Category Archives: cybersecurity

Zero Day Exploits – time to pause internal development projects?

From the WP series on Zero Day:

In recent years, there has been one stunning revelation after the next about how such unknown vulnerabilities were used to break into systems that were assumed to be secure.

One came in 2009, targeting Google, Northrop Grumman, Dow Chemical and hundreds of other firms. Hackers from China took advantage of a flaw in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser and used it to penetrate the targeted computer systems. Over several months, the hackers siphoned off oceans of data, including the source code that runs Google’s systems.

Another attack last year took aim at cybersecurity giant RSA, which protects most of the Fortune 500 companies. That vulnerability involved Microsoft Excel, a spreadsheet program. The outcome was the same: A zero-day exploit enabled hackers to secretly infiltrate RSA’s computers and crack the security it sold. The firm had to pay $66 million in the following months to remediate client problems.

Makes one wonder how organizations are to develop their websites and applications and keep the secure.

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Unintentional Risk

Yep — the leading cause of cyber security breaches — per RSA study (tip to BBC):

The security vendor RSA revealed that the majority of breaches are actually caused unintentionally by employees.

Its survey showed that firms believed 52% of incidents were accidental and 19% were deliberate.

“Unintentional risk gets overlooked, yet it’s the most serious threat to business,” said the RSA’s Chris Young.

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What did we learn in security school today? Sharing!

Imagine, sharing information to overcome a threat.  Post story notes increased cooperation between  military, private sectors.

“We shared with them the fact that we’ve got a very, very aggressive cyber threat,” said Robert Lentz, a Pentagon official who heads the partnership. The Pentagon soon will seek to amend defense acquisition rules to require cybersecurity standards for firms seeking contracts. “The sooner we all understand what’s required to protect the information in our networks, and we teach this in universities and in businesses, the better off we all will be, down to the Internet user at home,” Robert Lentz said. (a Pentagon official who heads the partnership)

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Cyber Sec – Collaborative approach with some tought love

At least, that is the summary of this article from the BBC:

  • “We have seen some good initiatives from industry on improving the trustworthiness of software. What I am hoping to see from government with this new post is more involvement in standards and education efforts in security.” Benjamin Jun, Cryptology Research
  • “We need to have a new security paradigm in the future,We need to have a clear idea of what our society should be at the end of the decade so this problem is addressed adequately. We must use this crisis to make the right changes.”  Mark Cohn, VP Enterprise Security, Unisys
  • “The first order of business has to be to draw attention to the subject and then start working with all the agencies and organisations throughout industry and government. You have to be able to kick all these different groups in the seat of the pants to get them moving in the same direction.” Ken Silva, CTO – Verisign
  • “A key component will be co-operation and collaboration. There has been an ad hoc approach to this in law enforcement with perpetrators of a digital breach in one country while the act has happened in another.” Liesyl Franz  — Tech America

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Weaponization of the Internet

Guess when this was written?

We are at risk. Increasingly, America depends on computers. They control power delivery, communications, aviation, and financial services. They are used to store vital information, from medical records to business plans to criminal records. Although we trust them, they are vulnerable—to the effects of poor design and insufficient quality control, to accident, and perhaps more alarmingly, to deliberate attack. The modern thief can steal more with a computer than with a gun. Tomorrow’s terrorist may be able to do more damage with a keyboard than with a bomb.


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Using Education to expand broadband

Seems Internet2, EduCause, and a bunch of other folks want to be the driver (as this whitepaper says)  for the ARRA Broadband initiative:

The potential for America’s future is limitless if we support the unique innovative strengths of our colleges and universities, working with other public and private sector partners to expand access to and breadth of broadband services for all of America. The robust advanced network infrastructure put into place by the research and education community and its partners is ready to
serve as the foundation and springboard for the nation’s broadband strategy under the ARRA.  We have a cohesive and comprehensive plan and the engine is ready. All that is needed is the
fuel to drive it. Our institutions of higher education are the right core engine to launch the ARRA broadband strategy.

Check out this paper on Cybersecurity

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Hathaway gives away little in remarks to RSA

In her remarks, she made lots of references to Mission Impossible (e.g. this message will self destruct).  But the only real substance is contained here:

  • It is the fundamental responsibility of our government to address strategic vulnerabilities in cyberspace and to ensure that the United States and the world can realize the full potential
    of the information technology revolution.
  • no single agency has a broad enough perspective to match the sweep of the challenges
  • requires leading from the top — from the White House, to Departments and Agencies, State, local, tribal governments, the C-Suite, and to the local classroom and library
  • We need to explain the challenges and discuss what the Nation can do to solve problems in a way that the American people can appreciate the need for action
  • There is a unique opportunity for the United States to work with countries around the world to make the digital infrastructure a safe and secure place that drives prosperity and innovation for all nations
  • Government and industry leaders, both here and abroad, need to delineate roles and responsibilities, balance capabilities, and take ownership of the problem to develop holistic solutions
  • Building toward the architecture of the future requires research and development that focuses on game-changing technologies that could enhance the security, reliability, resilience and trustworthiness of our digital infrastructure.

and here:

  • Can we call for changes in widely shared norms?
  • Are we ready to talk openly about the challenges we face and how we share the
    responsibility for reversing the trend?
  • Can we create the conditions where innovation and security are mutually reinforcing and
    treat them as an integrated and synergistic whole?
  • Can government and the private sector, national and international parties, accelerate the
    changes we need?
  • And, if not us, then who?
  • If not now, then when?

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