Friday, June 11, 2010

3 Latvian Men to be Deported for Extortion Plot

An AP newswire article, via ABC Montana, reports:

Three Latvian men who pleaded guilty to receiving the proceeds of an extortion plot against a Great Falls investment firm will be deported.

U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell sentenced the men Thursday in Helena for their role in an attempt to extort $80,000 from Davidson Companies after the company's computer system was hacked into in late 2007 and early 2008.

Court records say a man demanded $80,000 in exchange for revealing security vulnerabilities and destroying any confidential information he obtained.

The Latvian men were charged with picking up wire transfers in the Netherlands and turning the money over to other people who purportedly were taking it to the suspected hacker, Robert Borko. The Latvian men have been in custody since February 2008. Borko remains at large.


Could Cyber Skirmish Lead U.S. to War?

Bob Sullivan writes on MSNBC's "Red Tape Chronicles" Blog:

Imagine this scenario: Estonia, a NATO member, is cut off from the Internet by cyber attackers who besiege the country's bandwidth with a devastating denial of service attack. Then, the nation's power grid is attacked, threatening economic disruption and even causing loss of life as emergency services are overwhelmed. As international outcry swells, outside researchers determine the attack is being sponsored by a foreign government and being directed from a military base. Desperate and outgunned in tech resources, Estonia invokes Article 5 of the NATO Treaty -- an attack against one member nation is an attack against all. It requests an immediate response from its military allies: Bomb the attacker's command-and-control headquarters to stop the punishing cyber attack.

Now, the U.S. government is faced with a chilling question: Should it get dragged into a shooting war by a cyber attack on an ally? Or should it decline and threaten the fiber of the NATO alliance?

About half this fictional scenario occurred in 2007, when Estonian government and financial Web sites were crippled by a cyber attack during a dispute with Russia. That incident never escalated to this hypothetic level, however: The source of the attack was unclear, physical harm did not occur and Estonia never invoked Article 5.

The incident did, however, get other NATO members thinking: When would they be required to rise to the defense of an ally during a cyber attack?

More here.

Australian Gov't Wants ISPs to Record Browsing History

Ben Grubb writes on ZDNet Australia:

Companies who provide customers with a connection to the internet may soon have to retain subscriber's private web browsing history for law enforcement to examine when requested, a move which has been widely criticised by industry insiders.

The Attorney-General's Department yesterday confirmed to ZDNet Australia that it had been in discussions with industry on implementing a data retention regime in Australia. Such a regime would require companies providing internet access to log and retain customer's private web browsing history for a certain period of time for law enforcement to access when needed.

Currently, companies that provide customers with a connection to the internet don't retain or log subscriber's private web browsing history unless they are given an interception warrant by law enforcement, usually approved by a judge. It is only then that companies can legally begin tapping a customer's internet connection.

More here.

Retrospect 1979: John Wayne Dies

On this day in 1979, we lost a great American screen star.

John Wayne, we miss you.

- ferg

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bill: President Could Order Companies to Deploy Security Fixes

Jill R. Aitoro writes on

A much anticipated cybersecurity bill introduced on Thursday would give the president sweeping authority to order companies to take specific security precautions to protect private networks from possible cyberattacks, including, for example, applying a software patch or blocking incoming traffic from a particular nation.

The 2010 Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act would not authorize a government takeover of corporate networks as previously reported, but would allow the president to declare a national cyber emergency and issue emergency measures when the government believes there's a credible threat to the computer systems that support the nation's critical infrastructure such as banks, transportation systems, telecommunications and utilities.

"If the president feels some part of the critical infrastructure is under attack or about to be under attack, either separately or as part of a conflict [the United States is] involved in, this gives the president the authority to take action," said Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., during a press conference. Lieberman sponsored the bill with Sens. Thomas Carper, D-Del., and Susan Collins, R-Maine.

Owners of critical networks will be able to propose alternative security measures that address the national cyber emergency if the White House approves. They will receive liability protections to ensure they are not held responsible for any fallout that results from complying with security measures.

Networks supporting critical infrastructure also would have to meet established security standards, according to the bill.

More here.

Judge Limits DHS Laptop Border Searches

Declan McCullagh writes on C|Net News:

A federal judge has ruled that border agents cannot seize a traveler's laptop, keep in locked up for months, and examine it for contraband files without a warrant half a year later.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in the Northern District of California rejected the Obama administration's argument that no warrant was necessary to look through the electronic files of an American citizen who was returning home from a trip to South Korea.

"The court concludes that June search required a warrant," White ruled on June 2, referring to a search of Andrew Hanson's computer that took place a year ago. Hanson arrived San Francisco International Airport in January 2009.

The Justice Department invoked a novel argument--which White dubbed "unpersuasive"--claiming that while Hanson was able to enter the country, his laptop remained in a kind of legal limbo where the Bill of Rights did not apply. (The Fourth Amendment generally requires a warrant for searches.)

More here.

Australia: Rudd Dumps AusCERT

Karen Dearne writes on Australian IT:

The nation's Computer Emergency Response Team, better known as AusCERT, has been dumped by the Rudd Government.

AusCERT will be replaced by the federal government’s newly established CERT Australia, which will take over the critical role of frontline protection against cyber-threats.

Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland said CERT Australia "will now be the sole supplier of national CERT services to the community and the point of contact for international CERTs".

Last month, The Australian revealed AusCERT was yet to reach agreement on contracted services with the government after negotiations lasting almost a year.

AusCERT, based in the University of Queensland, is largely funded by its private sector members and received federal funding of around $250,000 per annum for government agencies subscriptions.

Jeremy Crowley, director of AusCERT and IT Services at UQ, said they were disappointed with the decision.

More here.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Mark Fiore: Trust Me

More Mark Fiore brilliance.

Via The San Francisco Chronicle.

- ferg

Cyber War: Microsoft a Weak Link in National Security

Matthew Lasar writes on ARS Technica:

"Microsoft has vast resources, literally billions of dollars in cash, or liquid assets reserves. Microsoft is an incredibly successful empire built on the premise of market dominance with low-quality goods."

Who wrote those lines? Steve Jobs? Linux inventor Linus Torvalds? Ralph Nader? No, the author is former White House adviser Richard A. Clarke in his new book, Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It.

It has been a few months since Clarke's latest opus appeared, but it's still making quite a splash. Clarke, after all, was the guy who repeatedly warned the White House about Al Qaeda before September 11, 2001. As a result, he has quickly become the most publicly identifiable person on the subject.

"While it may appear to give America some sort of advantage," Cyber War warns, "in fact cyber war places this country at greater jeopardy than it does any other nation." The enormous dependence of our financial and energy networks on the 'Net open us up to potentially devastating online attacks. "It is the public, the civilian population of the United States and the publicly owned corporations that run our key national systems, that are likely to suffer in a cyber war."

More here.

White House Commission Debates Certification Requirements For Cybersecurity Pros

Kelly Jackson Higgins writes on Dark Reading:

A commission set up to advise the Obama administration on cybersecurity policy is considering recommending certification and training for federal IT security employees and contractors.

The Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency, which in December 2008 issued its Securing Cyberspace for the 44th Presidency report to Congress, is currently working on a sequel to that report, due sometime in late June or early July. The commission, made up of a who's who of experts and policy-makers, is debating strategies for building and developing a skilled cybersecurity workforce for the U.S., as well as issues surrounding an international cybersecurity strategy and online authentication.

But the prospect of mandated certification qualifications for IT security professionals has spurred debate among the commissioners as well as within the security community.

More here.

AT&T's iPad Hackers 'Ignored' By Reuters, Other Mainstream Press

Taylor Buley writes on

Gawker contributor Ryan Tate set the Web ablaze on Wednesday with a blog post detailing the alleged breach of 114,000 iPad users' email addresses. The post named names: among them, executives at News Corp, The New York Times Company and Dow Jones.

According to "Weev," a well known Internet "activist" who we likened to Shakespeare's Puck after a baffling security incident last year, the "Goatse" security group alerted various members of the mainstream press via email before granting Gawker's Tate an exclusive on the data.

"i disclosed this to other press organizations first (ones who had ipad users affected by the breach, lol) and was ignored," writes Weev in an email. "gawker found out and ran with it immediately."

To prove it, Weev sent Forbes copies of emails sent to press at Reuters, News Corp, The Washington Post and The San Francisco Chronicle. The veracity of the emails has not been confirmed, but each has a timestamp dating back to Sunday night.

More here.

Australian ISPs Adopt Industry Security Standard

Brian Prince writes on eWeek:

An Australian collective of technology firms has developed an industry code in cooperation with the country’s government to help Internet Service Providers improve cyber-security.

The Internet Industry Association’s (IIA) newly developed "icode" [.pdf] provides a voluntary industry framework for how ISPs can respond to security issues affecting customers and how ISPs can go about dealing with the government in the event of a cyber-emergency.

In the event a computer has been infected and is being used as a zombie, ISPs can temporarily quarantine the customer’s service, holding them within a “walled garden with links to relevant resources that will assist them until they are able to restore the security of their machine,” the document reads. In the case of a computer being used as a spam source, restrictions can be applied to outbound e-mail.

If an ISP suspects criminal attacks against their infrastructure or customers, the ISP should report the incident to the relevant state or territory police, according to the document. However, if an ISP suspects an attack against national critical infrastructure, the ISP should report the matter to the Australian Federal Police.

More here.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

June 6, 1944: Operation Overlord - D-Day in Normandy

A United States Navy LCVP disembarks troops at Omaha Beach, Normandy, France on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Via Wikipedia.

The Battle of Normandy was fought in 1944 between the German forces occupying Western Europe and the invading Allied forces as part of the larger conflict of World War II. Over sixty years later, the Normandy invasion, codenamed Operation Overlord, still remains the largest seaborne invasion in history, involving almost three million troops crossing the English Channel from England to Normandy in then German-occupied France.

The majority of the Allied forces were composed of American, British, Canadian, and French units. Other countries including Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and Poland also took a major part.

The Normandy invasion began with overnight airborne paratrooper and glider landings, massive air attacks and naval bombardments, and an early morning amphibious assault on June 6, "D-Day". The battle for Normandy continued for more than two months, with campaigns to establish, expand, and eventually break out of the Allied beachheads. It concluded with the liberation of Paris and the fall of the Falaise Pocket.

You Are Not Forgotten.

More here.

Image source: Wikimedia