involves an unlikely cast of characters, including a little-known company in a drab building in Wyoming and the world’s most elite army of Internet censors a continent away in China.

On Tuesday, most of China’s 500 million Internet users were unable to load websites for up to eight hours. Nearly every Chinese user and Internet company, including major services like Baidu and, was affected.

Technology experts say China’s own Great Firewall — the country’s vast collection of censors and snooping technology used to control Internet traffic in and out of China — was most likely to blame, mistakenly redirecting the country’s traffic to several sites normally blocked inside China, some connected to a company based in the Wyoming building

Israeli expert seeks ethics code for cyber warfare

Israel will take part in a cyber arms race with its enemies, but it’s not clear which attacks will be permissible in the legal regime that’s slowly taking shape, writes a former deputy military advocate general.

“Israel faces a complex and challenging period in which we can expect both a cyber arms race with the participation of state and non-state entities, and a massive battle between East and West over the character of the future legal regime,” writes Col. Sharon Afek in a study crafted as part of his research at the National Defense College.

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