Cyber Connections News Roundup: November 19

Get the latest cybersecurity news from leading companies, news outlets and blogs.

Cyber Connections News Roundup is a bi-weekly brief of online links to news stories and commentary of interest to the cybersecurity community, delivered on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. Articles are selected for their newsworthiness, timeliness, potential impact, and reach.

November 19, 2019

Retail Industry Is Under Cyber Attack According to New Report

The retail industry is experiencing more breaches than any other industry in 2019, according to a new report by threat intelligence company IntSights, titled Cyber(attack) Monday: Hackers Target the Retail Industry as E-Commerce Thrives. High employee turnover, online and in-store locations, and increasing regulations guiding the sector toward protecting consumers are contributing factors for a high –pressure state, according to the report. Some of the top challenges to the retail industry in 2019 include: emerging dark web underground communities targeting retailers; and point-of-sale (POS) malware, web apps, and ransom ware. Read more.

FDA Works with Patients and Experts to Strengthen Device Cybersecurity

In a recent article on www.fda.gov, Amy Abernethy, principal deputy commissioner and acting chief information officer and Suzanne B. Schwartz, deputy director, Office of Strategic Partnerships and Technology Innovation, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, discuss how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working to address the cybersecurity risks associated with medical devices that are increasingly more advanced and interconnected. Over the past six years, the FDA has strengthened its relationships with cybersecurity experts, manufacturers and other federal government agencies to ensure security. More recently, the FDA has been engaging with patients and patient advocacy groups in order to balance patient needs with cybersecurity concerns. Read more.

DHS Offers Cybersecurity Recommendations for Small Healthcare Providers

The Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) has released best-practice cybersecurity recommendations to help small healthcare provider organizations bolster their security programs, according to a recent article on www.healthitsecurity.com. The guidelines are aimed at helping small- and medium-sized provider organizations with basic security mechanisms, given their limited resources. CISA developed the recommendations in partnership with small businesses and smaller government agencies. Read more.

AT&T Poll on 5G Cybersecurity Challenges Points to Shared Security Model

Software-defined networking, authentication and a shared security model were the key takeaways from a new report from AT&T Cybersecurity on 5G. The ninth annual Cybersecurity Insights Report was based on interviews with 704 cybersecurity professionals across various markets (from North America, India, Australia, and the United Kingdom), all from companies with over 500 employees and all interviewed in August and September 2019. According to the survey, 72.5% of the respondents said their level of concern about 5G security was high or medium-high. According to an article on www.multichannel.com, a big reason for a shared security model for 5G is the number of IoT devices–billions–that will be connected. Read more.

TikTok Under Increasing Cybersecurity Scrutiny

TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media platform, has experienced a meteoric rise in popularity over the past two years, but now competitors and lawmakers are calling the app a potential threat to national security. According to a recent report on www.businessinsider.com, Kiersten Todt, a former cybersecurity advisor to President Obama, said she believes those concerns are warranted. Todt attributes the risk to the near-unilateral control the Chinese government holds over local companies and its demonstrated interest in collecting peoples’ data. Read more.

 

Cyber Connections News Roundup: November 5

Get the latest cybersecurity news from leading companies, news outlets and blogs.

Cyber Connections News Roundup is a bi-weekly brief of online links to news stories and commentary of interest to the cybersecurity community, delivered on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. Articles are selected for their newsworthiness, timeliness, potential impact, and reach.

November 5, 2019

Chinese APT Group Hacked State Institutions in Six Countries

A Chinese-speaking advanced persistent threat (APT) group, Calypso, has actively been targeting state institutions in six countries, hacking network perimeters and injecting a program to gain access to internal networks, according to a report from researchers at Positive Technologies Expert Security Center. According to an article on www.scmagazine.com, in one attack, the malfeasants, who are believed to have originated in Asia, used PlugX malware, a signature of APT groups from China and some of the attackers inadvertently revealed their IP addresses from Chinese providers. Institutions in India were hit the hardest, followed by Brazil and Kazakhstan, Russia and Thailand and Turkey. Read more.

Military Cybersecurity Market Expected to Grow to $16 Billion by 2023

According to a new Frost & Sullivan study titled “Global Military Cybersecurity Market, Forecast to 2023,” that market is projected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.6% to reach $16.01 billion by 2023. This growth, according to the report, will be the result of global defense industry investment in disruptive technologies and platforms that are driving changes in military cybersecurity requirements. “Militaries across the globe are budgeting for and pursuing the development of new enabling, next-generation technologies for cybersecurity,” said Ryan Pinto, Research Analyst, Frost & Sullivan. Read more.

R Street Offers Free Resource for Measuring Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity experts often complain about the lack of a well-defined system for measuring cybersecurity in an objective, quantifiable, and comparative manner. R Street, a non-profit, nonpartisan, public policy research organization, has published a compendium (a downloadable PDF) of sources to fill this gap. R Street’s Institute National Security and Cybersecurity Program has developed a partial bibliography that compiles a baseline of existing disparate measurement efforts. The goal of the document is to provide a systematic overview of the field that is both technically literate and of use to decision-makers in the public and private sectors. Read more.

Will the EU Seize the Global Lead On Cybersecurity?

The European Union (EU) has undertaken cybersecurity activities over the past six years that make the case that it is about to usurp the U.S.’s presumed role as the global leader on cybersecurity, according to a recent article on www.forbes.com. Notably, it has already established cybersecurity requirements for Operators of Essential Services (OES – essentially critical infrastructure companies) and digital service providers (DSPs), and it has launched a certification framework for digital products, services, and processes. Read more.

The Construction Industry Must Pay Attention to Cybersecurity Risks

A recent article on www.bizjournals.com points out that while technology, energy, and healthcare industries seem to regularly make headlines relating to massive, nationwide cyber breaches, construction companies are exposed to the same risks. Temporary workspaces where employees and contractors commonly use project management software to track job status and collaborate with external vendors maybe at risk. In these workspaces, highly confidential plans, blueprints, bids, financial information, and even personally identifiable information (PII) – like full names and social security numbers – are vulnerable. Read more.

 

 

 

Cyber Connections News Roundup: October 22

Get the latest cybersecurity news from leading companies, news outlets and blogs.

Cyber Connections News Roundup is a bi-weekly brief of online links to news stories and commentary of interest to the cybersecurity community, delivered on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. Articles are selected for their newsworthiness, timeliness, potential impact, and reach.

October 22, 2019

It’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month: UMGC Students, Alumni and Faculty Experts Share Their Tips for Staying Safe

Check out our University of Maryland Global Campus three-part video series offering tips and insights to help you understand and secure your digital profile at home and at work. Read more.

Making the Case for a Risk-Based Approach to Cybersecurity in the Financial Services Industry

We have no definable network perimeter to protect, according to a recent article on www.securityboulevard.com. With thousands of mobile devices connecting to networks through cloud-based applications that access critical and sensitive data from a variety of hybrid cloud environments, the article supports the argument that it’s time to adopt a truly risk-based approach to cybersecurity to enable us to focus on protecting data itself, rather than on endpoints, networks, and identity. Read more.

Supply Chain Hacks Are On the Rise for Phishing Scams

According to Verizon’s latest Data Breach Investigations Report, email is the channel used in 94% of attacks where hackers target executives for phishing schemes. A recent article on https://netlibsecurity.com describes how hackers are now employing creative approaches to what are known as “supply chain” attacks, which use an organization’s associates, like outsourcing companies, to spread their attacks across that entity’s network of partners and vendors. Read more.

Is Insurance a Viable Solution to Growing Cybersecurity Challenges?

A recent article on www.insurancejournal.com makes the case. Given the increasing frequency of cyber breaches, along with the presence of more varied and evolving threats, how do we address the perpetual uncertainty about whether the cybersecurity industry can protect us? The article argues that since cybersecurity providers can’t guarantee the effectiveness of a cyber solution, and since it is difficult to accurately quantify the cost/benefit of a cyber strategy, then cybersecurity insurance may provide the path toward a way to reduce risk and incentivize clients to take preventative measures. Read more.

Open Cybersecurity Alliance Aims to Unite a Fragmented Landscape with Common, Open Source Code and Practices

On October 8, 2019, the OASIS international consortium announced the Open Cybersecurity Alliance (OCA), an industry initiative to bring interoperability and data sharing across cybersecurity products. IBM and McAfee have contributed the initial open source content and code. Formed under the auspices of OASIS, OCA brings together organizations and individuals from around the world to develop open source security technologies, which can freely exchange information, insights, analytics, and orchestrated responses. Read more.

Cybersecurity Challenges Lie Ahead for Next Generation 9-1-1 in Maryland

By Balakrishnan Dasarathy

The state of Maryland, along with many other states, is in the process of evolving its current largely telephony based 9-1-1 emergency handling systems to the Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) systems, as described in the final report by the Commission to Advance NextGen 9-1-1 Across Maryland. Although the benefits to a digital emergency handling system are vast, the migration to a more open IP-based system also raises a number of security threats that must be addressed to ensure success.

Current 9-1-1 services typically operate over standard telephone networks and, as such, mainly support requests through a voice call. The NG9-1-1 systems will all operate on a nation-wide digital network using the Internet Protocol (IP) technology, enabling interconnection with a wide range of public and private networks supporting emergency assistance from regular phone networks, wireless networks and the Internet.

One of the main benefits of the migration to NG9-1-1 systems is that they will allow Public Safety Answering Point (PSAPs) staff to accept and process a range of information from the public and responders, including text, images, video and voice. Moreover, non-humans such as collision detection systems in automobiles and home health monitoring IoT devices will be able to initiate requests not in the too distant future.

Overall, NG9-1-1 will be able to enable more situational awareness for dispatchers and responders. Because of the connectedness of the Internet, PSAPs can be consolidated and backups for a PSAP can be dynamically called upon nationally (not just regionally) to handle large-scale emergency situations, as encountered during the attacks of September 11, 2001. PSAP IT resources such as logging and recording and location look up services can be shared. In short, emergency handling will be far more resilient and economical with NG9-1-1 than they are today.

Although cyber attacks such as Telephony Denial of Service (TDoS) and Radio Frequency (RF) jamming attacks have compromised current 9-1-1 systems, the migration to NG9-1-1 systems invites a host of additional threats. As NG9-1-1 networks and systems are more open and connected than today’s closed telephony-based 9-1-1 systems, their attack surfaces are much larger.

NG9-1-1 systems can be subject to several types cybersecurity attacks that would hamper their availability, and affect confidentiality and integrity of data critical to the handling of emergencies. These new threats include:

  • Telephone Denial of Service Attacks (TDOS): Calls jam a PSAP administrator line or 9-1-1 lines. This type of attack already happened in October 2016 via compromised cell phones.
  • Ransomware. Use of malware to prevent access to computer systems for the purpose of extorting a ransom. The City of Baltimore emergency 9-1-1 system dispatch and recording servers were subject to this attack in March 2018.
  • Malware attacks. More generally, a malware in the form of a worm spreading from systems in one PSAP to its neighboring ones compromising the ability to respond in a state or a region of the country.
  • Swatting. Swatting is essentially tricking an emergency dispatcher with false or misleading information; for example, through the manipulation of fields such as Caller ID and location information in IP packets in an emergency request to indicate the call is originating from a location at which a serious emergency is taking place, thus directing scarce law enforcement (and medical responders) to that location. This could be just a revenge, or the manipulator could be committing a serious crime somewhere else. This happened in 2017 in California and resulted in an innocent person shot by the police.

With well-known technical and policy controls in place in the IT and network infrastructure and in various emergency handling applications, as well as the support of a well-trained staff, these types attacks can be largely prevented and the damage contained.

The Department of Homeland Security (through its Office on Emergency Communications), the Federal Communications Commission (through its task force on Optimal PSAP Architecture), the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), and the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) are all involved in the rollout of NG9-1-1 and have produced guidelines to address cybersecurity issues among other directives (e.g., specification of functional components and their interfaces for procurement purposes, IP network based architecture, deployment alternatives, budget and cost sharing among various government entities).

A simplified IP network-based “three-tier” architecture is shown below. The key aspect of the architecture is the Emergency Services IP Networks (ESInets), to carry all types of traffic with intelligence to route to appropriate PSAPs and support functions such as location information and subscriber information services.

911

Source: Office of Emergency Communication: Cyber Risks to Next Generation 9-1-1, Nov. 2018

What’s Happening in Maryland?

In Maryland, a statewide task force known as the ENSB (Emergency Number System) Cybersecurity was formed during the summer of 2019 to address the cybersecurity issues related to NG9-1-1. The task force consists of public safety managers and IT professionals from various counties and vendors in the space. Emergency handling in Maryland is largely provided at the county level. I am representing University of Maryland Global Campus to provide cybersecurity expertise. The current focus areas of this committee are to:

  • Develop minimum standards and requirements to address cybersecurity concerns for products serving PSAPs and ESINet components, and
  • Cybersecurity best practices for PSAPs and IT organizations supporting the underlying infrastructure and applications

Standards and recommendations from several organizations and related industries are currently under review so as adopt them to hit the ground running, including:

  • NENA (National Emergency Number Association) Security for Next-Generation 9-1-1 standard
  • Next Generation 9-1-1 Security (NG-SEC) Audit Checklist
  • FCC Task Force on Optimal PSAP Architecture: Final Report
  • NIST SP 800-171 Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information in Nonfederal Systems and Organizations (and its compliance)
  • NENA Detailed Functional and Interface Standards for the NENA i3 Solution (for various vendor products)

Next Steps

We expect to issue standards and an auditing process to verify how well the standards are followed by the end of 2019, so that the various PSAP entities in the state can complete their gap analysis. Beginning on January 1, 2020, the ENSB will begin approving projects for improving their cybersecurity posture.

About the Author

DasMarch2018v6Balakrishnan Dasarathy, Ph.D. is collegiate professor and program chair for Information Assurance at University of Maryland Global Campus.

Cyber Connections News Roundup: October 8

Get the latest cybersecurity news from leading companies, news outlets and blogs.

Cyber Connections News Roundup is a bi-weekly brief of online links to news stories and commentary of interest to the cybersecurity community, delivered on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. Articles are selected for their newsworthiness, timeliness, potential impact, and reach.

October 8, 2019

UMGC Celebrates Cybersecurity Awareness Month with Activities and Information Aimed at Helping You Stay and Secure Online

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which takes place every October, is a great time to review online security habits at home and at work. At University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), we will be busy this month getting information out on a variety of topics, including cyber hygiene, cyber careers and more. Check out what’s happening this month:

  • This year’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month theme emphasizes personal accountability and stresses the importance of taking proactive steps to enhance cybersecurity at home and in the workplace. The overarching message – Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT. – focuses on three key areas including citizen privacy, consumer devices, and ecommerce security. This month, UMGC cyber faculty, students and alumni have joined together for a video series that kicks off on Wednesday, October 8 on the UMGC Global Media Center. Faculty and students will share their insights into each of the NCSAM themes and offer tips on understanding and securing your digital profile at home and at work.
  • Earlier this month we teamed up with the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) to present “Decoding Your Cyber Career,” a one-day informational networking event on Oct. 2 to promote careers in cybersecurity. Attendees heard from cyber experts and educators about the demand for cybersecurity professionals, the latest trends within the industry, and the ways to best leverage knowledge, skills, and certifications for career success. Check out our coverage of the event, which featured keynote speaker Matt Dunlop, vice president and chief information security officer of Under Armour, Mike Janke, CEO and co-founder of DataTribe, as well as a panel of cybersecurity employers and students who shared their insights.
  • Finally, be sure to visit the Cyber Connections blog on Oct. 15 for a post from Balakrishnan Dasarathy, UMGC professor and program chair, cyber operations & information assurance, in which he discusses a state-wide effort in Maryland to convert its voice network-based 911 systems to IP and digital-based 911 systems. Dasarathy is involved in this effort and will share his insights into the associated cybersecurity challenges, such as ransom ware and denial of service attacks.

Happy National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Stay safe and stay tuned!

Cyber Connections News Roundup: September 24

Get the latest cybersecurity news from leading companies, news outlets and blogs.

Cyber Connections News Roundup is a bi-weekly brief of online links to news stories and commentary of interest to the cybersecurity community, delivered on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. Articles are selected for their newsworthiness, timeliness, potential impact, and reach.

September 24, 2019

Microsoft to Offer Free Security Support for Windows 7 Ahead of 2020 Election

According to a recent report on www.cyberscoop.com, Microsoft Corp. will offer state and local election officials free security support for Windows 7 operating systems used in voting systems through 2020. Microsoft has long planned to stop providing security updates for Windows 7 users in general in January 2020, but was allowing users to pay for those updates through January 2023. The offer of free services through next year’s U.S. presidential election represents an additional effort to make it easier to update operating software used in voting systems, such as the election management systems that format ballots. Read more.

Are Recent Saudi Oil Attacks a Sign of More Cyber Warfare to Come?

The recent attack against Saudi Aramco, claimed by U.S intelligence and the Saudi government to be the work of Iran, is a continuation of a long-simmering cyber war between the two countries, according to an article on www.cnbc.com. In recent years, Iran has deployed destructive computer viruses against Saudi Arabia, which has been slow to strengthen its defenses. The report warns that investors should expect long-term cyber espionage and flare-ups of malicious activity, including the potential for destructive attacks that hurt companies in the region beyond Aramco. Read more.

Los Angeles Becomes First City in Nation to Offer Public Threat-Sharing Platform

According to a recent article on www.lasentinel.net, the city of Los Angeles has unveiled the Threat Intelligence Sharing Platform, as well as a free mobile app that will help people detect malicious email. This, according to Mayor Eric Garcetti, makes Los Angeles the first city in the nation to release a publicly available threat-sharing platform and cybersecurity app. The platform is the creation of the LA Cyber Lab, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the public and businesses from cyber threats by facilitating and promoting innovation, education and information sharing between public and private sectors. Read more.

Citing Cybersecurity Concerns, Colorado Bans QR Codes on Ballots

Colorado has become the first state in the U.S. to ban the use of QR codes on ballots, according to a recent article on www.thehill.com. In announcing the change, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D) said that cybersecurity experts have raised concerns around the security of using the QR codes on ballots. Griswold also cited findings by U.S. intelligence that Russian operatives attempted to interfere in the 2016 presidential election as a reason to enhance cybersecurity of elections. Colorado will now require that votes only be counted based on human-verifiable information, specifically the marked ovals on the printed ballot, and not based on the counting of votes embedded in QR codes. Read more.

Cyber Attacks Exploit People and Not Technology According to Proofpoint Report

According to the results of Proofpoint’s 2019 Annual Human Factor Report, virtually all successful email-based cyber attacks require the target to open files, click on links, or carry out some other action. Although a small fraction of attacks rely on exploit kits and known software vulnerabilities to compromise systems, the vast majority of campaigns, 99%, require some level of human input to execute. These interactions can also enable macros, so malicious code can be run. A recent article about the report on www.zdnet.com notes how increasingly difficult it is to distinguish a malicious email from a regular one, mainly because tailored attacks look as if they come from a trusted source, such as cloud service providers like Microsoft or Google, colleagues, or even the boss. Read more.

Cyber Connections News Roundup: September 10

Get the latest cybersecurity news from leading companies, news outlets and blogs.

Cyber Connections News Roundup is a bi-weekly brief of online links to news stories and commentary of interest to the cybersecurity community, delivered on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. Articles are selected for their newsworthiness, timeliness, potential impact, and reach.

September 10, 2019

U.S. CISO Schneider: Federal Government Must Lead on Cybersecurity

U.S. Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Grant Schneider, speaking at the recent Billington Cybersecurity Summit (Sept. 4-5 in Washington, D.C.), said that the federal government must lead by example for the private sector and American citizens in how to properly manage cybersecurity. In a recent conference summary on www.fedscoop.com, Schneider’s argument for a U.S. leadership role stems from the federal government’s efforts to set cybersecurity policies and requirements and develop tools that bring agencies together in a unified posture against threats. “Private entities look at the requirements that we put upon federal agencies,” Schneider said. “Government agencies can also serve as an example for how you can best protect your information as a citizen or as a corporation,” he added. Read more.

Flagstaff Schools Close Due to Ransomware Attack

Flagstaff Unified School District officials worked over the weekend of Sept. 7-8 to resolve a cybersecurity issue that forced closures of all schools on September 5-6. According to a report on www.usnews.com, officials from the school district said they were working to secure critical internet-based systems while investigating the origin and possible damage resulting from the ransomware in the district’s computer system discovered on Sept. 4. Officials cut off access to the internet and hundreds of teachers and other district employees on Friday turned in their Windows devices at a nearby middle school so they could be scanned for contamination and have new malware protection installed. Read more.

New Online Training Game Brings Cybersecurity to Life

According to a report on www.khq.com, ​ThreatGEN, a cybersecurity training and services company based in Houston, Texas, released what it claims to be the world’s first online multiplayer computer game designed to teach cybersecurity. Titled ThreatGEN®: Red vs. Blue, the game aims to create an immersive cybersecurity experience that teaches practical applications of cybersecurity concepts that have traditionally been more strategic or abstract, such as building a cybersecurity program and managing a budget. Read more.

Proliferation of Augmented Reality Applications Exposes Security Risks

A recent article on www.forbes.com examines the cybersecurity implications of augmented reality (AR), a technology that enhances objects that reside in the real world through computer-generated information. AR technology is advancing rapidly as commercial applications are being implemented in manufacturing, industry, shipping and logistics. But the growth of AR applications brings with it an expanding landscape of new cybersecurity vulnerabilities as adoption often outpaces a thorough vetting of any associated security risks, particularly as it involves wearable or tablet-based AR applications that require Wi-Fi. Read more.

Nearly 40% of Enterprises Lose Business Due to Cybersecurity Performance

According to a new commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of BitSight, titled “Better Security And Business Outcomes With Security Performance Management,” nearly two in five enterprises admit that they have lost business due to either a real or perceived lack of security performance within their organization. The study, based on a survey of 207 security decision makers, evaluates how executives understand and effectively measure their cybersecurity performance and adequately communicate it to the board, senior executives, customers, and critical stakeholders. Read more.