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2:48 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.

Author of the "blackhole" arrested'

Russian authorities have arrested a man believed to be responsible for distributing a notorious software kit known as "Blackhole" that is widely used by cyber criminals to infect PCs, according to a person familiar with the situation. A former Russian police detective in contact with Russia's federal government told Reuters that the suspect, who is known in hacking circles as "Paunch," had been arrested.

France upset with the NSA

The U.S. National Security Agency swept up 70.3 million French telephone records in a 30-day period, according to a newspaper report Monday that offered new details of the massive scope of a surveillance operation that has angered some of the country's closest allies. The French government summoned the U.S. ambassador for an explanation on Monday and renewed demands for talks on protection of personal data, as well as pledges that the surveillance would cease.

Hackers can do more than snoop

Homeland Security News is reporting that if hackers can steal a company's top-secret data, they can just as easily destroy a company's network. Richard Bejtlich, chief security officer for Mandiant, a cyber-security company, said not only are hackers getting into networks to steal huge amounts of intellectual property but they can also permanently erase data.

Cyber Security languishes during shutdown

Cyber security advocates are frustrated that new legislation is caught between a rock and a hard place. It's stuck in contentious debates over government surveillance and the government shutdown. NSA's highly skilled cyber workers have been told to stay home, weakening the nation's ability to protect critical cyber infrastructure. Thousands of people with PHDs and math whizzes and thousands of computer scientists have been sitting idly at home.

Adobe Source Code stolen

Kelly Jackson Higgins wrote in her "Hacking The Adobe Breach" column, "At first glance, the massive breach at Adobe that was revealed last week doesn't neatly fit the profile of a pure cybercrime attack." She said not only did the bad guys steal customer data and payment info, but they also got ahold of the company's source code for Adobe's ColdFusion, Acrobat, and Reader software. Criminal investigators are looking into whether it was an accident or they deliberately went after the source code.

Britain pulls plug on spy cans

Officials say that an advertising firm must immediately stop using its network of high-tech trash cans to track people walking through London's financial district. The City of London Corporation says it has demanded Renew pull the plug on the program, which measures the Wi-Fi signals emitted by smartphones to follow commuters as they pass the garbage cans.

Security leaks could affect legislation

Recent revelations about secret U.S. surveillance programs could significantly impede progress on negotiations over new laws and regulations meant to beef up the country's defenses against the growing threat of cyber-attacks. Current and former cyber security officials say they worry the ongoing disclosures about secret National Security Agency spying programs by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden could trigger knee-jerk reactions by Congress or the private sector.

How does DHS respond to Cyber incidents?

How does DHS detect and respond to malicious cyber activity. DHS also operates a cyber-information coordination center, the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), and several operational units. These units respond to incidents and provide technical assistance to information system operators. The NCCIC coordinates the information collected through these channels to create a common operating picture for cyber communities across all levels of government and the private sector.

Is your computer vulnerable?

How do you know if your computer is vulnerable to cyber-attack? USCERT The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team. says many computers are sold with software already loaded. Whether installed by a computer manufacturer, operating system maker, Internet Service Provider, or by a retail store, USCERT says the first step in assessing the vulnerability of your computer is to find out what software is installed and how one program will interact with another. Unfortunately, it is not practical for most people to perform this level of analysis.

Understanding DHS's role in cyber security

What is DHS's role in cyber security. DHS uses intrusion detection tools to monitor .gov network traffic for malicious activity and uses this resulting data to address cyber vulnerabilities. In addition, DHS issues bulletins and alerts that provide information on potential cyber threats. Last year, DHS issued more the 5,000 alerts and advisories, which it shared with various government, private sector, and critical infrastructure stakeholders; as well as the public.

Looking inside cyber-criminal organizations

Cyber criminals --what's their M.O.? USCERT says Attackers focus on exploiting client-side systems (your computer) through various vulnerabilities. They use these vulnerabilities to take control of your computer, steal your information, destroy your files, and use your computer to attack other computers. A low-cost way attackers do this is by exploiting vulnerabilities in web browsers. An attacker can create a malicious web page that will install Trojan software or spyware that will steal your information.

DHS working on Cyber Security Framework

To promote cyber security practices and develop these core capabilities, DHS says it is working with critical infrastructure owners and operators to create a Cyber security Framework - a set of core practices to develop capabilities to manage cyber security risk. These are the known practices that many firms already do, in part or across the enterprise and across a wide range of sectors. The draft Framework will be complete in October.

Fort Disco attacks passwords

How strong is your password? Cyber criminals are running a wide-ranging password-guessing attack against some of the most popular blogging and content management systems on the net. The Fort Disco cracking campaign began in late May this year and is still going on. The UK based Register reports Four strains of Windows malware are associated with the campaign, each of which caused infected machines to phone home to a hard-coded command and control domain

Botnets attack blogging tools

Techweek has been reporting that two large botnets have targeted various content management systems, including WordPress and Joomla. The most recent attacks were labeled as Fort Disco, which began in late May 2013, according to Arbor Networks. Arbor has found six command and control servers, running over 25,000 infected Windows machines that were used to attack CMS systems using brute force or basically running through large lists of possible passwords.

Recognizing camouflaged websites

Web page addresses can be disguised or take you to an unexpected site. Many web browsers are configured to provide increased functionality at the cost of decreased security. New security vulnerabilities may have been discovered since the software was configured and packaged by the manufacturer. Computer systems and software packages may be bundled with additional software, which increases the number of vulnerabilities that may be attacked.

Cyber criminals target browsers

The U.S. government says there is an increasing threat from software attacks that take advantage of vulnerable web browsers. USCERT says we have observed a trend whereby new software vulnerabilities are exploited and directed at web browsers through use of compromised or malicious websites. This problem is made worse by a number of factors, including the fact that many users have a tendency to click on links without considering the risks of their actions.

Web browsers vulnerable

Your web browser. No matter which one you use, it's vulnerable. The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (USCERT) says it is vital to configure them securely. USCERT says often the operating system is not set up in a secure default configuration. Not securing your web browser can lead quickly to a variety of computer problems caused by anything from spyware being installed without your knowledge to intruders taking control of your computer.

Foreign competitors taking advantage of NSA's leaks

Not only are Americans suspicious of NSA, but according to bizjournal.com Washington bureau, Foreign competitors are looking to aggressively grow their market share in cloud computing because of concerns raised by the National Security Agency's PRISM program. Bizjournals.com reports U.S. cloud computing companies could lose $22 billion to $35 billion in revenue over the next three years because of foreign customers' concerns about the privacy of their data.

NSA and hackers relationship suffers

The U.S. government's efforts to recruit talented hackers could suffer from the recent revelations about its vast domestic surveillance programs, as many private researchers express disillusionment with the National Security Agency. Experts say much of the goodwill that existed has been erased after the NSA's classified programs to monitor phone records and Internet activity were exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Mobile Phones threatened

The chief scientist with Berlin's Security Research Labs, revealed recently that he led a research team at the German firm that figured out a way to remotely gain control of and also clone some mobile SIM cards. Karsten Nohl, a well-known security expert said mobile carriers have quickly protected customers from that security bug that he revealed 10 days ago and that he estimated had put more than 500 million phones at risk of cyber-attacks.

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