• NERC’s critical infrastructure protection standards ambiguous, unclear: analysts

    In January 2008, to counter cybersecurity threats to critical infrastructure assets such as bulk electricity supply (BES), North American Electric Reliability Corp.’s (NERC) launched its Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) standards for BES cybersecurity. The NERC-CIP is marked by uncertainties and ambiguous language, raising concerns in the industry and among industry observers as companies try to enforce the standards. “Industry now screams for a defined control set with very specific requirements that don’t permit subjective and ambiguous interpretations,” comments one analyst.

  • Cybersecurity isn’t all about doom and gloom

    Much is made in the press of the devastating effects that weak cybersecurity is having on the economy in the United Kingdom and globally. The threat is compounded by a significant skills shortage. The U.K. government thinks the problem is so severe that it has identified cybersecurity as a Tier 1 national security threat and invested 860 million pounds to defend the country’s digital shores. What all this means is that there is money to be made from cybersecurity and small businesses should not fear it but embrace it. The business opportunities are boundless in cybersecurity. One area that is promising in this sense is the move towards smart cities. As the infrastructure around us, such as traffic lights and utilities becomes more regularly controlled via computers, market opportunities emerge

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  • New Silicon Valley focus on cybersecurity

    The last time Silicon Valley focused on cybersecurity was in the 1990s. That focus saw the emergence of two giants: McAfee and Symantec. The two companies remain the most recognizable household names, thanks to their traditional firewall and anti-virus products. Now they find the arena which they thought was their own encroached from two sides. On one side there are tech giants like Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems, which see new revenue opportunity in cybersecurity. On the other side there is a rush of start-ups backed by large investments of venture capital.

  • Cyberweapons to defend electricity's perimeter

    Cyber war, cyber terror, and cyber crime target all manner of operations and, by design, cannot be detected until they have already done their damage. Nobody is immune to such attacks, and particularly target-rich environments include government bodies and critical power industries such as bulk electricity supply (BES). Hackers and cyberdefenders clash just outside of, at, or inside an organization’s electronic security perimeter (ESP). To counter such threats, a bulk electricity solution — North American Electric Reliability Corp.’s (NERC) Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) standards regarding BES cybersecurity — was launched in January 2008 through Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) oversight. How effective is the use of cyberweapons in protecting electricity’s perimeter?

  • EU issues new manual for defending ICS against cyberattacks

    ENISA, the EU’s cybersecurity agency, has issued a new manual for better mitigating attacks on Industrial Control Systems (ICS). ICS support vital industrial processes primarily in the area of critical information infrastructure such as the energy and chemical transportation industries, where sufficient knowledge is often lacking. As ICS are now often connected to Internet platforms, additional security preparations must be taken. ENISA says that the new guide provides the necessary key considerations for a team charged with ICS Computer Emergency Response Capabilities (ICS-CERC).

  • Cybersecurity Manhattan Project needed

    On a daily basis, cyberattacks successfully steal U.S. intellectual property and military weapons plans, disrupt banking systems operations, and gain access to personal information which is supposed to be secure. The question: What it will take to harness America’s resources to push the country into developing effective national cyberdefense capabilities? Should it take another 9/11? Experts say that the whole must be greater than the sum of its parts. Power grid cyberattack exercises, increased cyberwarrior staffing at U.S. Cybercom, and the authorization of preemptive cyberattacks by Presidential Policy Directive 20 are individually good steps. But where is the whole? The unifying call to action? The United States may not be able to have another Manhattan Project, but it should be able to develop a Manhattan Project mentality, one which is orchestrated and executed by the U.S. cybersecurity czar or perhaps the DHS.

  • DHS struggling to respond to cybersecurity threats: IG

    A recent reportby DHS inspector general (IG) has documented the agency’s struggle to respond to cybersecurity threats and its inability to disseminate information about threats because of technical, funding, and staffing challenges.

  • Making cybersecurity a political issue

    U.S. federal agencies have reported a dramatic rise in the number of cyberattacks over the past few years, with reported cyber incidents rising from 5,503 in 2006 to 48,562 in 2012. Since cyber incidents pose such a threat to national security and infrastructure, could cybersecurity become a political campaign issue? Experts say that if politicians were to focus their attention, and their constituents’ attention, on cybersecurity, the United States could be made safer from cyberattacks before a “cyber Pearl Harbor” – or a “cyber 9/11” – occurs.

  • IID raises $8 million to scale shared cyberintelligence offering

    Despite the growing danger posed by cybercrime, information vital to stemming the tide is fragmented across the Internet today. Pockets of data about threat activity are siloed within the repositories of individual enterprises, government organizations, vendor networks, and research institutions. IID’s ActiveTrust enables enterprises and government agencies to combat the rising frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks by sharing cyber incident data in real time. IID has raised $8 million in Series A funding from Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP), and said it will use the investment to accommodate growing demand for ActiveTrust.

  • Many Android vulnerabilities result from manufacturer modifications

    Computer security researchers have found that Android smartphone manufacturers are inadvertently incorporating new vulnerabilities into their products when they customize the phones before sale, according to a recent study. On average, the researchers found that 60 percent of the vulnerabilities found in the smartphone models they evaluated were due to such “vendor customizations.”

  • Resources on disaster preparedness, resilience

    One year after Superstorm Sandy hit the eastern United States, local, state, and federal agencies as well as community groups and businesses are working to strengthen the U.S.s resilience to future disasters. A National Research Council (NRC) has issues a series of studies and reports, and has put together workshops and study groups, which should advance the national conversation on preparedness and resilience.

  • Bill bolsters DHS’s cybersecurity workforce

    A House panel recently approved HR 3107, a bill aiming to bolster DHS’s cybersecurity workforce. The House Homeland Security Committeeamended the Homeland Security Cybersecurity Boots-on-the-Ground Actto expand DHS’ outreach to candidates for IT security jobs by creating a tuition-for-work fellowship and a program to recruit military veterans and unemployed IT specialists for DHS employment.

  • DDoS protection specialist Black Lotus raises $3.5 million

    San Francisco-based Black Lotus, a DDoS protection specialist, last week announced the completion of its first institutional financing in the amount of $3.5 million. The round was led by San Francisco-based Industry Capital. The strategic investment will fund entry into new markets, where Black Lotus will deploy additional capacity and improve quality of service through peering and closer proximity to global partner networks.

  • Cyber Grand Challenge for automated network security-correcting systems

    What if computers had a “check engine” light that could indicate new, novel security problems? What if computers could go one step further and heal security problems before they happen? To find out, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) intends to hold the Cyber Grand Challenge (CGC) — the first-ever tournament for fully automatic network defense systems. The Challenge will see teams creating automated systems that would compete against each other to evaluate software, test for vulnerabilities, generate security patches, and apply them to protected computers on a network. The winning team in the CGC finals would receive a cash prize of $2 million, with second place earning $1 million and third place taking home $750,000.

  • McAfee executive to fill DHS cybersecurity post

    DHS has will announce the appointment of a top McAfee executive to head the department’s cybersecurity division, according to knowledgeable sources. Phyllis Schneck, McAfee vice president and the company’s CTO for the public sector, is slated to fill a post that has been characterized by instability and lack of clarity about scope and responsibilities.