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Hacking For Cause: Today’s Growing Cyber Security Trend | TechCrunch

What do the following data-breach headlines from the past year have in common? The Sony Pictures hack: Everything we know so far; Anonymous hackers release emails ordering bear cubs be killed; Hackers threaten to release names from adultery website; How Latest Snowden Leak Is Headache for White House; How DID hackers steal celebrities’ private iCloud photos? Connecting the dots yet? If not, here are a two more headlines to tip you off: Hackers Remotely Kill a Jeep on the Highway – With Me in It and Hacktivists taking aim at Dallas-Fort Worth police departments. I’ll stop there. But I could go on… Many Answers, But One Scary Trend No doubt, there are several similarities to these data-breach headlines. The sophistication of these cyber attackers and the lack of an adequate cyberdefense are common themes in these stories. But there is one overriding theme. I call this new trend: “Hacking for a cause.” The reason? The hacker motive for these data breaches is not (primarily) financial gain. No doubt, someone, somewhere, may have made money in the process — especially if a hired hacker was doing the hacking actions for someone else. Why is the motive of the hacker a significant issue? The past decade of data breaches has been dominated by the conventional wisdom and this public perception: “Follow the money.” Specifically, organized bad-guy hacker criminals are looking to rob banks, steal intellectual property, get your social security number, steal credit card numbers or gain your logon credentials to ultimately get to your cash — or better yet, your organization’s cash. Of course, there also is a second, less talked about hacking theme around protecting critical infrastructure from bad guys to... read more

5 considerations for smarter cyber defense — GCN

5 considerations for smarter cyber defense Today’s cyber threat landscape has transformed information security from an afterthought to perhaps one of the most complex and urgent concerns that organizations face. Traditional perimeter defenses far less effective than they were 10 years ago. As a result, organizations are beginning to dramatically rethink their approach to cybersecurity, embracing the reality that breaches are inevitable and developing more robust defenses. When evaluating and updating cybersecurity defenses for better protection in the contemporary threat landscape, organizations should: 1. Consider a holistic approach to security. A holistic point of view aims to understand the evolving threats within the information ecosystem by creating a security architecture that protects information, advances operational processes and manages security operations. Holistic security solutions are always engaged to detect potential threats and vulnerabilities, deploying the appropriate security controls to mitigate potential threats throughout the ecosystem. Design processes must incorporate security from the start and consider it at the device, platform, application and system level. Organizations must put internal governance in place to foster an effective security culture. A great tool for developing a holistic approach is the NIST Cyber Security Framework, which helps  organizations define a set of cybersecurity goals and security outcomes to best deter and prevent network perimeter compromises. 2. Consider cyber security as a continuous and integrated process. The focus on security cannot begin or end when security tools are deployed and implemented. Cybersecurity is a continuous process that influences every sector of the information ecosystem, and it must evolve and support continuous detection and identification of new threats. Risk assessment and vulnerability analysis, secure coding review and design... read more

The Cybersecurity Challenges Facing State and Local Governments – Infosecurity Magazine

IT departments are focused like never before on keeping their networks and data secure, but they face several critical challenges, says Paul Lipman Organized criminals, hacktivists, and state-sponsored agents are launching constant, high-profile attacks against commercial organizations, government entities and even critical public infrastructure. This has raised awareness of cybersecurity and created a heightened sense of urgency, as organizations seek to protect their valuable data from theft and distribution on the black market. Intellectual property, trade secrets, and contract negotiations are lucrative targets for cyber-criminals, with the potential to bring organizations or even industries to their knees. Personal data stolen from companies can be leveraged in devastating identity theft attacks against innocent citizens. IT departments are therefore focused like never before on keeping their networks and data secure, but they face several critical challenges: Threats on the Rise iSheriff is seeing rapid growth in the number of threats. We have seen more than a quarter of a million ransomware variants over the past year, with as many as 60,000 new variants in a single day. Ransomware acts like a trawling net – casting broadly to snare as large a number of victims as possible in one attempt. These threats have become increasingly complex, conducted over multiple threat vectors in combination. At the other end of the spectrum are targeted threats, designed to attack a specific organization or even a specific individual. Unlike a typical malware-based infection, targeted attacks are very difficult to block with traditional security products. Insufficient Funds The typical state or local government agency spends less than 5% of its IT budget on cybersecurity, compared to over... read more

Why the next World War will be a cyberwar first, and a shooting war second

Everything we do revolves around the Internet. Older technologies are finding themselves eclipsed by their Internet-based substitute solutions. Even technologies historically unrelated to networking (like medical instruments) are finding themselves part of the Internet, whether as a way to simply update firmware, or using the network to keep track of telemetry and develop advanced analytics.  Whether we’re talking about social networking, financial systems, communications systems, journalism, data storage, industrial control, or even government security — it is all part of the Internet. That makes the world a very, very dangerous place. Historically, wars are fought over territory or ideology, treasure or tradition, access or anger. When a war begins, the initial aggressor wants something, whether to own a critical path to the sea or strategic oil fields, or “merely” to cause damage and build support among certain constituencies. At first, the defender defends, protecting whatever has been attacked. Over time, however, the defender also seeks strategic benefit, to not only cause damage in return, but to gain footholds that will lead to an end to hostilities, a point of leverage for negotiation, or outright conquest. Shooting wars are very expensive and very risky. Tremendous amounts of material must be produced and transported, soldiers and sailors must be put into harm’s way, and incredible logistics and supply chain operations must be set up and managed on a nationwide (or multi-national level). Cyberwar is cheap. The weapons are often co-opted computers run by the victims being targeted. Startup costs are minimal. Individual personnel risk is minimal. It’s even possible to conduct a cyberwar without the victims knowing (or at least being... read more

Cybersecurity on the agenda for 80 percent of corporate boards | CSO Online

Cybersecurity is a topic of discussion at most board meetings, according to a new survey of 200 corporate directors. The survey, conducted jointly by NYSE Governance Services and security vendor Veracode, revealed that more than 80 percent of board members say that cybersecurity is discussed at most or all board meetings. Specifically, 35 percent said that cybersecurity was discussed at every board meeting and 46 percent said it was discussed at most meetings. Only 10 percent said they discussed cybersecurity after an incident in their industry or at their company — and only 1 percent said they never discussed cybersecurity at all. “It’s become a really serious issue,” said Chris Wysopal, CTO and co-founder at Veracode, a security vendor. “It’s not just an IT issue, or a policy issue, or a compliance issue. It’s becoming a corporate risk issue.” According to the survey, the board members held the CEO primarily responsible for cybersecurity, with the CIO as the second-most responsible executive. One example of this is last year’s resignation of Target’s CEO and CIO after that company’s highly-publicized data breach. This bodes well for corporate security, he said. “That means you’re going to see the security get a larger budget,” he said. “But also, more importantly, be an issue that the whole company is going to be charged with solving, not just the IT department or CISO.” However, 66 percent of board members are not confident of their companies’ ability to defend themselves against cyberattacks. Only 4 percent said they were “very” confident. And, despite this lack of confidence, security ranked second to last in priority when it comes... read more

Mary Meeker just sounded a huge wake-up call about computer security

Mary Meeker believes that computer security threats are increasing, and that companies need to focus and deal with breaches more intelligently. Today, the long time Internet analyst, now with VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, delivered her annual Internet Trends report. This 197-slide presentation showcased what important thematic strands look out for in the vast world of the internet. This year, she gave two slides to the issue of cyber threats. That may not seem like much, but it’s twice as much as last year: In her 2014 presentation, she offered one slide that looked at the growing number of network compromises and threat groups. She highlighted the increased part mobile devices play in security breaches, and noted that adware has increased, meaning that people’s personal data is becoming much more ubiquitous and easier for hackers to seize. She also pointed out who’s responsible — “>20% of breaches come directly form insiders with malicious intent” — and highlighted the need for better security professionals. In fact, almost 70% of breaches aren’t detected by the companies who suffered them, but by outsiders. Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/mary-meeker-highlights-cybersecurity-2015-5#ixzz3boqgAcZE Source: Mary Meeker just sounded a huge wake-up call about computer... read more

What does Russia and China’s cybersecurity pact mean for the US?

Leaders in China and Russia signed 32 bilateral agreements, including a “nonaggression pact” between the countries in cyberspace earlier this week, which comes at a time of severely strained relations between Russia and the West. Orville Schelle, the director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society joins Hari Sreenivasan from Berkeley, California, to discuss the implications. Source: What does Russia and China’s cybersecurity pact mean for the... read more

Web app attacks, PoS intrusions and cyberespionage top causes of data breaches | Computerworld

Web application attacks, point-of-sale intrusions, cyberespionage and crimeware were the leading causes of confirmed data breaches last year. The findings are based on data collected by Verizon Enterprise Solutions and 70 other organizations from almost 80,000 security incidents and more than 2,000 confirmed data breaches in 61 countries. According to Verizon’s 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report, which analyzes security incidents that happened last year, the top five affected industries by number of confirmed data breaches were: public administration, financial services, manufacturing, accommodations and retail. People were again the weak link that led to many of the compromises. The data shows that phishing — whether used to trick users into opening infected email attachments, click on malicious links, or input their credentials on rogue websites — remains the weapon of choice for many criminals and spies. For the past two years, more than two-thirds of cyberespionage incidents involved phishing, the Verizon team said in its report. Hundreds of incidents from the crimeware section have also included the technique in their event chain, they said. The data showed that 23 percent of phishing email recipients open the messages and 11 percent of them click on the attachment inside. A small phishing campaign of only 10 emails comes with a more than 90 percent chance that at least one person will become a victim, the Verizon team said. The time window for organizations to react to such attacks is very small, with the median time from when an email is sent to when the first user clicks on the link inside being just one minute and 22 seconds. Sanctioned tests have showed... read more

Internet of Evil Things Lurks in Corporate Networks – Infosecurity Magazine

There are more than 16 billion connected computing devices now deployed, according to ABI Research, which have significantly expanded the productivity options in our interconnected world. But that proliferation has also vastly expanded the attack surface and the headaches for IT administrators. In fact, 83% of respondents in a recent survey from Pwnie Labs said that they’re concerned that rogue or unauthorized devices could be operating, undetected, in their network environments already. The problem of unauthorized, bring your own device (BYOD) endpoints simply escalates when it comes to Internet of Things (IoT) devices—especially given the rapidly expanding market of low-cost, plug-and-play, cyber-espionage devices. Pwnie Labs, the research and development division at Pwnie Express, noted that this latter group of devices represent an emerging threat vector and nefarious counterpart to IoT, which it has dubbed the Internet of Evil Things (IoET). The IoET has opportunity to infiltrate corporate environments fairly easily: In the survey, 69% of security professionals concerningly said that they do not have full visibility of all the wireless devices within their network environment. Rogue access points, Mi-Fi and mobile hotspots were identified as the most concerning, high-risk devices today. In an effort to define an industry framework for a comprehensive, industry-wide IoET defense, the firm assessed and analyzed a sample of more than 250,000 wireless devices detected by Pwn Pulse, Pwnie’s rogue device detection system, across a variety of customer environments and industry verticals. The analysis resulted in an industry-wide categorization of the most prevalent hardware device threats affecting today’s global IT infrastructure into three key areas: Unauthorized & Unchecked: This area includes rogue hardware, such as... read more

Facing new Cold War online, America needs cybersecurity overhaul

SAN FRANCISCO — The rising number of successful attacks on the computer systems of U.S. companies is strong evidence America’s approach to cyber-security is in need of a significant overhaul. Neither the broad defenses developed by federal agencies nor the commercial software sold by the private sector have been enough to protect U.S. businesses and individuals from devastating system breaches. The number of successful, major hacks went up by nearly a quarter last year, according to a new report from the security software company Symantec. The worst attacks are now coming from criminal organizations, foreign-nation states and terrorist groups with ample resources — not from individuals. Hackers working for criminals and government agencies have routinely attacked large U.S. firms, causing untold economic losses. Given that a large number of these attacks are coming from strategic U.S. rivals such as China and Russia, as well as militant Islamists with anti-American ideologies, the situation has gone beyond mere espionage. It’s gotten so bad that it’s not a question of if U.S. companies that use the Internet will be attacked, but when, as the FBI’s former chief technology officer said in December. This country is now in the middle of the 21st-Century equivalent of the Cold War, one being fought online. As in all wars, to the victors will go the spoils. In the case of cyber-war, those spoils will be the digital market opportunities of the future — and they will be huge and lucrative. All sectors of the media, technology, entertainment, utility, communications and transportation industries face new opportunities and companies within them move their data onto the global Internet.... read more