Information warfare

  • Sony hackingSony cancels Christmas release of “The Interview”

    Sony Pictures announced it has cancelled the Christmas release of “The Interview,” the a film at the center of a hacking campaign, after dire threats to moviegoers and a decision by major movie theater groups to cancel screenings in the United States. “Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private e-mails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale — all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like,” the company said in a statement.

  • CyberwarNew cyber test range trains soldiers for simultaneous cyber and combat operations

    A unique mix of training technologies sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) is preparing front-line soldiers to conduct cyber and combat operations simultaneously, as Marines demonstrated during a recent amphibious exercise off the coast of Virginia. During last month’s Bold Alligator exercise, Marines used ONR’s Tactical Cyber Range to emulate adversary communications hidden in a noisy, dense electromagnetic spectrum —as much a battleground in today’s digital world as any piece of land.

  • CyberattacksSony hackers threaten attacks against movie goers who plan to see “The Interview”

    The hackers who attacked Sony networks are now threatening an attack on people who plan to go to see the movie “The Interview.” The hackers write in their message that they “recommend you to keep yourself distant” from movie theaters showing the movie. The hackers earlier promised to deliver a “Christmas gift.” It was not clear what they had in mind – some suggested they would release another batch of embarrassing data from Sony’s files — but it now looks as if the “gift” might well be a cyberattack on movie theaters.

  • Cyberattacks2008 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.

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  • CybersecurityImproving 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.

  • CybersecurityCoordinated 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.

  • CybersecurityChina 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.

  • CybersecurityU.S. Army creates a Cyber branch

    Soldiers who want to defend the nation in cyberspace, as part of the U.S. Army’s newest and most technologically advanced career field, now have an Army branch to join that will take its place alongside infantry, artillery, and the other Army combat arms branches. Army Secretary John McHugh and Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno approved the creation of the Cyber branch in September. “The establishment of a Cyber Branch shows how important and critical the cyber mission is to our Army, and allows us to focus innovative recruiting, retention, leader development, and talent management needed to produce world-class cyberspace professionals,” said Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon, the commanding general of Army Cyber Command.

  • CybersecurityIran may resume cyberattacks on U.S. if nuclear deal is not reached

    A failure for the United States to reach a nuclear deal with Iran could result in more cyberattacks against U.S. companies, House Intelligence Committeechairman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) said. Cyberattacks by Tehran declined dramatically after the United States, other permanent members of the Security Council, and Germany agreed to an interim nuclear deal with Iran in 2013, but should the parties fail to reach a permanent nuclear deal by the newly set March 2015 and July 2015 deadlines, financial firms, oil and gas companies, and water filtration systems could be targets of malware from Iran’s cyber army.

  • Offensive cyber operationsPentagon mulls “byte for a byte” cyber retaliatory operations

    Much has been made of the phrase “an eye for an eye” throughout history, and it is beginning to appear that the oft-used motto will extend to the new fields of cyber warfare as well.This “approach is something our adversaries will readily understand,” one analyst writes. “If they escalate, we escalate. They know they will lose because we have far more cyber resources to draw on than they have, and we can cause real harm if they mess with us.”

  • Critical infrastructureNSA director: China and “one or two” other nations can damage U.S. critical infrastructure

    Adm. Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency and head of U.S. Cyber Command, told lawmakers yesterday that China and “one or two” other countries are capable of mounting cyberattacks which would paralyze the U.S electric grid and other critical infrastructure systems across the country. A cyberattacks of such scope has been discussed in the past – it was even dubbed a “cyber Pearl Harbor” – but Rogers was the first high official to confirm that such a crippling attack on the United States was not a mere speculation. Rogers said U.S. adversaries are conducting electronic “reconnaissance” on a regular basis so that they will be well-positioned to damage and disrupt the industrial control systems which run chemical facilities, nuclear power plants, water treatment facilities, dams, and much more.

  • CybersecurityU.S. spends about $10 billion a year to protect the nation's digital infrastructure

    U.S. intelligence agencies have designated cyberattacks as the most alarming threat to national security. The federal government is spending roughly $10 billion a year to protect the nation’s digital infrastructure, but hackers, some sponsored by nation-states, are successfully infiltrating civilian and military networks.Professionals from DHS, the Pentagon, and private contractors all work together in U.S. cyber centers to detect, prevent, respond, and mitigate incoming and existing cyberattacks. Several of the U.S. top cybersecurity labs are housed in nondescript office buildings with no government seals or signs.

  • CybersecurityDifferences between hacking, state-sponsored cyberwarfare increasingly blurred: Experts

    Cybersecurity officials say that there is an increasing similarity between hacking attacks and full-on cyber warfare, as digital infrastructures continue to grow and play a larger role in everyday life. “It’s not a clear, bright red line,” said Mitchell Silber, the executive managing director of K2 Intelligence, “It really is more murky, the difference between where a cyber criminal hack ends and where some type of state or state-sponsored event begins.”

  • CybersecurityThe best cyberdefense is cyber offense, some experts say

    In response to the surge in cyberattacks against the U.S. private sector, some firms are exploring “active defense” measures which they hope will send a message to hackers.Some cyber analysts say tougher defense will not deter new cyberattacks, and some sort of offensive action is needed. “I think you are morally justified for sure” in taking such actions, a former high DHS official says. “And I think the probability of being prosecuted is very low.” If a firm locates its stolen data and is capable of recovering it, “they would be crazy not to.”

  • CybersecurityRussian government hackers insert malware in U.S. critical infrastructure control software

    Investigators have uncovered a Trojan Horse named BlackEnergy in the software that runs much of the U.S. critical infrastructure. In a worst case scenario, the malware could shut down oil and gas pipelines, power transmission grids, water distribution and filtration systems, and wind turbines, causing an economic catastrophe. Some industry insiders learned of the intrusion last week via a DHS alert bulletin issued by the agency’s Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team(ICS-CERT). The BlackEnergy penetration had recently been detected by several companies. Experts say Russia has placed the malware in key U.S. systems as a threat or a deterrent to a U.S. cyberattack on Russian systems – mutual assured destruction from a cold war-era playbook.