Tag Archives: 199

[ISN] A disaster foretold — and ignored

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/business/2015/06/22/net-of-insecurity-part-3/ By Craig Timberg The Washington Post June 22, 2015 The seven young men sitting before some of Capitol Hill’s most powerful lawmakers weren’t graduate students or junior analysts from some think tank. No, Space Rogue, Kingpin, Mudge and the others were hackers who had come from the mysterious environs of cyberspace to deliver a terrifying warning to the world. Your computers, they told the panel of senators in May 1998, are not safe — not the software, not the hardware, not the networks that link them together. The companies that build these things don’t care, the hackers continued, and they have no reason to care because failure costs them nothing. And the federal government has neither the skill nor the will to do anything about it. “If you’re looking for computer security, then the Internet is not the place to be,” said Mudge, then 27 and looking like a biblical prophet with long brown hair flowing past his shoulders. The Internet itself, he added, could be taken down “by any of the seven individuals seated before you” with 30 minutes of well-choreographed keystrokes. The senators — a bipartisan group including John Glenn, Joseph I. Lieberman and Fred D. Thompson — nodded gravely, making clear that they understood the gravity of the situation. “We’re going to have to do something about it,” Thompson said. […]




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[ISN] GCHQ spies given immunity from anti-hacking laws

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/internet-security/11612659/GCHQ-spies-given-immunity-from-anti-hacking-laws.html By Sophie Curtis The Telegraph 18 May 2015 The government has quietly rewritten a key clause of the Computer Misuse Act, giving GCHQ staff, intelligence officers and police immunity from prosecution for hacking into computers and mobile phones. The Computer Misuse Act, which came into effect in 1990, states that gaining unauthorised access to computer material is a criminal offence, punishable by up to 12 months’ imprisonment and a fine. Until recently, any violation of this Act was required to be by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides a right to respect for one’s “private and family life, his home and his correspondence”, subject to certain restrictions that are “in accordance with law”. In May 2014, campaign group Privacy International, along with seven internet and communications service providers, filed complaints with the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, challenging GCHQ’s hacking activities, (exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013). […]


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[ISN] Update: Credit card terminals have used same password since 1990s

http://www.computerworld.com/article/2913808/malware-vulnerabilities/credit-card-terminals-have-used-same-password-since-1990s.html By Martyn Williams IDG News Service April 23, 2015 While retailers battle breaches that have resulted in tens of millions of credit card numbers stolen, word comes from the RSA Conference in San Francisco that a major vendor of payment terminals has been shipping devices for over two decades with the same default password. The vendor wasn’t named by the researchers, David Byrne and Charles Henderson, but they did disclose the password: 166816. A Google search reveals that’s the default password for several models of credit card terminal sold by Verifone, a Silicon Valley-based vendor that says it connects 27 million payment devices and has operations in 150 countries. In a statement on Thursday, Verifone acknowledged that all its devices in the field came with the same default password, which the company said was Z66831. Over the years, the password has become known and can be found on the Internet along with instructions for programming terminals, Verifone said. […]


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[ISN] China Reveals Its Cyberwar Secrets

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/18/china-reveals-its-cyber-war-secrets.html By Shane Harris The Daily Beast March 18, 2015 A high-level Chinese military organization has for the first time formally acknowledged that the country’s military and its intelligence community have specialized units for waging war on computer networks. China’s hacking exploits, particularly those aimed at stealing trade secrets from U.S. companies, have been well known for years, and a source of constant tension between Washington and Beijing. But Chinese officials have routinely dismissed allegations that they spy on American corporations or have the ability to damage critical infrastructure, such as electrical power grids and gas pipelines, via cyber attacks. Now it appears that China has dropped the charade. “This is the first time we’ve seen an explicit acknowledgement of the existence of China’s secretive cyber-warfare forces from the Chinese side,” says Joe McReynolds, who researches the country’s network warfare strategy, doctrine, and capabilities at the Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis. McReynolds told The Daily Beast the acknowledgement of China’s cyber operations is contained in the latest edition of an influential publication, The Science of Military Strategy, which is put out by the top research institute of the People’s Liberation Army and is closely read by Western analysts and the U.S. intelligence community. The document is produced “once in a generation,” McReynolds said, and is widely seen as one of the best windows into Chinese strategy. The Pentagon cited the previous edition (PDF), published in 1999, for its authoritative description of China’s “comprehensive view of warfare,” which includes operations in cyberspace. […]


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[ISN] Surprise! America Already Has a Manhattan Project for Developing Cyber Attacks

http://www.wired.com/2015/02/americas-cyber-espionage-project-isnt-defense-waging-war By Kevin Poulsen Threat Level Wired.com 02.18.15 “What we really need is a Manhattan Project for cybersecurity.” It’s a sentiment that swells up every few years in the wake of some huge computer intrusion—most recently the Sony and Anthem hacks. The invocation of the legendary program that spawned the atomic bomb is telling. The Manhattan Project is America’s go-to shorthand for our deep conviction that if we gather the smartest scientists together and give them billions of dollars and a sense of urgency, we can achieve what otherwise would be impossible. A Google search on “cyber Manhattan Project” brings up results from as far back as 1997—it’s second only to “electronic Pearl Harbor” in computer-themed World War II allusions. In a much-circulated post on Medium last month, futurist Marc Goodman sets out what such a project would accomplish. “This Manhattan Project would help generate the associated tools we need to protect ourselves, including more robust, secure, and privacy-enhanced operating systems,” Goodman writes. “Through its research, it would also design and produce software and hardware that were self-healing and vastly more resistant to attack and resilient to failure than anything available today.” These arguments have so far not swayed a sitting American president. Sure, President Obama mentioned cybersecurity at the State of the Union, but his proposal not only doesn’t boost security research and development, it potentially criminalizes it. At the White House’s cybersecurity summit last week, Obama told Silicon Valley bigwigs that he understood the hacking problem well—“We all know what we need to do. We have to build stronger defenses and disrupt more attacks”—but his prescription this time was a tepid executive order aimed at improving information sharing between the government and industry. Those hoping for something more Rooseveltian must have been disappointed. On Monday, we finally learned the truth of it. America already has a computer security Manhattan Project. We’ve had it since at least 2001. Like the original, it has been highly classified, spawned huge technological advances in secret, and drawn some of the best minds in the country. We didn’t recognize it before because the project is not aimed at defense, as advocates hoped. Instead, like the original, America’s cyber Manhattan Project is purely offensive. […]


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[ISN] The World’s Email Encryption Software Relies on One Guy, Who is Going Broke

http://www.propublica.org/article/the-worlds-email-encryption-software-relies-on-one-guy-who-is-going-broke By Julia Angwin ProPublica Feb. 5, 2015 Update, Feb. 5, 2015, 8:10 p.m.: After this article appeared, Werner Koch informed us that last week he was awarded a one-time grant of $60,000 from Linux Foundation’s Core Infrastructure Initiative. Werner told us he only received permission to disclose it after our article published. Meanwhile, since our story was posted, donations flooded Werner’s website donation page and he reached his funding goal of $137,000. In addition, Facebook and the online payment processor Stripe each pledged to donate $50,000 a year to Koch’s project. The man who built the free email encryption software used by whistleblower Edward Snowden, as well as hundreds of thousands of journalists, dissidents and security-minded people around the world, is running out of money to keep his project alive. Werner Koch wrote the software, known as Gnu Privacy Guard, in 1997, and since then has been almost single-handedly keeping it alive with patches and updates from his home in Erkrath, Germany. Now 53, he is running out of money and patience with being underfunded. “I’m too idealistic,” he told me in an interview at a hacker convention in Germany in December. “In early 2013 I was really about to give it all up and take a straight job.” But then the Snowden news broke, and “I realized this was not the time to cancel.” […]


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[ISN] Finally, a New Clue to Solve the CIA’s Mysterious Kryptos Sculpture

http://www.wired.com/2014/11/second-kryptos-clue/ By Kim Zetter Threat Level Wired.com 11.20.14 In 1989, the year the Berlin Wall began to fall, American artist Jim Sanborn was busy working on his Kryptos sculpture, a cryptographic puzzle wrapped in a riddle that he created for the CIA’s headquarters and that has been driving amateur and professional cryptographers mad ever since. To honor the 25th anniversary of the Wall’s demise and the artist’s 69th birthday this year, Sanborn has decided to reveal a new clue to help solve his iconic and enigmatic artwork. It’s only the second hint he’s released since the sculpture was unveiled in 1990 and may finally help unlock the fourth and final section of the encrypted sculpture, which frustrated sleuths have been struggling to crack for more than two decades. The 12-foot-high, verdigrised copper, granite and wood sculpture on the grounds of the CIA complex in Langley, Virginia, contains four encrypted messages carved out of the metal, three of which were solved years ago. The fourth is composed of just 97 letters, but its brevity belies its strength. Even the NSA, whose master crackers were the first to decipher other parts of the work, gave up on cracking it long ago. So four years ago, concerned that he might not live to see the mystery of Kryptos resolved, Sanborn released a clue to help things along, revealing that six of the last 97 letters when decrypted spell the word “Berlin”—a revelation that many took to be a reference to the Berlin Wall. To that clue today, he’s adding the next word in the sequence—“clock”—that may or may not throw a wrench in this theory. Now the Kryptos sleuths just have to unscramble the remaining 86 characters to find out. […]


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[ISN] Why Health Data Security Still Has Catching Up To Do

http://healthitsecurity.com/2014/11/17/health-data-security-still-catching/ By Elizabeth Snell Health IT Security November 17, 2014 There is no question that the healthcare industry and its subsequent health data security options have made great strides over the last several years. However, with cyber thieves more interested than ever before in medical information, it is essential for healthcare organizations to go beyond the standard HIPAA compliance standards. Mark Ford, Principle of Deloitte Cyber Risk Services, specializes in the healthcare industry and discussed the current cyber threats and health data security issues with HealthITSecurity.com. According to Ford, the healthcare sector has come a long way in the last five years alone. However, the industry is still behind others – such as manufacturing and financial services – in terms of implementing the necessary cyber risk prevention measures. “What I’ve seen over time is the industry is making progress,” Ford said. “It’s still kind of slow, it’s more reactive, and has a more compliant focus still. There’s a pretty significant gap between where they are today and where they ultimately need to be. The only way to close that gap is to obviously understand what it is and does to make sure they can lift themselves up to another level of maturity in the future.” For example, Ford explained that from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, approximately 70 percent of the online threats to the healthcare industry were from insider threats. The rest was relegated to hacker threats. However, that has shifted as there are now different types of hackers. […]


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