Cyberwarfare

Cyber War

July 9th, 2015

Cyber war is soon becoming a reality. Recent attack on Sony is just the beginning. Security expert Bruce Schneier mentioned the possible destruction caused by cyber war in his address at the recent InfoSec Europe security conference in London.

“We are in the early years of a cyber war arms race,” he said. “We have seen China attack Github, we have seen countries attacking companies, and I think we are going to see much more of that in the future.”

He also mentioned that countries like North Korea have a natural advantage in this type of cyber warfare because of the basic level of technical infrastructure that they possess.

“North Korea has natural cyber-defenses in that it only has about 1,000 IP addresses, and it has only very few computers so its ‘terrain’ is very defensible. By contrast the U.S. is extremely vulnerable because it has lots of computers and Internet infrastructure.”

Also, some cyber warfare attacks may be carried out by groups (such as terrorist organizations) rather than countries.

“We are living in a world now where we can be attacked and not know if the attacker is a foreign government or just a couple of guys, and that is freaky,” Schneier said. “Technology is spreading capabilities, and the same weapons and tactics are available to everyone.”

In the real world scenario it is difficult to understand who is behind the attacks. Schneier mentioned one incident where Israeli war planes attacked and destroyed a nuclear facility in the Middle East 10 years ago.

“Four years later the Israelis and the U.S. attacked an Iranian uranium enrichment facility plant (at Natanz) using a cyber-weapon (Stuxnet). But the Iranians didn’t know that they had been attacked, let alone who did it,” he said. “Attribution can take weeks or months.”

Types of Cyber Attacks

  • Low focus, low skill attacks – Carried out by newbie
  • Low focus, high skill attacks – Involves identity theft and credit card breaches
  • Low skill, high focus attacks – It generally includes bypassing security measures
  • High focus, high skilled attacks- Most advanced

“To defend against low focus attacks you just need to be more secure than the guy next to you,” said Schneier. “With highly focused attacks this relative security is irrelevant; your security has to beat the attacker’s skill. With a high focus, high skill attack, a sufficiently skilled attacker will always get in. We are all vulnerable.”

Without the ability to attribute attacks, Schneier pointed out that it is also impossible to distinguish between computer network exploitation, a classic data breach where an attacker exploits vulnerabilities to steal things, and computer network attacks, where the attacker’s motivation is to cause damage. It’s the difference between copy *.* and delete *.*, in other words, he said.

Alertsec strengthens security

Alertsec has created a web based encryption service that radically simplifies deployment and management of PC encryption by using industry leading Check Point Full Disk Encryption (former Pointsec) software.

Organizations, especially corporate giants, have to have an information security policy in place that proves they have taken the necessary steps and measures to safeguard the information they gathered. If these policies are not adhered to, the regulators may prosecute.

Alertsec Xpress is used by organizations that have recognized the need to protect their information. Customers range from single-user sole traders and consultants to multinational companies with a large number of offices around the globe. Over 4 million users worldwide use Alertsec Xpress’s Check Point Full Disk Encryption.

 

Skill gap widens for information security professionals

April 9th, 2015

Today, organizations are finding it difficult to manage IT security threats and avoid error. They also face challenges to recover after cyber attack. According to the survey, by 2020 there will be shortfall of 1.5 million information security professionals.

The IT security of companies is being threatened by understaffed workforce and the high level of complexities. (ISC)2 conducted survey polled 3,000 information security professionals and practitioners worldwide.

“Our first workforce study was conducted in 2004 to illuminate critical concerns within the information and cyber security that were struggling for attention,” said Adrian Davis, managing director, Emea, at (ISC)2.

“The 2015 report shows that many of these issues are finally getting much-needed budget and priority, but we are facing new challenges and our skills and staffing challenge is growing,” he added.

Davis mentions that the findings are more or less similar to US and Europe.

“There are some small differences from country to country, but at a higher level, as information security environments become increasingly homogeneous, there is not much variance,” he told Computer Weekly.

“This is likely to be due to the fact that the legal and privacy environment in Germany may make companies more sensitive to protecting information,” he said.

The study also shows that security spending is increasing across the companies.

“We are playing catch-up in an environment where information security has never really made its case as being an interesting and exciting career, and where security professionals are retiring faster than they are being replaced,” said Davis.

Sony like attack possible

April 6th, 2015

According to the security researchers, many hackers across the globe can launch Sony like attack. Around 90% of the companies can suffer possibilities of hacking considering their current security standards.

There is no shortage of technically proficient people willing to launch such an attack, said Jon Miller, a former hacker who now serves as vice president of strategy at Cylance, an antivirus software maker.

“There are probably a couple thousand, three, four, five-thousand people that could do [the Sony] attack today,” Miller tells “60 Minutes”‘ Steve Croft in an interview airing Sunday evening on CBS television stations.

Complicating things for companies is the sheer number of computers that must be protected, usually from the employees operating them, said Kevin Mandia, chief operating officer of FireEye, the anti-malware company that worked with Sony to mitigate the effects of the hack.

“The advantage goes to the offense in cyber,” Mandia says. The defense must defend every computer, thousands in some cases, but “the offense side thinks, ‘I only need to break into one and I’m on the inside.’…Nation-state threat actors, or hackers, target human weakness, not system weakness.”

The Sony security breach was more serious that it was perceived. Hackers leaked the personal information which includes Social Security numbers of more than 47,000 celebrities, freelancers, and current and former Sony employees. They also leaked movies which were not released, as well as embarrassing emails between Sony Pictures executives, among other internal documents.

Alertsec strengthens security

Alertsec has created a web based encryption service that radically simplifies deployment and management of PC encryption by using industry leading Check Point Full Disk Encryption (former Pointsec) software.

Organizations, especially corporate giants, have to have an information security policy in place that proves they have taken necessary steps and measures to safeguard the information they gathered. If these policies are not adhered to, the regulators may prosecute.

Alertsec Xpress is used by organizations that have recognized the need to protect their information. Customers range from single-user sole traders and consultants to multinational companies with a large number of offices around the globe. Over 4 million users worldwide use Alertsec Xpress’s Check Point Full Disk Encryption.

Hackers potentially compromise data of 80 million individuals

February 2nd, 2015

Anthem, Inc.’s database was attacked by hackers potentially compromising the personal information of approximately 80 million former and current customers, as well as employees. The affected information includes  names, dates of birth, medical IDs or Social Security numbers, street addresses, and email addresses.

According to a statement from Anthem president and CEO Joseph Swedish posted on the company website:

“Based on what we know now, there is no evidence that credit card or medical information, such as claims, test results or diagnostic codes were targeted or compromised,” Swedish said. “Once the attack was discovered, Anthem immediately made every effort to close the security vulnerability, contacted the FBI and began fully cooperating with their investigation.”

Swedish added that the personal information of Anthem employees, including himself, were also compromised in this data breach using “very sophisticated external cyber attack”.

“We join you in your concern and frustration, and I assure you that we are working around the clock to do everything we can to further secure your data,” he said.

Anthem will notify the affected individuals.

“I want to personally apologize to each of you for what has happened, as I know you expect us to protect your information,” Swedish said. “We will continue to do everything in our power to make our systems and security processes better and more secure, and hope that we can earn back your trust and confidence in Anthem.”

The HITRUST Cyber Threat Intelligence and Incident Coordination Center (C3) has been collaborating with Anthem since it discovered the breach.

“As additional information becomes available, Anthem has committed to continue to work with the HITRUST C3 to disseminate any findings and lessons learned that can help other organizations better prepare and respond to these type of cyber incidents.”

Get your personal as well as office laptops encrypted by Alertsec

Unencrypted laptops present a major risk of data loss. 80% of information theft is due to lost or stolen laptops and other equipment. About 50% of network intrusions are performed with credentials gathered from lost or stolen devices. The penalties for a data breach are severe not only in terms of the monetary fines imposed on the organization, but also the potential loss of trust from customers and suppliers. Encryption software greatly enhances the security of your organization’s data as the information is not compromised if a laptop is lost or stolen.

Alertsec Xpress is the full disk encryption service that delivers a mobile data protection system for all information stored on laptops used throughout your organization.

 

Community Center ID Theft

November 12th, 2014

 

A nonprofit system of health clinics in Florida suffered data breach due to identity theft criminal operation. The affected clinic Jessie Trice Community Health Center said that patient’s information was targeted. According to the reports, personal information that was stolen includes Patients’ names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers.

 

“The leadership of Jessie Trice Community Health Center, Inc. deeply regrets this incident and is working vigorously and diligently assessing how to mitigate future risks to all patients and has implemented new procedures and protocols to protect patient information so that this type of theft cannot reoccur,” Jessie Trice president and CEO Annie Neasman explained in the statement.

 

The incident is under investigation by FBI and IRS. Total count of affected patients stands at 7,888 and are notified about the breach. The organization has retained a leading data breach response vendor to work with patients through the process.

 

For additional information about the JTCHC data breach, statement asks to contact their corporate office. According to the statement, no medical records were obtained or have been compromised. The mode and how the theft occurred are not clear. But the statement mentions that immediate action steps are underway to ensure clients protection.

 

Alertsec strengthens security

 

Alertsec has created a web based encryption service that radically simplifies deployment and management of PC encryption by using industry leading Check Point Full Disk Encryption (former Pointsec) software.

 

Organizations, especially corporate giants, have to have an information security policy in place that proves they have taken necessary steps and measures to safeguard the information they gathered. If these policies are not adhered to, the regulators may prosecute.

 

Alertsec Xpress is used by organizations that have recognized the need to protect their information. Customers range from single-user sole traders and consultants to multinational companies with a large number of offices around the globe. Over 4 million users worldwide use Alertsec Xpress’s Check Point Full Disk Encryption.

 

Major US banks suffered data breach due to Russian hackers

August 20th, 2014

JPMorgan Chase and other bank were breached by Russian hackers who stole gigabytes of sensitive data which includes savings and checking account information as well as information on bank employees.

Highlights of the incident:

The FBI is investigating whether the attacks may have been launched in retaliation for U.S. government sanctions

“Russia has a policy of reactionary attacks in relation to political contexts,” iSight Partners manager John Hultquist told Bloomberg. “When it comes to countries outside their sphere of influence, those attacks would be more surreptitious.”

At least five banks were hit

“Companies of our size unfortunately experience cyber attacks nearly every day,” JPMorgan spokesperson Patricia Wexler told the Times. “We have multiple layers of defense to counteract any threats and constantly monitor fraud levels.”

Breach was accomplished either via a zero day exploit or via the exploitation of an unsecured employee to access

“At the end of the day, serious attackers, not just cyber punks who try to steal credit card information, will go to great lengths and spend immense amounts of money in order to reach their target, employing not only lessons learned from online criminals over the last 20 years but also decades worth of espionage and social engineering tactics,” Kujawa head of malware intelligence at Malwarebytes Labs said. “The best defense against these attackers is to fortify cyber defenses on every front, the education and access control of any users and finally an awareness and preparedness for any and all attacks that might be encountered.”

Very few enterprises are sufficiently equipped to defend themselves

“In fact, I would say that more than 90 percent of all organizations are completely vulnerable; they simply do not have the tools or the staff to deal with this kind of attack,” Triumfant CEO John Prisco said.

War-game’ on an ongoing basis to make sure new vulnerabilities aren’t missed

“The next stage in the arms race, for both attackers and defenders, is automation — not just searching for gaps, but figuring out the consequences of those gaps, in much the same way that generals study a battlefield before the battle starts,” RedSeal Networks CTO Mike Lloyd said.

Get your personal as well as office laptops encrypted by Alertsec

Unencrypted laptops present a major risk of data loss. 80% of information theft is due to lost or stolen laptops and other equipment. About 50% of network intrusions are performed with credentials gathered from lost or stolen devices. The penalties for a data breach are severe not only in terms of the monetary fines imposed on the organization, but also the potential loss of trust from customers and suppliers. Encryption software greatly enhances the security of your organization’s data as the information is not compromised if a laptop is lost or stolen.

Alertsec Xpress is the full disk encryption service that delivers a mobile data protection system for all information stored on laptops used throughout your organization.

 

Data Theft by Former NATO employee

December 20th, 2013

A former NATO employee was sentenced for seven years in jail by the German court for spying after the IT expert and copying secret data in order to sell it to a foreign intelligence service.

Identified as Manfred K., the 61-year-old man had worked for the transatlantic military alliance at the US airbase of Ramstein in Germany but left his job after a dispute.

The court found “The disclosure of the files would allow a potential enemy of NATO to gain access to the secret network of NATO”.

Court rejected Manfred’s claim that he was trying to point out security gaps when he copied the data and hid it on USB memory sticks in his kitchen and basement.

The court in the western city of Koblenz found that the man copied passwords, server locations and other information for NATO computer systems that would have enabled a cyber attack.

The IT expert, who had worked for NATO for more than 30 years, copied the data in March 2012 and failed in an attempt to obtain more in June but left NATO shortly afterward. He was been in detention since his arrest in August 2012.

Andreas Voelpel, presiding judge said that the data were the “crown jewels” and “operative heart” of the system and would have allowed a foreign power to launch a cyber attack with devastating impact.

According to the Court, Chinese or Russian intelligence services were the suspected potential takers for the data.

The defendant had earlier denied the charge, saying “I was never a traitor. I am not and never was an enemy of NATO, only of the security sloppiness of employees.”

Alertsec strengthens security

Alertsec has created a web based encryption service that radically simplifies deployment and management of PC encryption by using industry leading Check Point Full Disk Encryption (former Pointsec) software.

Organizations, especially corporate giants, have to have an information security policy in place that proves they have taken necessary steps and measures to safeguard the information they gathered. If these policies are not adhered to, the regulators may prosecute.

Alertsec Xpress is used by organizations that have recognized the need to protect their information. Customers range from single-user sole traders and consultants to multinational companies with a large number of offices around the globe. Over 4 million users worldwide use Alertsec Xpress’s Check Point Full Disk Encryption.

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Most External Attacks From Foreign Lands

May 21st, 2013

One of the more interesting trends of data security has been the continued globalization of cybercriminal strategies targeting American firms.  The Verizon 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report showed that companies of all sizes should improve their security if they have yet to do so, and one critical area with which to start is the authentication process, as the report showed 67 percent of network intrusions resulted from weak or stolen credentials.

Knowing that these external threats are coming is key for businesses, as the report showed 92 percent of cyber attacks were by external parties while a mere 14 percent were from an insider. Companies could experience both, so it was noted that this number does not have to add up to 100 percent. Fifty-five percent of attacks were carried out by organized crime syndicates, where spam, identity theft, payment fraud and other strategies were employed.

“The two big reasons for the dominance of external actors are their numerical advantage and greater attack scalability,” the report stated. “An organization will always have more outsiders than insiders, and the Internet connects criminals to a virtually limitless host of potential victims.”

While most would think organized crime would factor in primarily with large companies, the Verizon report showed that 57 percent of attacks on small businesses fell into this category, distantly followed by 20 percent coming from state-sponsored hackers. For large companies, 49 percent of attacks came from organized crime with 24 percent government-affiliated. The primary incentive for these crime syndicates to attack is money, the report said, as there are now more economic and social activities online and a richer amount of data that can be stolen and converted into cash for these criminals.

Organized cybercrime targeting industries such as food, retail and finance tends to come from Eastern Europe and North America, according to Verizon analysts. Attacks can include malware used for spying, brute-force hacking and even physically tampering with databases, desktops and ATMs to get what they want. State-affiliated attacks are expanding as well, with the report saying these attackers are using espionage campaigns to target data to help military interests, find insider secrets and acquire source code. Only 2 percent of attacks come from hacktivists, even though many may think of this as a bigger issue now due to how much mainstream attention it receives.

Securing data for a better future
​Verizon executive vice president Randal S. Milch wrote in a guest post on The Hill that Congress must play a key role in helping to improve the nation’s cyber security posture. One suggestion he had was to start sharing threat information between federal agencies and communications companies which can help find threats earlier and prevent them before they really hurt companies or government bodies, which is essentially the basis of the CISPA bill.

“As we continue to work to find the best solutions to ensure the best cyber security in the middle of this fast‐moving technological war, we must avoid regulatory mandates that will quickly become obsolete and potentially hinder the ability of high tech companies and broadband providers to innovate and coordinate to defeat ever-evolving cyber threats,” he wrote. “These companies must maintain the flexibility to deploy new technologies in real-time to secure networks and to protect customers.”

Milch believes that having a strong partnership between the public and private sectors will bring forth a more secure era of online communication and data sharing, thereby helping the company grow economically. This brand of data security will take teamwork, he said, but he believes that as more realize how important securing the cyber world is, the easier it will get to come together and do as such.

Get your personal as well as office laptops encrypted by Alertsec

Unencrypted laptops present a major risk of data loss. 80% of information theft is due to lost or stolen laptops and other equipment. About 50% of network intrusions are performed with credentials gathered from lost or stolen devices. The penalties for a data breach are severe not only in terms of the monetary fines imposed on the organization, but also the potential loss of trust from customers and suppliers. Encryption software greatly enhances the security of your organization’s data as the information is not compromised if a laptop is lost or stolen.

Alertsec Xpress is the full disk encryption service that delivers a mobile data protection system for all information stored on laptops used throughout your organization.

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