Cybersecurity

  • Former head of MI6 calls for new surveillance pact between governments and ISPs

    The former head of British intelligence agency MI6, Sir John Sawers, has called for a new surveillance pact between Internet companies and U.S. and U.K. security services. Both groups could work together as they had in the past to prevent a repeat of terror events such as the recent Paris attacks, he said. American and British law enforcement and intelligence agencies are urging major Internet companies to provide backdoors or access to encrypted e-mails and other forms of Web communications. “I think one benefit of the last eighteen months’ debate [since Snowden’s leaks were made public] is that people now understand that is simply not possible [to keep the public secure without surveillance] and there has to be some form of ability to cover communications that are made through modern technology,” Sawers said.

  • Mandatory cybersecurity regulations necessary to protect U.S. infrastructure: Experts

    Since last year’s cyberattacks made public the cyber vulnerabilities of major U.S. firms including Sony Entertainment, JPMorgan Chase, and Target, President Barack Obama has been on the offensive, proposing strict rules better to prosecute hackers and make U.S. firms responsible for protecting consumer information. Experts say, though, that private firms are unlikely, on their own, to make the necessary financial investment to protect against a critical infrastructure cyberattack. What is needed, these experts say, is a mandatory cybersecurity framework followed by all entities involved with critical infrastructure, strong protection of information regarding cyberattacks shared with DHS, and a sincere effort from the private sector to secure their own networks.

  • Information assurance specialist licenses ORNL malware detection technology

    Washington, D.C.-based R&K Cyber Solutions LLC (R&K) has licensed Hyperion, a cybersecurity technology from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory that can quickly recognize malicious software even if the specific program has not been previously identified as a threat. By computing and analyzing program behaviors associated with harmful intent, Hyperion technology can look inside an executable program to determine the software’s behavior without using its source code or running the program.

  • Proposed changes to CFAA, RICO would criminalize cybersecurity research: Critics

    Cybersecurity professionals are concerned that the White House’s proposed changes to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, could criminalize cybersecurity research. The legislative proposals would make accessing public documents illegal if the documents’ owner would not have approved; create stricter punishments for anyone convicted of a cybercrime; and would allow the government to seize assets connected to cybercrimes. The White House also proposes upgrading hacking to a “racketeering” offense.

  • If you seek to “switch off” encryption, you may as well switch off the whole Internet

    Prime Minister David Cameron has stated that the U.K. government will look at “switching off” some forms of encryption in order to make society safer from terror attacks. This might make a grand statement but it is impossible to implement and extremely technologically naïve. Encryption is a core part of the Internet; its use is increasing every day — Google’s services, including search and e-mail, use encrypted streams, as do Facebook and Twitter and many other widely used sites. Encryption makes it almost impossible for eavesdroppers to read the contents of the traffic. It is the foundation upon which all e-commerce is based. The technical case for switching off encryption is thus simply a non-starter. In fact we are moving in the opposite direction, replacing the old, open Internet with one that incorporates security by design. If you wish to switch off encryption, it will unpick the stitching that holds the Internet together.

  • Cyber protection of DHS’s and other federal facilities is weak: GAO

    While most cybersecurity threats against government agencies tend to focus on network and computer systems, a growing number of access control systems, responsible for regulating electricity use, heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC), and the operation of secured doors and elevators are also vulnerable to hacking. .” GAO warns that despite the seriousness of the vulnerabilities, agencies tasked with securing federal facilities have not been proactive.

  • U Wisconsin, shedding 1960s anti-classified research image, launches cybersecurity center

    A new cybersecurity research center being built in partnership with private firms and the University of Wisconsin(UW) system aims to attract high-tech research dollars to the state, but administrators must balance the secrecy required for classified research with the openness which is the foundation of academic science. The state legislature passed a 2014 law allowing UW to accept contract for classified work partly in hopes that the school system will lose the perception of being an anti-classified-research environment, a perception dating back to campus protests against military research in the 1960s.

  • Universities adding cybersecurity programs to their curricula to meet growing demand

    The cyberattacks of recent years have not only increased the demand for employees who understand the field of information assurance and cybersecurity, they have also created a demand in cybersecurity education. Universities across the country are adding cybersecurity concentrations to their curricula to train students who will later help secure network systems.

  • Obama to unveil several cybersecurity initiatives this week

    President Barack Obama, in anticipation of the 20 January State of the Union address, has been sharing details of his address to a generate buzz. This week, Obama will focus on cybersecurity initiatives, including identity theft and electronic privacy laws, aimed at protecting citizens and the private sector. Obama will also announce a policy package designed to provide affordable access to broadband Internet nationwide.

  • Cybercrime imposing growing costs on global economy

    A new report has found that the cost of cybercrime to the global community and infrastructure is not only incredibly high, but steadily rising as well. The study concluded that up to $575 billion a year — larger than some countries’ economies — is lost due to these incidents. The emergence of the largely unregulated, and unprotected, Internet of Things will make matters only worse.

  • Medical devices, not only medical records, are vulnerable to hackers

    Health organizations have spent millions of dollars to protect hospital computer systems and software from malware, but hospitals today are increasingly equipped with many medical devices linked to Wi-Fi, making the devices a portal to hospital room operations. Infusion pumps deliver measured doses of nutrients or medications such as insulin or other hormones, antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, and pain relievers into a patient’s body. Although it has yet to happen, it is quite possible for a hacker to infiltrate an active infusion pump on a hospital’s Wi-Fi and change the dosage. Hackers can also use the pump’s network access to inject malware in the hospital’s network systems, giving them entry to patients’ medical records. The records can then be sold to identity thieves.

  • DHS releases the wrong FOIA-requested documents, exposing infrastructure vulnerabilities

    On 3 July 2014, DHS, responding to a Freedom of Information Act(FOIA) request on Operation Aurora, a malware attack on Google, instead released more than 800 pages of documents related to the Aurora Project, a 2007 research effort led by Idaho National Laboratoryto show the cyber vulnerabilities of U.S. power and water systems, including electrical generators and water pumps. The research project found that once these infrastructure systems are infiltrated, a cyberattack can remotely control key circuit breakers, thereby throwing a machine’s rotating parts out of synchronization and causing parts of the system to break down.

  • Bolstering cybersecurity by taking a step back in time to analog security systems

    Richard Danzig, the vice chairman for the RAND Corporation and a former secretary of the navy, is saying it is timeto take a step back in time and incorporate analog security systems into cyber infrastructure. “Merge your system with something that is analog, physical, or human so that if the system is subverted digitally it has a second barrier to go through,” he said. “If I really care about something then I want something that is not just a digital input but a human or secondary consideration,” he says.

  • FBI, DHS study threats against news organizations covering “The Interview” incident

    Last week, the FBI and DHS issued a joint intelligence bulletin to law enforcement agencies across the country urging them to remain vigilant, citing a series of threats against movie theaters that show “The Interview” and news organizations that continue to cover the incident between Sony Entertainmentand Guardians of Peace, the hacking group allegedly backed by North Korea. A Tennessee man has since emerged saying he issued the threat against the news organizations and that he was just “messing around,” but the FBI is trying to determine whether the threat to news organizations was indeed a hoax.