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3:42 am, April 16, 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.

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Agencies see cloud, mobile computing as a path to interoperability

As agencies strive to make legacy applications available on any device, NIST is providing help by developing metrics and focusing on portability.

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Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.)

Congress will try again this session on cybersecurity legislation, but some of the problems that prevented it from passing the last several years are back again. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, talked to In Depth with Francis Rose about cyber legislation in his office on Capitol Hill today. He says the landscape looks a little different for the legislation this time around.

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Cyber criminals go after the "Golden State"

California Attorney General Kamala Harris says her state has become a major U.S. target of cyber-crimes committed by outlaw groups with ties to Eastern Europe, China and Africa. As part of a broader report on international organized crime groups, Harris said about 17 percent of attempts to hack into major computer networks in the United States in 2012 were aimed at California.

Email privacy violated

Microsoft, is admitting it searched emails in a blogger's Hotmail account to track down who was leaking company secrets. John Frank, deputy general counsel for Microsoft, which owns Hotmail, said in a statement the software company ``took extraordinary actions in this case.'' But, In the future, he said, Microsoft would consult an outside attorney who is a former judge to determine if a court order would have allowed such a search.

Cybercrime rises

PwC has released a new survey that indicates, cybercrime is the second most common type of fraud reported by financial firms, more than double the level across other industries. According to the report, 39 percent of financial services companies that suffered from economic crime last year said they had been hit by cybercrime, compared to 17 percent in other industries.

New Spyware uncovered

There's some new spyware that's been infecting hundreds of government computers in Europe and the United States. Several security researchers and Western intelligence officers, according to Reuters believe the malware, called Turla, is from the Russian government. They also think it's inked to the same software used in a U.S. military breach in 2008.

China forms cyber security department

Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to the Associated Press, "has put himself in charge of a new body to coordinate cyber security, in a sign of Beijing's concern over its vulnerability to online attacks and its desire to retain tight control over the Internet." AP says Chinese state media reports the central Internet security and information leading group will draft policy for boosting the country's defenses, as well as expanding and improving Internet access.

Bitcoins Disappear

The Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange in Tokyo filed for bankruptcy protection Friday and its chief executive said 850,000 bitcoins, worth several hundred million dollars, are unaccounted for. The exchange's CEO Mark Karpeles appeared before Japanese TV news cameras, bowing deeply. He said a weakness in the exchange's systems was behind a massive loss of the virtual currency involving 750,000 bitcoins from users and 100,000 of the company's own bitcoins. That would amount to about $425 million.

Banks and retailers bury the hatchet on Cyber

U.S. banks and retail groups say they are joining forces to work on cyber security, getting past recent finger pointing for data breaches. The Financial Services Roundtable, Retail Industry Leaders Association and several other trade associations said the new partnership would focus on sharing more information on cyber threats.

Mixed Messages for NSA

Utah lawmakers are sending mixed messages to the National Security Agency, which runs a massive data-storage warehouse outside of Salt Lake City. One proposal is calling for legislators not to collect utility taxes from the center. Meanwhile, another lawmaker wants to cut off water to the center, which uses more than 1 million gallons daily to cool its computer processers.

FINRA reviewing security

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is looking at the measures that Wall Street's brokerages take to protect their businesses and customers from cyber security threats. FINRA, which conducts periodic "sweeps," or targeted checks on Wall Street brokerages, says it is conducting the review, in part, because of the growing threat to information technology systems from "a variety of sources.

Bank Customers Targeted in scam

App River email and security experts says Bank of America customers have been targeted by a new virus campaign they're calling a Bredo virus. It comes in the form of phishing email that claiming to be from BofA and asking the recipient of download a security file. The main goal of this virus is to steal information such as banking info or recording keystrokes. The software may also have abilities to further infect a system by downloading more malware on to the machine.

Evidence of system hacks varies

How can you tell if your system has been compromised? Internet security firm Mandiant says there are numerous signs. Included are evidence of unauthorized use of valid accounts, trace evidence & partial files, command and control activity, known and unknown malware, suspicious network traffic, valid programs used for other purposes and files that have obviously been accessed by attackers. IT managers are reminded that threats can slip in undetected and lay dormant for long periods of time before striking.

Online shopping rules evolve

How do you shop securely online. The Center for Internet Security says you should "know your online merchants. Limit online shopping to merchants you know and trust. Only go to sites by directly typing the URL in the address bar. If you are unsure about a merchant, check with the Better Business Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission to ensure its legitimacy. Confirm the online seller's contact information in case you have questions or problems. Use a credit card, not a debit card. Credit cards are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act and may reduce your liability if your information is used improperly.

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.

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