Category Archives: cybersecurity

Hacking as a policy tool

Austria wants to give their police “hacking” powers:

“Police will also be able to gain remote access to computers for seven days at a time, up to a total of 28 days or longer in exceptional circumstances, to allow them, to undertake forensic off-site examiniation,” Rees said.

“This could including cracking codes and searching computers for evidence of child porn, drug running, and money laundering.”

Offenses covered by the new laws include the supply, manufacture, or cultivation of drugs; possession, manufacture or sale of firearms; money laundering; car or boat re-birthing; and unauthorized access to or modification of computer data or electronic communications.

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Counterintelligence is not a security issue?

That seems to be what some people within our national security apparatus thinks

Within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence you will find the Office of the National Counter intelligence Executive (ONCIX). ONCIX is headed by Dr. Brenner, the National Counter intelligence Executive and staffed by senior counter intelligence (CI) and other specialists from across the national intelligence and security communities. Dr. Brenner said, there is growing acceptance that we face a cyber counter intelligence problem, not a security problem. He has also stated that about 140 foreign intelligence surveillance organizations currently target the United States. As you may recall we reported earlier that Spy-Ops has estimated that there are currently 140 countries with active cyber warfare programs in place.

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Buddy, did you know your anti-virus has expired?

So — would you want the state police writing you a ticket for failure to secure your computer?  Lawrence Pingree poses an interesting tool to consider.

The government could then scan the IP address space issued in the USA and then it could then issue “fix-it” tickets (similar to what is done today for cars) for Internet connected systems that contained vulnerabilities.

Seriously, how do you embed proper practices into the individual psychie?

Take for example peer-to-peer file sharing programs.  Leakage of data files has occurred over nets constructed by employees trying to “share” some music.  Some call P2P a “national security threat“.  Security experts, however, point to the human side of the security equation:

The problem, experts say, is that employees are violating corporate policy by using P2P at work or on work laptops to download MP3 files, or they take the work laptop home and their children install file-sharing software on it.

Ninety-three percent of P2P disclosures in the enterprise are inadvertent, said Tiversa Brand Director Scott Harrer. “You can’t really guard against human error,” he said.

The NSA is being accused of a power grab with respects to which agency manages cybersecurity.  Not too sure I want them policing my network.  (Does anyone here black helicopters hovering nearby?)

A top federal cybersecurity official resigned this week in a letter sharply critical of what he described as a power grab by the National Security Agency.

Rod Beckström, director of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity Center, said in his letter that NSA “effectively controls DHS cyber efforts through detailees, technology insertions,” and has proposed moving some functions to the agency’s Fort Meade, Md., headquarters.

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Weaponizing the Web

SecurityFix has  a sobering post on systems that are “owned” by gangs in Russia.  Here is the M.O. for such gangs:

In DDoS assaults, cyber gangsters demand tens of thousands of dollars in protection money from businesses. If the businesses refuse to pay, the criminals order hundreds or thousands of compromised computers that they control to flood the Web sites with meaningless traffic, crippling the businesses and preventing legitimate visitors from transacting with the sites.

Those same systems can be bought to attack any target.

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Community Reaction to Adobe Security threat

SecurityFix describes the Adobe vs cybersec community discourse concerning a flaw that was discovered last year.  The organizations noted in this report represent a volunteer group (shadowserver), a proprietary intrusion prevention company (Sourcefire).  No government organizations mentioned regarding an event that touches many users across all organizational sectors.

There is a blog (VRT) that reports on findings from the Sourcefire research team.

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Another hub in the cybersecurity Network

Former Washington Gov. Gary Locke is slated to be appointed Secretary of Commerce:

Experience in technology policy will also be important for the next commerce secretary, Cantwell said, since he will have to appoint the next director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, oversee the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and provide leadership on issues like cybersecurity.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) does important stuff — like set standards and prescriptions such as the new guide on maintaining data security while teleworking.  This riveting 46 page how to is written in “broad language in order to be helpful to any group that engages in telework. (see NIST release)”

In the executive summary you will find the important steps any individual should take before connecting at home or at the local cafe.

  • Before implementing any of the recommendations or suggestions in the guide, users should back up all data and verify the validity of the backups. Readers with little or no experience configuring personal computers, consumer devices, or home networks should seek assistance in applying the recommendations. Every telework device’s existing configuration and environment is unique, so changing its configuration could have unforeseen consequences, including loss of data and loss of device or application functionality.
  • Before teleworking, users should understand not only their organization’s policies and requirements, but also appropriate ways of protecting the organization’s information that they may access.
  • Teleworkers should ensure that all the devices on their wired and wireless home networks are properly secured, as well as the home networks themselves.
  • Teleworkers who use their own desktop or laptop PCs for telework should secure their operating systems and primary applications.
  • Teleworkers who use their own consumer devices for telework should secure them based on the security recommendations from the devices’ manufacturers.
  • Teleworkers should consider the security state of a third-party device before using it for telework.

Each of the steps are reasonable — but who will invest the resources required to make those steps effective?

Standards are being published and have been published for some time.  Yet, breaches continue to occur.  So, is the current status of policy and policy outcomes optimal or do we need to create another paradigm for cybersecurity?

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Filed under broadband, cybersecurity, electronic medical records, federal cyber security, Policy

Security, Privacy, Interoperability

These terms are strongly related, inter-related to be more precise, and have a significant effect upon the level of trust and confidence that any information system engenders with its users.  Separately dealing with each attributed of a network, as though the relationship between each term were independent, is not good design.  Yet, read the following taken from Cnet article on problems building a new healthcare system:

Lawmakers and health care representatives also asked the HISPC to clarify why privacy issues were such a critical part of maintaining electronic health records.

“It seems to me there is a big concern about the digitization of data as separate, but if we have the right security measures, that data is no different from the data physically sitting in my office,” said Herb Conway, a physician who sits on the New Jersey state legislature. “Are we going to be designing laws that interfere with our ability to have interoperability?

“While we appreciate that different states have different rules, we’re trying to find a way to streamline the process so patient treatment is not affected by delays in sharing information,” he said.

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CyberSecurity Updates

Univ Florida – breach – 97,000 id’s

Norton unveils product to help parents manage children’s access to the web.  Has the market done what Government could not?

Citing a Rochester Institute of Technology study that found a huge gap between the percentage of parents versus children who report no online supervision, Symantec says that Online Family is intended to bridge that gap by “fostering communication” between parents and their kids. According to the RIT study, only 7 percent of parents think their children have no online supervision, while 66 percent of kids think they go unsupervised.

Perhaps this tool will alleviate this columnist’s fears (tip to Parry Aftab ) regarding making wireless available throught the house:

It’s not a matter of trust. It’s about trying to be a responsible online parent by keeping cyber-dangers away from vulnerable kids.

However, no matter how weak the signal, Mayhem Manor will have to keep logs for two years of all who access the internet should these proposals become law— primarily for law enforcement to help protect children from predators, the authors say:

“While the Internet has generated many positive changes in the way we communicate and do business, its limitless nature offers anonymity that has opened the door to criminals looking to harm innocent children,” U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said at a press conference on Thursday. “Keeping our children safe requires cooperation on the local, state, federal, and family level.”

However, it seems that the Recording Industry, Motion Picture Industry, and publishers are salivating over this prospect to provide them names, instead of John Does, to occupy the banners of their lawsuits:

So would individuals and companies bringing civil lawsuits, including the Recording Industry Association of America and other large copyright holders, many of which have lobbied for similar data retention laws in other countries.

When filing lawsuits over suspected online piracy, lawyers for the RIAA and other plaintiffs typically have an Internet Protocol address they hope to link with someone’s identity. But if the network operator doesn’t retain the logs, the lawsuit can be derailed.

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Internet Privacy – FTC worried self regulation not working

Lots of tangents from the story on new FTC study on industry policing and advertising their privacy policies:

  • FTC has two votes for regulation or legislation (doubts cast upon self regulation as a tool – public failure)
  • Study thinks companies make the information regarding their privacy policies too difficulty for the average person to find/comprehend (market failure = information assymetry)

Points of interest here:

  • Center for Digital Democracy
  • Future of Privacy Forum

Interesting difference in headlines:

Note to self:  Start an inventory of policy tools in each category of cyber policy

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New Policy Tool for Cyber Security – Bounty Hunting

Microsoft is offer $250,000 for the heads of those responsible for constructing conficker.

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