Hackers | Homeland Security Newswire

  • Considered opinion: Election questionsWhy political scientists aren’t writing about Russian hackers

    By Robert G. Boatright

    Political scientists who study election mechanics — — campaign finance, what polling data have to do with voting, how different population groups vote, how effective political advertisements are — are yet to come to grips with the role Russian government agents played in the 2016 election. Clark University political scientists Robert Boatright writes that “We don’t have the ability to track exactly what went on over Twitter or Facebook in the election, which accounts were real and which were fake. And … we may not regain the sort of transparency that enabled us to study elections with the precision we once did. We don’t really have any precedent for studying what a foreign government might do to influence an American campaign in this way because it hasn’t been done before in the United States. Maybe we’ll get there in a few years, but for now, all we know is that our research is more likely than usual to be incomplete.”

  • Election security11-year old took 10 minutes to hack a replica of Florida's election reporting website

    DEFCON, the world’s largest hacking convention, took place in Las Vegas over the weekend. Emmett Brewer, one of about 40 children between the ages of 8 and 16 who were taking part in the event, took less than 10 minutes to hack into a replica of Florida’s election reporting website. An 11-year old girl also managed to break into the site, tripling the number of votes for one of the candidates. Several 8-year old kids managed to tamper with vote tallies and change candidates’ names.

  • The Russian connectionRussian spy software in U.S. home and office routers

    The Russian government hackers known as APT 28 or Fancy Bear – the operatives who were behind information attacks against the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton Campaign, among others – have infiltrated hundreds of thousands of home and office routers worldwide. The presence of Russian malware on the routers could enable the Kremlin to steal individuals’ data or enlist their devices in a massive attack intended to disrupt global economic activity or target institutions.

  • CybersecuritySecurity gaps identified in internet protocol IPsec

    Researchers have demonstrated that the Internet protocol “IPsec” is vulnerable to attacks. The Internet Key Exchange protocol “IKEv1,” which is part of the protocol family, has vulnerabilities that enable potential attackers to interfere with the communication process and intercept specific information.

  • CybersecurityIntel processor vulnerability could expose millions of PCs at risk

    A newly discovered processor vulnerability could potentially put secure information at risk in any Intel-based PC manufactured since 2008. It could affect users who rely on a digital lockbox feature known as Intel Software Guard Extensions, or SGX, as well as those who utilize common cloud-based services, a new report says.

  • Election securityNew bill to help protect security of U.S. elections

    On Friday, four members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) introduced the Secure Elections Act, which would provide local communities and state governments with the resources needed to strengthen election systems against cyberattacks. “Hostile foreign actors have attempted and will continue to attempt to undermine the fundamentals of our democracy by attacking our electoral process,” said Representative Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina), one of the bill’s sponsors. “It is our responsibility to take every precaution necessary to safeguard our elections and ensure no vote count is ever interfered with.

  • Space weaponsHacked satellite could launch microwave-like attacks

    The satellite communications which ships, planes, and the military use to connect to the internet are vulnerable to hackers which, in the worst-case scenario, could carry out “cyber-physical attacks,” turning satellite antennas into weapons which operate, in effect, like microwave ovens. An expert speaking at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, said that a number of popular satellite communication systems are vulnerable to such attacks, which could also leak information and hack connected devices.

  • Critical infrastructureUrban water services vulnerable to attacks using a botnet of smart commercial irrigation systems

    Cybersecurity researchers warn of a potential distributed attack against urban water services which uses a botnet of smart irrigation systems. The researchers analyzed and found vulnerabilities in a number of commercial smart irrigation systems, which enable attackers to remotely turn watering systems on and off at will. Botnet attacks can also empty an urban water tower in an hour, and empty flood water reservoir overnight.

  • CybersecuritySerious vulnerabilities discovered in WhatsApp, allowing fake attribution, message manipulation

    WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging application, has more than 1.5 billion users with more than one billion groups and 65 billion messages sent every day. With so much chatter, the potential for online scams, unfounded rumors, and fake news is huge. Cybersecurity firm Check Point Research says that it does not help if threat actors have an additional weapon in their arsenal to use the platform for their malicious intentions.

  • The Russia connectionMaryland lawmakers question Russian investment in election technology

    Two lawmakers, Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) have sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin asking that he instruct the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S.(CFIUS), which he chairs, to review a Russian oligarch’s financial stake in ByteGrid, a web hosting company which hosts much of Maryland’s election systems. “ByteGrid hosts Maryland’s voter registration system, candidacy and election management system, online ballot delivery system, and unofficial election night results website. Access to these systems could provide a foreign person with ties to a foreign government with information that could be used for intelligence or other purposes adverse to U.S. interests,” the two senators write.

  • Grid securityAs Russians hack the U.S. grid, a look at what’s needed to protect it

    By Manimaran Govindarasu and Adam Hahn

    The U.S. electricity grid is hard to defend because of its enormous size and heavy dependency on digital communication and computerized control software. The number of potential targets is growing as “internet of things” devices, such as smart meters, solar arrays and household batteries, connect to smart grid systems. In late 2015 and again in 2016, Russian hackers shut down parts of Ukraine’s power grid. In March 2018, federal officials warned that Russians had penetrated the computers of multiple U.S. electric utilities and were able to gain access to critical control systems. Four months later, the Wall Street Journal reported that the hackers’ access had included privileges that were sufficient to cause power outages. It’s important for electric utilities, grid operators and vendors to remain vigilant and deploy multiple layers of defense.

  • The Russia connectionA Mueller-like criminal investigation into Russia’s meddling in U.K. politics needed: MP

    British lawmaker calls for launching a criminal investigation in the U.K., modelled after the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the United States, to explore the reach and extent of Russia’s efforts to interfere in British democracy. Damian Collins, a Conservative MP, said that only a police investigation, with the power to seize documents and subpoena witnesses, could ascertain the scope of any Kremlin-orchestrated campaign to influence the 2016 referendum over Britain’s membership in the EU. Such an investigation, he said, would also ensure that future elections were protected from attack by foreign powers.

  • CybersecurityMaking phrase-based passwords more user friendly for better online security

    Although passphrases, or phrase-based passwords, have been found to be more secure than traditional passwords, human factors issues such as typographical errors and memorability have slowed their wider adoption. Researchers have developed and tested two new passphrase systems that seek to address these shortcomings and improve the usability and security of existing passphrase authentication systems.

  • Grid securityToward a more secure electrical grid

    Not long ago, getting a virus was about the worst thing computer users could expect in terms of system vulnerability. But in our current age of hyper-connectedness and the emerging Internet of Things, that’s no longer the case. With connectivity, a new principle has emerged, one of universal concern to those who work in the area of systems control. That law says, essentially, that the more complex and connected a system is, the more susceptible it is to disruptive cyber-attacks.

  • The Russia connectionU.S. national security leaders on Russia’s attacks: "Our democracy itself is in the crosshairs”

    In joint press briefing in the White House on Thursday, the leaders of U.S. intelligence and national security offered a detailed and disturbing picture of Russia’s on-going meddling in U.S. politics, and the efforts by Russian government hackers and disinformation specialists to shape the outcome of the 2018 congressional midterms elections. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Russia is engaging in “pervasive messaging campaign to try to weaken and divide the United States.” DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said: “Our democracy itself is in the crosshairs.” President Donald Trump, speaking at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania a few hours after the briefing at the White House, dismissed the judgement of the U.S. intelligence and national security leaders. “In Helsinki, I had a great meeting with Putin. We discussed everything,” Trump said to cheers from the crowd. “We got along really well… Now, we are being hindered by the Russian hoax. It’s a hoax, okay?”