• “Dark Internet” inhibits law enforcement’s ability to identify, track terrorists

    For several months, Islamic State militants have been using instant messaging apps which encrypt or destroy conversations immediately. This has inhibit U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies from identifying and monitoring suspected terrorists, even when a court order is granted, because messaging companies and app developers say they are unable to unlock the coded conversations and/or do not have a record of the conversations. “We’re past going dark in certain instances,” said Michael B. Steinbach, the FBI’s top counterterrorism official. “We are dark.”

  • Can the power grid survive a cyberattack?

    It is very hard to overstate how important the U.S. power grid is to American society and its economy. Every critical infrastructure, from communications to water, is built on it and every important business function from banking to milking cows is completely dependent on it. And the dependence on the grid continues to grow as more machines, including equipment on the power grid, get connected to the Internet. The grid’s vulnerability to nature and physical damage by man, including a sniper attack in a California substation in 2013, has been repeatedly demonstrated. But it is the threat of cyberattack that keeps many of the most serious people up at night, including the U.S. Department of Defense. In a 2012 report, the National Academy of Sciences called for more research to make the grid more resilient to attack and for utilities to modernize their systems to make them safer. Indeed, as society becomes increasingly reliant on the power grid and an array of devices are connected to the internet, security and protection must be a high priority.

  • Combating cyber threats to the global financial industry

    Today more than fifteen billion devices are connected to the Internet; in the next five years, that number will grow to fifty billion. With each new device presenting an opportunity to be infiltrated and compromised by hackers, it is easy to understand why the importance of cybersecurity continues to skyrocket. So explained keynote speaker Elizabeth Petrie, director of strategic intelligence analysis for Citigroup, who kicked off a one-day conference at the University of Delaware on cybersecurity issues impacting the global financial industry.

  • USMobile launches Scrambl3 mobile, Top Secret communication-standard app

    Irvine, California-based USMobile, a developer of private mobile phone services, yesterday launched Scrambl3, a smartphone app that enables users to create their own Private Mobile Network. When Scrambl3 users communicate with each other, Scrambl3 creates a Dark Internet Tunnel between their smartphones. This Tunnel cloaks the calls and texts by making them invisible on the Internet. Scrambl3 App for Android-based phones is available for a 60-day free beta offering from the Google Play Store.

  • Rumor-detection software detects, corrects erroneous claims on Twitter

    A week after the Boston marathon bombing, hackers sent a bogus tweet from the official Twitter handle of the Associated Press. It read: “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.” Before the AP and White House could correct the record, the stock market responded, dropping more than 140 points in a matter of minutes. Losses mounted into the billions. The market recovered just as quickly, but analysts said the timeframe could well have been long enough for in-the-know perpetrators to profit through trading. Researchers have developed software to help society identify and correct erroneous claims on Twitter.

  • Exposure to media coverage of terrorist acts, disasters may cause long-term negative health effects

    The city of Boston endured one of the worst terrorist attacks on U.S. soil in April of 2013, when two pressure-cooker bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. While emergency workers responded to the chaos and law enforcement agencies began a manhunt for the perpetrators, Americans fixed their attention to television screens, Internet news sites and forums, and Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. In doing so, some of those people may have been raising their acute stress levels which, in some cases, have been linked with long-term negative health effects. For some individuals, intense exposure to the Boston Marathon bombing through media coverage could be associated with more stress symptoms than those who had direct exposure to the attack.

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  • A growing threat: Car hacking

    A string of high-profile hacks — the most recent on President Obama’s personal email account — have made cybercrime an ever-growing concern in the United States. Despite the publicity, most people still think of hacking as something which is done only to information systems like computers and mobile devices. In reality, hacking is no longer confined to the information world. The level of automation in modern physical systems means that even everyday automobiles are now vulnerable to hacking. Researchers are now looking into the growing threat of automotive hacking. “More and more in your everyday life you see that we’re automating physical systems,” one researcher says. “And unlike an information system, a physical system could kill you by accident.”

  • Tech companies urge rejection of push by FBI, DOJ for electronic devices “backdoors”

    In a 19 May letter to President Barack Obama, a group of Silicon Valley tech companies, cyber-security experts, and privacy advocacy groups urged the president to reject the implementation of “backdoors” in smartphone and computer encryption. The letter offered evidence of the  strong objection of the tech industry to demands from the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to allow secret backdoor passages into consumer electronics, which would make it possible for law enforcement to read encrypted private communications and data.

  • One false tweet sent financial markets into a tailspin

    A false tweet from a hacked account owned by the Associated Press (AP) in 2013 sent financial markets into a tailspin. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 143.5 points and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lost more than $136 billion of its value in the seconds that immediately followed the post. Once the nature of the tweet was discovered, the markets corrected themselves almost as quickly as they were skewed by the bogus information, but the event, known as Hack Crash, demonstrates the need better to understand how social media data is linked to decision making in the private and public sector.

  • How a hacker could hijack a plane from their seat

    Reports that a cybersecurity expert successfully hacked into an airplane’s control system from a passenger seat raises many worrying questions for the airline industry. It was once believed that the cockpit network that allows the pilot to control the plane was fully insulated and separate from the passenger network running the in-flight entertainment system. This should make it impossible for a hacker in a passenger seat to interfere with the course of the flight. But the unfolding story of this hacker’s achievement, which has prompted further investigation by authorities and rebuttals from plane manufacturers, means that this assumption needs to be revisited.

  • Ongoing attack against oil tankers aims to defraud oil brokers

    A new report details a malicious and largely unknown targeted attack on oil tankers. First discovered in January 2014, the ongoing attack on oil cargos began in August 2013, and is designed to steal information and credentials for defrauding oil brokers. Despite having been compromised by this cyber-attack, which has been dubbed the “Phantom Menace,” none of the dozens of affected companies have been willing to report the invasion and risk global attention for vulnerabilities in their IT security networks.

  • Massive cyberattack by Chinese government hackers on Penn State College of Engineering

    The Penn State College of Engineering has been the target of two sophisticated cyberattacks conducted by so-called “advanced persistent threat” actors. The FireEye cybersecurity forensic unit Mandiant, which was hired by Penn State after the breach was discovered, has confirmed that at least one of the two attacks was carried out by a threat actor based in China, using advanced malware to attack systems in the college. In a coordinated response by Penn State, the College of Engineering’s computer network has been disconnected from the Internet and a large-scale operation to securely recover all systems has been launched. On 21 November 2014 Penn State was alerted by the FBI to a cyberattack of unknown origin and scope on the school’s College of Engineering.

  • Pentagon to invest in Silicon Valley tech startups to help develop advanced cyber solutions

    The Pentagon will begin to invest in Silicon Valley tech startups as part of the department’s plan to develop and acquire more advanced cyber solutions to secure the country and military’s digital infrastructure. The investments will be made through In-Q-Tel, a nonprofit strategic investing firm the Central Intelligence Agency launched sixteen years ago. In-Q-Tel does not invest in companies alone, but rather relies on traditional venture firms to partner and contribute the lion’s share of the funding, so having them on board is critical for the program’s success.

  • Researchers hack a teleoperated surgical robot, revealing security flaws

    Real-world teleoperated robots, which are controlled by a human who may be in another physical location, are expected to become more commonplace as the technology evolves. They are ideal for situations which are dangerous for people: fighting fires in chemical plants, diffusing explosive devices or extricating earthquake victims from collapsed buildings. Researchers conducted a series of experiments in which they hacked a next generation teleoperated surgical robot — one used only for research purposes — to test how easily a malicious attack could hijack remotely controlled operations in the future and to make those systems more secure.

  • States, cities vying to become U.S. “cyber hub”

    The global cybersecurity market reached $67 billion in 2011, and it is projected to grow as high as $156 billion by 2019. The need for cybersecurity solutions and experts is going to grow as more companies such as Sony Pictures, Target, Home Depot, and Chase are hacked, consumers demand better online security, and businesses become more aware of the potential cost to their sales and reputation if they do not provide cybersecurity. As private sector firms compete with government agencies for the best cyber professionals, cities and states are also competing to be the country’s “cyber hub.”