Cybersecurity

  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

  • 2014: The year of security breach awareness

    2014 will be seen as the “Year of the Breach,” or at the least, the “Year of Raised Awareness of Breaches,” according to observers of IT security trends over the course of the year. The legal repercussions for hackers are small, and usually non-existent, but the cost in damage to the victims of hacking can be huge. A survey by the Ponemon Institute revealed that in 2014, the average cost of a cyberattack was $20.8 million for a company in the financial services sector, and $8.6 million for a retail store — costs which ultimately affect the public at large.

  • Businesses brace for more, and more sophisticated, cyberattacks in 2015

    The recent Sony Pictureshack is one more reason for industries to prepare for a series of cyberattacks which will likely occur in 2015. From massive data leaks to distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, hackers will continue to find vulnerabilities within targeted network systems. “In 2015, attackers will continue to look for new vulnerabilities so that they can ‘hack the planet’,” says one cyber expert.

  • Disease can be monitored, predicted by analyzing views of Wikipedia articles

    Scientists can now monitor and forecast diseases around the globe more effectively by analyzing views of Wikipedia articles. Researchers were able successfully to monitor influenza in the United States, Poland, Japan and Thailand, dengue fever in Brazil and Thailand, and tuberculosis in China and Thailand. They were also able to forecast all but one of these, tuberculosis in China, at least twenty-eight days in advance.

  • If South Korea’s nuclear plant staff are vulnerable, then so are the reactors

    Does it matter that a South Korean nuclear plant was hacked and plans of the complex stolen? As it is South Korea that’s the subject of this latest attack, everyone tends to assume it must have had something to do with North Korea. With a target as sensitive as a nuclear power plant, not unreasonably people are asking if safety could be compromised by a cyberattack. Could hackers cause the next Chernobyl or Three Mile Island? This points to an important and infrequently discussed problem, the vulnerability of critical national infrastructure. Cyber-attacks like these are a great way of levelling the playing field: why invest in massively expensive nuclear weapons program if you can simply shut down your enemies’ power, gas, water, and transportation systems? Increasingly more and more infrastructure is connected to the Internet, with all the security risks that entails.

  • DHS-funded app-vetting firm shows market promise

    DHS recently announced it would continue funding technology company Kryptowireso the company could further pursue private sector clients. Kryptowire sells software which identifies security vulnerabilities in mobile applications and archives the results. Kryptowire already has a client list that includes the Justice Departmentand a few entertainment and gaming companies, many of which use Kryptowire to review the safety of their apps before offering it to staff and customers.

  • Obama signs five cybersecurity measures into law

    Last week President Barack Obama signed five cybersecurity-related pieces of legislation, including an update to the Federal Information Security Management Act(FISMA) — now called the Federal Information Security Modernization Act — the law which governs federal government IT security. Other cyber legislation the president signed includes the Homeland Security Workforce Assessment Act, the Cybersecurity Workforce Assessment Act, the National Cybersecurity Protection Act (NCPA), and the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act.

  • Fixing e-mail vulnerabilities in your organization

    E-mail is by far the most widely used and the least secure form of communication. The reason why e-mail is so vulnerable to attacks is because most organizations simply do not take any steps to secure it. Some often believe that e-mail messages are like private letters — securely sealed while in transit, and can only be opened when they reach the recipient. In reality, unsecured e-mail can be compared to a postcard which can be easily intercepted along the way.