Cybersecurity

  • National Guard units help states ward off cyberattacks

    Governors across the United States are mobilizing their states’ National Guard units to combat threats from cyberattacks. The state of Washington was the first state to assign the state’s National Guard cybersecurity responsibilities. The state recognized the potential of its National Guard as a cyberforce when it realized that many of its soldiers, who are full-time employees and part-time soldiers, worked for tech employers such as Google, Boeing, Cisco, Verizon, and Microsoft.

  • Quantum encryption for wiretap-proof communication a step closer

    Polarized light, in which all the light waves oscillate on the same plane, forms the foundation for technology such as LCD displays in computers and TV sets, and advanced quantum encryption. There are two ways to create polarized light, but each has its problems: filtering normal unpolarized to block unwanted light waves (but here, half of the light emitted, and thereby an equal amount of energy, are lost), or using light which is polarized at the source (but here, polarization is either too weak or hard to control). Now there is a better way: By emitting photons from a quantum dot at the top of a micropyramid, researchers are creating a polarized light source with a high degree of linear polarization, on average 84 percent. As the quantum dots can also emit one photon at a time, this is promising technology for quantum encryption, a growing technology for wiretap-proof communication.

  • Two Israeli startups with innovative cybersecurity solutions raise combined $25 million

    Two Israeli cybersecurity startups, launched by veterans of the IDF technology units, announced that, separately, they had raised a combined $25 million from investors. Adallom’s solution accumulates users’ behavioral data in order to protect databases. It monitors how software applications like the customer relationship management program Salesforce, Google apps, and Microsoft Office 360 are used, and protects data security. Aorato’s solution watches for suspicious usage of employee credentials – for example, multiple guessing attempts. “2013 showed the world the risks of advanced threats in parallel to the implications of insiders’ access to sensitive corporate data,” Aorato’s CEO Idan Plotnik noted, referring to the Edward Snowden’s leaks of secret government information.

  • National cyber complex to open next to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev campus

    A new national cyber complex called CyberSpark will open at the Advanced Technology Park (ATP) which is located next to Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Fortune 500 companies Lockheed Martin and IBM announced they would invest in CyberSpark R&D facilities, joining other cybersecurity leaders Deutsche Telekom, EMC, RSA, and many startups. The 15-building ATP is the only type of complex of its kind in the world that includes Fortune 500 companies and cyber-incubators, academic researchers, and educational facilities as well as national government and security agencies. The CyberSpark will also include a high school geared toward science and technology.

  • Gaza-based Palestinian hackers compromise Israeli defense ministry computer

    Hackers broke into a computer at the Israeli Ministry of Defense through an e-mail attachment tainted with malicious software. The attachment looked as if it had been sent by the country’s internal security service, the Shin Bet. it was likely that Palestinians were behind the cyberattack, saying that the more recent attacks were similar to cyberattacks against Israeli computers more than a year ago. Those attacks originated in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The attackers used an e-mail attachment to infect the computers with Xtreme RAT malware, which is a remote access Trojan. The malware allows hackers complete control of an infected machine. They can steal information, load additional malicious software onto the network, or use the invaded computer as a base of operations from which to conduct reconnaissance and attempt to gain deeper access into the network.

  • Cal Poly unveils ambitious cybersecurity educational initiative

    Cal Poly, with a grant from the Northrop Grumman Foundation, has established a Cybersecurity Center, opened a new cyber lab, and is developing a cybersecurity curriculum with an ambitious set of goals in mind: educating thousands of students in cybersecurity awareness and readiness; producing experts in cyber technologies and systems, including many professionals who will serve the military and defense industry; and graduating cyber innovators who are prepared for advanced study and applied research in emerging cyber issues.

  • Expert calls for “surveillance minimization” to restore public trust

    Surveillance minimization — where surveillance is the exception, not the rule — could help rebuild public trust following revelations about the collection of personal data, according to an expert on privacy and surveillance. “Surveillance minimization requires surveillance to be targeted rather than universal, controlled and warranted at the point of data gathering rather than of data access, and performed for the minimum necessary time on the minimum necessary people,” he says.

  • Botwall: New Web security solution uses real-time polymorphism to ward off attacks

    Malware has long used polymorphism — that is, rewriting its code — every time a new machine was infected in order easily to evade antivirus detection systems. Shape Security says its new product, the ShapeShifter, is reversing this advantage which malware has so far enjoyed: the new product uses polymorphic code as a new foundational tool for Web site defense. The patent-pending technology implements real-time polymorphism, or dynamically changing code, on any Web site, to remove the static elements that botnets and malware depend on for their attacks.

  • Many VSATs operated with no security, leaving them vulnerable to hacking

    Very-small-aperture terminals, or VSATs, are used by the oil and gas industry, utilities, financial firms, and news media to transmit information, often sensitive, from remote locations to headquarters. There are more than 2.9 million VSATs in operation around the world, with about two-thirds based in the United States. New security report says that at least 10,500 VSATs are operated with minimal or no security, and are wide open to being hacked.

  • House approves $447 for Cyber Command

    The House of Representatives approved a fiscal 2014 stop-gap budget last Monday (it approved to full spending bill on Wednesday), which allocates $447 million to the Defense Department’s Cyber Command. This is more than twice the $191 million budget for Cyber Command in 2013.

  • Tracking Internet searches to predict disease outbreak

    The habit of Googling for an online diagnosis before visiting a GP can provide early warning of an infectious disease epidemic. A new study found that Internet-based surveillance has been found to detect infectious diseases such Dengue Fever and Influenza up to two weeks earlier than traditional surveillance methods. Researchers say that when investigating the occurrence of epidemics, spikes in searches for information about infectious diseases could accurately predict outbreaks of that disease.

  • Healthcare industry to conduct cyberattack drill in March

    The American health care industry, in partnership with the federal government, will in March conduct simulated cyberattacks targeting industry networks and resources in an effort to test the industry’s vulnerability to cyberattacks. This will be the first time insurers, hospitals, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and HHS will run coordinated drills. Healthcare is one of seventeen critical infrastructure sectors which, if attacked, could have damaging consequences for the country.

  • Quantum physics to make possible secure, single-use computer memories

    Computer security systems may one day get a boost from quantum physics, as researchers have devised a way to make a security device that has proved notoriously difficult to build — a “one-shot” memory unit, whose contents can be read only a single time. One-shot memories would have a wide range of possible applications such as protecting the transfer of large sums of money electronically.

  • Estimating the best time to launch a cyberattack

    Of the many tricks used by the world’s greatest military strategists, one usually works well — taking the enemy by surprise. It is an approach that goes back to the horse that brought down Troy. But surprise can only be achieved if you get the timing right. Timing which, researchers at the University of Michigan argue, can be calculated using a mathematical model — at least in the case of cyber-wars. “The question of timing is analogous to the question of when to use a double agent to mislead the enemy, where it may be worth waiting for an important event but waiting too long may mean the double agent has been discovered,” the researchers say.

  • Palo Alto Networks acquires Morta Security

    Palo Alto Networks has acquired Morta Security, a Silicon Valley-based cybersecurity company operating in stealth mode since 2012. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Palo Alto Networks says that the acquisition of Morta Security further strengthens its position as a provider of next-generation enterprise security.Palo Alto Network says that most organizations still rely on legacy point technologies that address only specific types of attacks, or phases of the attack. Because of the singular nature of these technologies, they are ill-equipped to detect and prevent today’s advanced cyberattacks.The company says that to address these challenges, a new approach is required.