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10:37 am, December 18, 2014

Cyber Security Report

National Security Correspondent J.J. Green has traveled three continents covering intelligence, terrorism, and security issues. From Afghanistan to Africa, Iraq to Ireland, there isn't anywhere J.J. won't go, nor anyone he won't talk with, to get the stories affecting the cyber security community.

Online shopping risks grow

Devices such as smartphones and tablets are being used more and more often for online shopping and the Center for Internet Security is warning that means the volume of attacks against them will increase as well. The "center" says every time you download an app, you open yourself to potential vulnerabilities. Their advice is to research those apps you plan to download to verify their legitimacy. Update all apps when notified and disable Bluetooth and Near Field Communications when not in use to reduce the risk of your data, such as a credit card number, being intercepted by a nearby device.

Companies need to know when they are hacked

Recently several large U.S. companies were hacked online and like other victims of similar attacks, they were not aware until well after the attack happened. In some cases it was months. Online security firm Mandiant says, often attacks are blamed on malware, but they say 46% of compromised machines have no malware on them. Mandiant says hackers can navigate through conventional safeguards easily leaving little or no trace.

Cyber Silver Lining

With so much gloom and doom about Cyber vulnerabilities, the Rand Corporation has some good news. In his book Cyberdeterrence and Cyber war, Martin Libicki puts it into perspective --suggesting Cyberspace has its own laws; for instance, it is easy to hide identities and difficult to predict or even understand battle damage, and attacks deplete themselves quickly. But the overall message is… cyber war is nothing so much as the manipulation of ambiguity.

Resolve to protect your computer

What's the best thing you can do for your computer? Make sure that it's secure. Kaspersky Lab says you should don't invite bugs and malware in by allowing your computer systems to become outdated. The security company urges you to install operating system and application updates as soon as they're available. It also suggests using your software's built-in systems, and don't ignore the prompts they give you to update your computer security.

#SEA strikes again

The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) said hacked into Skype's social media accounts last week. Now the Internet calling service confirms it had been hit with a "cyber-attack" but said no user information was compromised. SEA posted a tweet posted on Skype's official Twitter feed that read: "Don't use Microsoft emails (hotmail, outlook). They are monitoring your accounts and selling the data to the governments. More details soon. #SEA"

Mandiant Sold

Mandiant, the Virginia-based cyber-security firm than pinpointed a hacking unit in Shanghai that experts believe is part of the Chinese Army's cyber command has been sold. FireEye said that the purchase of privately held Mandiant would increase its ability to stop attacks in their early stages. The company valued the deal at nearly $1 billion.

Private sector warned about employee snooping

Companies planning to bring aboard some new staff should rethink their secret use of social networking Web sites, like Facebook, to screen new recruits. William Stoughton of North Carolina State University, lead author of a study published in Springer's Journal of Business and Psychology, indicated in his work this practice is viewed by some as a breach of privacy and could create a negative impression of the company for potential employees. This type of spying could even lead to law suits.

The Air Force is hiring

Budget cuts notwithstanding, the U.S. Air Force plans to add 1,000 new personnel between 2014 and 2016 as part of its cyber security units. The 24th Air Force at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas is home to the U.S. Air Force cyber command. With a budget of about $1 billion and a staff of roughly 400 military and civilian personnel, the command oversees about 6,000 cyber defense personnel throughout the Air Force.

Ever hear of jail-mail?

You've heard of email and snail mail - but what about jail mail? It is something that will soon be on the way to some inmates at the Pasco County Jail in Florida. Sheriff Chris Nocco says 77 kiosks are being set up in the jail housing units. The set-ups will let inmates read and send email to those who have approved accounts. The sheriff says there will be no cost to taxpayers for the service. While inmates will be able to get email and photos, they will only be able to send email, not photos. And - as is the case with regular mail, deputies will be monitoring inmates email.

Top intelligence advisor resigns

A longtime adviser to the U.S. Director of National Intelligence has resigned after the government learned he has worked since 2010 as a paid consultant for Huawei Technologies Ltd., the Chinese technology company the U.S. has condemned as an espionage threat. Theodore H. Moran, a professor at Georgetown University, had served since 2007 as adviser to the intelligence director's advisory panel on foreign investment in the United States. Moran also was an adviser to the National Intelligence Council, a group of 18 senior analysts and policy experts who provide U.S. spy agencies with judgments on important international issues.

China warned about cyber espionage

National Security Advisor Susan Rice has sent a strong message to the Chinese. During a speech at Georgetown University, she said, "Cyber-enabled economic espionage hurts China as well as the U.S., because American businesses are increasingly concerned about the costs of doing business in China." U.S. Intelligence officials have been sounding alarms about China's high tempo of economic espionage for more than a decade.

Stuxnet multiplies

You've heard of Stuxnet --the destructive computer virus unleashed on Iran's nuclear facilities. It was believed to be the world's first cyber weapon. But now we're learning that it has a twin --and the twin actually came first and started eating away at Iran's nuclear facility at Natanz years before the more public version we learned about in 2010. The bad news for Iran's nuclear programmers is that it's not really clear how broad the Stuxnet family is.

Cryptolocker raises concern

CYPTOLOCKER is a type of Ransomware that restricts access to infected computers and requires victims to pay a ransom in order to rescue their computers from criminals who take them over. It's so sophisticated that one US police force was hit by the virus and forced to pay a ransom using a new virtual currency called bit coins. Pfishing emails --which look legitimate, with subject lines like "payroll or package delivery" are the usual method of delivery.

Intel and Insurance join forces

Every day it seems there's a new Cyber Security threat. Everything from ransom ware to zero day issues. Cyber security insurance has been the way that companies have tried to offset the risk of online attacks and data loss, but the insurers were missing the information they needed to convince potential clients to buy their products. But now threat intelligence is helping them gauge the risk that potential customers might encounter.

He did it to make room for change

A self-described "hacktivist" will spend 10 years in prison for illegally accessing computer systems of law enforcement agencies and government contractors. Before hearing his sentence, an unrepentant Jeremy Hammond told a federal judge that his goal was to expose injustices by the private intelligence industry when he joined forces with Anonymous. "Yes I broke the law, but I believe sometimes laws must be broken in order to make room for change," he said. The Chicago computer whiz and college dropout insisted his hacking days are over but added, "I still believe in hacktivism as a form of civil disobedience."

The "splinter net" could be coming

Google is warning U.S. lawmakers that U.S. spying operations risk fracturing the open Internet into a "splinter net" that could hurt American business. In the first public testimony before Congress by a major technology company since former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden disclosed top secret surveillance programs, Google said it should be allowed to provide the public more information about government demands for user data.

Adobe breach worse than reported

Adobe Systems Inc. says that the scope of a cyber-security breach disclosed nearly a month ago was much worse than initially reported. They now say attackers obtained data on more than 38 million customer accounts. The software maker also said that hackers had stolen part of the source code to Photoshop editing software that is widely used by professional photographers.

Singapore on alert

Singapore's government is on heightened alert for cyber-attacks after threats from claiming to be from international hacking collective Anonymous defaced several web sites in the city-state and threatened further action. "Government agencies have been on heightened vigilance and have enhanced the security of their IT systems in response to the declared threats against the government's ICT infrastructure," the Infocommunications Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) said in a statement.

Cyber Attack hits Haifa

Israel's military chief Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz says computer sabotage is a major concern and he warned a sophisticated cyber-attack could one day bring the nation to a standstill. In fact, a month before his address, a major artery in Israel's national road network in the northern city of Haifa was shut down because of a cyber-attack by a Trojan horse. Key operations were knocked out of commission for two days causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.

Alleged Hacker in Custody

A British man has been arrested in England and charged by the United States and Britain with infiltrating U.S. government computer systems, including those run by the military, to steal confidential data and disrupt operations, the Associated Press reports. U.S. prosecutors said the alleged hacker, Lauri Love, infiltrated thousands of computer systems including those of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. space agency NASA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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