• DOJ considering charging Russian government officials in DNC, Podesta hacks

    The Department of Justice has identified six Russian government officials involved in hacking the DNC and using the information against candidate Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. Prosecutors have enough evidence to bring charges against those individuals by next year. The information gathered by DOJ supports the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian government agencies to launch a coordinated effort to help Trump win the November election. DOJ has identified Russian hackers working for both military and intelligence agencies in Russia.

  • A third of the internet is under DoS attack

    For the first time, researchers have carried out a large-scale analysis of victims of internet denial-of-service (DoS) attacks worldwide. And what they found is, in a phrase from their study, “an eye-opening statistic.” The researchers found that about one-third of the IPv4 address space was subject to some kind of DoS attacks, where a perpetrator maliciously disrupts services of a host connected to the internet. IPv4 is the fourth version of an Internet Protocol (IP) address, a numerical label assigned to each device participating in a computer network.

  • Real security requires strong encryption – even if investigators get blocked

    The FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice have been fighting against easy, widespread public access to encryption technologies for 25 years. Since the bureau’s dispute with Apple in 2016 over access to the encrypted iPhone of one of the two people who shot 14 victims in San Bernardino, California, this battle has become more pitched. This dispute is not about whether regular people can or should use encryption: The U.S. government is in favor of using encryption to secure data. Rather, it’s about the FBI’s demand that encryption systems include “exceptional access,” enabling police who get a warrant to circumvent the encryption on a device or on an encrypted call. The demand for exceptional access by law enforcement is a broad threat to fundamental parts of American society, and it poses a serious danger to national security as well as individual privacy. As technology changes, the jobs of police and intelligence workers must also change; in some ways, it will be harder, in others, easier. But the basic need for security supports the call for wide use of strong encryption – and without modifications that make it easy for Russians, or others, to break in.

  • Challenges to U.S. election integrity

    Various concerns about the security of U.S. elections have arisen over the past two decades, some more significant than others. While many studies have shown that voter fraud, for instance, is vanishingly rare in the U.S., what about the state of electoral administration, lost votes, and cyberattacks? MIT experts offer insights on data, technology, and election security in an era of rising concern.

  • Israeli software gives New York power plants “Iron Dome” protection against failures

    An Israeli company that developed the software for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system is working with the New York Power Authority to prevent unexpected shutdowns. New York State Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped-Storage Power Plant, and a 500 MW plant in Queens now have software based on the software that runs Iron Dome.

  • Russia’s disinformation posts reached 126 million Americans: Facebook

    Disinformation specialists at the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Kremlin-affiliated Russian group, created 80,000 Facebook posts which were directly served to 29 million Americans. After the posts were liked, shared, and commented on, they traveled to the news feeds of approximately 126 million Americans at some point between January 2015 and August 2017. These numbers mean that Russian-produced disinformation and propaganda reached about 40 percent of the U.S. population. Facebook says that IRA’s 80,000 posts come on top the 3,000 political ads created by the IRA – and that these ads were seen by 11.4 million Americans. “Many of the ads and posts we’ve seen so far are deeply disturbing — seemingly intended to amplify societal divisions and pit groups of people against each other,” said Facebook’s General Counsel Colin Stretch. “They would be controversial even if they came from authentic accounts in the United States. But coming from foreign actors using fake accounts, they are simply unacceptable.”

  • Insinuation and influence: How the Kremlin targets Americans online

    The objective of Kremlin influence operations, part of a larger set of tactics and strategies known as active measures, is to make the target population more amenable to Kremlin wants and desires. They achieve this either by gaining a sympathetic hearing of their views, or failing that, by keeping us busy fighting among ourselves. The Kremlin seeks both to sow discord and create chaos in Western societies and rally support for, or limit opposition to, its geopolitical agenda.

  • WannaCry report shows NHS chiefs knew of security danger, but management took no action

    A report from the parliamentary National Audit Office into the WannaCry ransomware attack that brought down significant parts of Britain’s National Health Service in May 2017 has predictably been reported as blaming NHS trusts and smaller organizations within the care system for failing to ensure that appropriate computer security measures such as software updates and secure firewalls were in place. But the central NHS IT organization, NHS Digital, provided security alerts and the correct patches that would have protected vulnerable systems well before WannaCry hit. This is not a cybersecurity failure in the practicalities, but a failure of cybersecurity management at the top level.

  • “Instant replay” quickly pinpoints cyberattack details

    Until now, assessing the extent and impact of network or computer system attacks has been largely a time-consuming manual process. A new software system being developed by cybersecurity researchers will largely automate that process, allowing investigators to quickly and accurately pinpoint how intruders entered the network, what data they took, and which computer systems were compromised.

  • North Korea behind May 2017 WannaCry attack on British health services: U.K.

    The British government has said it was all but certain North Korea carried out the “WannaCry” malware attack which hobbled the IT systems of the NHS, Britain’s national health service, in May. The National Audit Office (NAO) released a report on Friday which found that hospitals and clinics were left exposed to cyberattack because they failed to follow basic cybersecurity recommendations. WannaCry attacks were not limited to the United Kingdom: More than 300,000 computers in 150 countries were also infected with the WannaCry ransomware. The malware crippled organizations — government agencies, global companies, small firms — by targeting computers with outdated security.

  • EU set to define cyberattacks as “acts of war,” allowing collective military response

    In Response to Russian interference in the electoral campaigns in Germany, France, and the Netherlands, and the North Korean WannaCry attack on the U.K. health services, EU governments are planning to sign a declaration – officially titled “The framework on a joint EU diplomatic response to malicious cyber activities” — which defines cyberattacks on any EU country as an act of war, potentially triggering a military retaliation – even including conventional arms – in response. The proposed EU declaration would be similar to a change NATO made to the treaty governing NATO operations: In 2014, NATO updated its cyber defense policy, to make an explicit link between cyberattacks at a certain threshold and the invocation of a NATO’s article 5 collective defense as part of the treaty.

  • The active measures orchestra: An examination of Russian influence operations abroad

    Russia has embraced new technologies and forms of communication that have allowed it to take advantage of years of Western inattention to a growing problem. However, the tools Russia uses in its current influence operations are nothing new. Neither are its strategic objectives of subverting NATO and the EU and undermining Western governments and democratic institutions. While for many Americans Russia’s actions seem to have come out of nowhere, it is essential that we understand these actions occurred in the context of a wide and ongoing effort by the Kremlin.

  • Too much browser functionality creates unnecessary security, privacy risks

    Modern website browsers provide an incredibly broad range of features, with more and more capabilities being added every day. New research has identified numerous browser functionalities rarely used or needed by websites, but which pose substantial security and privacy risks to web surfers. Blocking website access to unnecessary browser functionality would help reduce these risks.

  • DOD to remove Kaspersky software from Pentagon systems

    The Department of Defense is reviewing its computer systems to make sure that software from under-suspicion Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky does not touch any military systems. In September DHS issued a directive to all civilian government agencies to remove Kaspersky software from their systems. The directive, which gave agencies three months to complete the removal, referred to deepening concerns in the U.S. intelligence community about the close relationship between Kaspersky and the Russian intelligence agencies.

  • DOD to remove Kaspersky software from Pentagon systems

    The Department of Defense is reviewing its computer systems to make sure that software from under-suspicion Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky does not touch any military systems. In September DHS issued a directive to all civilian government agencies to remove Kaspersky software from their systems. The directive, which gave agencies three months to complete the removal, referred to deepening concerns in the U.S. intelligence community about the close relationship between Kaspersky and the Russian intelligence agencies.