Cybersecurity

  • 2008 Turkish oil pipeline explosion may have been Stuxnet precursor

    The August 2008 Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline explosion in Refahiye, eastern Turkey, was ruled at the time to be an accident resulting from a mechanical failure, which itself was a result of an oversight by Turkish government’s supervisors. Western intelligence services concluded that the explosion was the result of a cyberattack. According to people familiar with an investigation of the incident, hackers had infiltrate the pipeline’s surveillance systems and valve stations, and super-pressurized the crude oil in the pipeline, causing the explosion.

  • FBI moves cyberthreats to top of law-enforcement agenda

    FBI director James Comey said combatting cybercrime and other cyber threats are now top FBI priority. “It (the Internet) is transforming human relationships in ways we’ve never seen in human history before,” Comey said. “I see a whole lot of hacktivists, I see a whole lot of international criminal gangs, very sophisticated thieves,” he added. “I see people hurting kids, tons of pedophiles, an explosion of child pornography.” In October Comey urged Congress to require tech companies to put “backdoors” in apps and operating systems. Such a move would allow law enforcement officials to better to monitor suspected criminals who often escape the law using encryption and anti-surveillance computer software.

  • Cyber whodunnit: North Korea prime suspect but there are many potential culprits

    Many suspect North Korea to be behind the attack on Sony Pictures. North Korea quite possibly has motive, means, and opportunity to carry out this attack on Sony, but as with any successful prosecution, that isn’t enough. We need evidence. We will have to wait for the detailed forensic work to complete before we stand a realistic chance of knowing for certain. That may or may not be forthcoming, but in the meantime we should consider what this event tells us about the balance of power in cyberspace. In a world in which major disruption can be caused with scant resources and little skill, all enemies are a threat. North Korea might be the rogue state that everyone loves to hate but there are plenty of others who could have done it. There is no longer a tiered approach of superpowers fighting proxy wars in smaller, developing nations. Now those developing nations can fight back, and you might not even know it was them.

  • Analyzing how emotions ripple following terrorist events

    The 2013 Boston Marathon bombing motivated mass expressions of fear, solidarity, and sympathy toward Bostonians on social media networks around the world. In a recently released study, researchers analyzed emotional reactions on Twitter in the hours and weeks following the attack. The study is the first large-scale analysis of fear and social-support reactions from geographically distant communities following a terrorist attack. The full results of the study may provide insight to governmental agencies exploring how best to handle public fear following a disruptive event.

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  • Quantum physics makes fraud-proof credit cards possible

    Credit card fraud and identify theft are serious problems for consumers and industries. Corporations and individuals work to improve safeguards, but it has become increasingly difficult to protect financial data and personal information from criminal activity. Fortunately, new insights into quantum physics may soon offer a solution, as a team of researchers has harnessed the power of quantum mechanics to create a fraud-proof method for authenticating a physical “key” which is virtually impossible to thwart.

  • Can a hacker stop your car or your heart? Security and the Internet of Things

    An ever-increasing number of our consumer electronics is Internet-connected. We’re living at the dawn of the age of the Internet of Things. Appliances ranging from light switches and door locks, to cars and medical devices boast connectivity in addition to basic functionality. The convenience can’t be beat, but the security and privacy implications cannot and should not be ignored. There needs to be a concerted effort to improve security of future devices. Researchers, manufacturers and end users need to be aware that privacy, health and safety can be compromised by increased connectivity. Benefits in convenience must be balanced with security and privacy costs as the Internet of Things continues to infiltrate our personal spaces.

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  • FIDO 1.0 specifications published aiming to promote stronger authentication

    The FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) Alliance, an open industry consortium promoting standards for simpler, stronger authentication, the other day published final 1.0 drafts of its two specifications — Universal Authentication Framework (UAF) and Universal 2nd Factor (U2F).

  • McAfee Labs report previews 2015 cyber threats, exploits, evasions

    McAfee Labs November 2014 Threats Report offers an analysis of threat activity in the third quarter of 2014, and the organization’s annual 2015 Threats Predictions for the coming year. The report details a third quarter filled with threat development milestones and cyber events exploiting long-established Internet trust standards. McAfee Labs forecasts a 2015 threat landscape shaped by more attacks exploiting these standards, new attack surfaces in mobile and Internet of Things (IoT), and increasingly sophisticated cyber espionage capabilities, including techniques capable of evading sandboxing detection technologies.

  • Improving defense of the U.S. cyber infrastructure

    Florida Institute of Technology Associate Professor Marco Carvalho has been awarded a $730,000, two-year contract by DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) to design a cyberdefense framework that will allow multiple organizations in both civilian and government sectors unprecedented levels of coordination in their efforts to protect the nation’s cyber infrastructure.

  • Coordinated cyberattacks by Iran-based hackers on global critical infrastructure

    Irvine, California-based cybersecurity firm Cylance last week released a report detailing coordinated attacks by hackers with ties to Iran on more than fifty targets in sixteen countries around the globe. Victim organizations were found in a variety of critical industries, with most attacks on airlines and airports, energy, oil and gas, telecommunications companies, government agencies and universities.

  • Growing cybersecurity threats offer opportunities for cybersecurity businesses

    A 2013 report from the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team(US-CERT) noted that the number of cyberattacks reported by federal agencies had skyrocketed 782 percent since 2006, to nearly 49,000, in 2012. Today, the figure is much higher. The increasing threat of cyberattacks from domestic and foreign actors has opened up opportunities for cybersecurity professionals, many of whom held positions with the U.S. military or intelligence agencies. For the private sector, cybersecurity spending is expected to reach $71.1 billion this year, and expected to grow about 9 percent annually through 2016.

  • DOJ’s new cyber unit to provide legal guidance on electronic surveillance

    The Justice Department is creating a cybersecurity unit within its Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) to provide legal guidance on electronic surveillance investigations.The unit will also work with Congress on cybersecurity legislation and focus on cybercrime prevention.

  • China says U.S. does not appreciate China’s own vulnerability to cyberattacks

    At the seventh annual China-U.S. Internet Industry Forum held on 2-3 December, Lu Wei, minister of China’s Cyberspace Affairs Administration, which manages Internet information in China, urged U.S. officials and the private sector to stop claiming Chinese cyberespionage against U.S. systems and instead understand China’s Internet information policies. China has become the world’s largest Internet market with over four million websites, 600 million Web users, and four of the world’s top ten Internet firms.

  • FBI cautions U.S. firms of hackers trying to overwrite companies’ data files

    On Monday, several cybersecurity officers of U.S. businesses received a five-page “flash” warning from the FBI to be cautious of hackers that may use malware to override all data on hard drives of computers, including the master boot record, which prevents them from booting up. “The overwriting of the data files will make it extremely difficult and costly, if not impossible, to recover the data using standard forensic methods,” the warning read.

  • Hackers well-versed in Wall Street vernacular hack publicly traded companies

    Security firm FireEye’s recent reporton a group of hackers who have been infiltrating e-mail correspondence from more than 100 organizations, differs from the company’s previous reportson cyber criminals operating from China or Russia. This time, the hackers are based in North America or Western Europe, and are well-versed in Wall Street vernacular. The hackers, who FireEye named “FIN4” because they are one of many groups that hack for financial gain, targeted mostly publicly traded healthcare or pharmaceutical companies, along with their advisory firms, in pursuit of information that could affect global financial markets.