Cyber Connections News Roundup: May 17

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.

May 17

First Six HCBUs to Receive IBM Cybersecurity Leadership Centers

According to a recent report on www.voanews.com, six historically Black universities (HBCUs) in five Southern states will be getting the first IBM Cybersecurity Leadership Centers aimed at training underrepresented communities, the company said. The schools are Xavier University of Louisiana, that state’s Southern University System, North Carolina A&T, South Carolina State, Clark Atlanta and Morgan State universities. The centers will give students, staff, and faculty access to modern technology, resources, and skills development, as well as further enhance ongoing activities on several key areas, including cybersecurity, data science analytics, cloud computing, IOT, blockchain, design thinking, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence. IBM first announced its pledge to partner with HBCUs in 2021. Read more.

Maryland Governor Hogan Signs Cybersecurity Legislation to Bolster Resources and Assistance

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan last week signed measures to strengthen cybersecurity in state and local governments in the State after lawmakers approved legislation earlier in the year to protect vital systems against cyberattacks. According to a report on www.washingtonpost.com, one of the measures aims to help local governments, school systems and health departments work with more resources and assistance from the Maryland Emergency Management Agency to improve cybersecurity. The bipartisan legislation calls for roughly $570 million in cybersecurity and information technology upgrades. That includes about $200 million for cybersecurity and nearly $334 million for information technology development projects. Read more.

Microsoft Introduces New and Expanded Security Service

Microsoft recently announced that it is offering new and expanded services for security under a new service category, Microsoft Security Experts, according to the company. Security Experts includes three new managed services—Microsoft Defender Experts for Hunting, Microsoft Defender Experts for extended detection and response (XDR), Microsoft Security Services for Enterprise—as well as two existing services, Microsoft Security Experts for Modernization, and Microsoft Security Experts for Incident Response. Read more.

Costa Rica Declares State of Emergency Over Ransomware Attack

According to a recent article on www.nbcnews.com, hackers crippled computer networks across multiple government agencies in Costa Rica, including the Finance Ministry. As a result, Costa Rica has declared a state of emergency. The official declaration, published on a government website Wednesday, said that the attack was “unprecedented in the country” and that it interrupted the country’s tax collection and exposed citizens’ personal information. The hackers initially broke into the Finance Ministry on April 12, it said. They were able to spread to other agencies, including the Ministry of Science, Technology and Telecommunications and the National Meteorological Institute. Read more.

SEC Bolsters Crypto Unit to Combat Rising Fraud

According to a recent article on www.cyberscoop.com, hackers have defrauded more than $1 billion from cryptocurrency investors to date this year. As a result of  rise in fraud, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has announced that it is going to double its staff working to resources to combat the rise in fraud. The bolstered Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit will be at the forefront of protecting investors and ensuring fair and orderly markets in the face of these critical challenges. The unit has brought more than 80 proceedings against companies and individuals in relation to fraudulent and unregistered crypto asset offerings and platforms, according to an SEC press release. Read more.

Cyber Connections News Roundup: May 3

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.

May 3

Stormous Claims Credit for Recent Ransomware Attack on Coca-Cola

A recent report on www.securityboulevard.com claims that a recent ransomware attack Coca-Cola in Brazil was perpetrated by the ransomware group Stormous, a Russian-affiliated threat actor. The group, active since 2021, recently announced its support for the Russian government and its intention to attack Ukrainian government institutions, according to the article. Stormous said it had hacked some of the company’s servers and passed a large amount of data inside them without their knowledge, and we want to sell it to someone else. Read more.

Opening Twitter’s Algorithms to the Public Exposes the Company to Risk

Upon striking a deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion on April 25, Tesla’s Elon Musk suggested that he will make Twitter’s algorithms available to the public. According to a recent article on www.cyberscoop.com, sharing Twitter’s code doesn’t necessarily pose a cybersecurity threat, but exposing code does expose potential vulnerabilities that criminals and disinformation operators can use to sow havoc. The idea of open sourcing code means that both good and bad actors can inspect it. We don’t know yet what code Musk plans to make available, but we do know that every nation-state hackers will be eager to find out. Read more.

New Survey Shows the Many Companies Focus on Role of Hardware in Cybersecurity

A recent article on www.forbes.com highlights the findings of a recent Ponemon Institute survey commissioned by Intel to examine trends in cybersecurity budgets and how organizations are allocating that money to try and stay a step ahead of attackers. In the survey Ponemon found that 36% of respondents say they have adopted hardware-assisted security solutions and another 47% of respondents say their organizations will adopt these solutions in the next six months (24%) or 12 months (23%). Of those same 36% of respondents using hardware-assisted security solutions, 85% say hardware and/or firmware-based security is a high or very high priority in their organization. Read more.

Department of Energy Invests $12 Million In New Cybersecurity Research Projects

According to a recent report on www.scmagazine.com, the Department of Energy is funding behind six university-led cybersecurity research projects that look for innovative ways to securely build or design the nation’s next generation of energy systems. According to the Department of Energy, each of the six projects will receive approximately $2 million and features a university team leading the effort alongside other academic, non-profit and private sector partners. Three of the projects will focus on artificial intelligence solutions that can automate parts of the cybersecurity operations for energy systems. The universities involved include Florida International University, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina, Iowa State University, University of Texas El Paso, Texas A&M, Rutgers University, Oregon State University, New York University, University of Arkansas, Illinois Institute of Technology, Virginia Tech, and University of Michigan-Dearborn. Read more.

U.S. Cyber Command Awards Massive Contract to Conduct Cyber Operations Abroad

U.S. Cyber Command has awarded a nearly $60 million contract to Sealing Technologies to provide equipment to conduct defensive cyber operations abroad on the networks of partner nations, according to a recent article on www.fedscoop.com. The contract is for hunt-forward operations, which involve physically sending defensively-oriented cyber protection teams from the Cyber National Mission Force to foreign nations to hunt for threats on their networks at the invitation of host nations. Sealing Technologies’ prototyped solution will support automated deployments, configurations and data flows for cyber ops. It is modular in self-contained units that can be carried on commercial aircraft, according to the company. Read more.

Cyber Connections News Roundup: April 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.

April 19

FDA and Congress Are Trying to Protect Medical Devices from Hacks

A recent report on www.theverge.com examines the steps that Congress and the Food and Drug Administration have taken to protect medical devices, such as infusion pumps and imaging machines, from cyberattacks.  Congress with a proposed bill and the FDA with new draft guidelines for device makers on how they should build devices that are less likely to be hacked. The FDA has updated guidelines introduced in 2018 with a new draft based on feedback from manufacturers and other experts and changes in the medical device environment over the past few years. Meanwhile, Congress proposed the Protecting and Transforming Cyber Health Care (PATCH) Act, which would require device manufacturers to have a plan to address any cybersecurity issues with their devices. Read more.

U.S. Charges Four Russians For Global Energy Hacks

According to a recent article on www.theguardian.com, the United States Justice Department has unveiled criminal charges against four Russian government officials, saying they engaged in two major hacking campaigns between 2012 and 2018 that targeted the global energy sector and affected thousands of computers across 135 countries. In one unsealed indictment from August 2021, the DoJ said three alleged hackers from Russia’s Federal Security Service carried out cyberattacks on the computer networks of oil and gas firms, nuclear power plants, and utility and power transmission companies across the world between 2012 and 2017. In a second unsealed indictment from June 2021, the DoJ accused Evgeny Viktorovich Gladkikh, a Russian ministry of defense research institute employee, of conspiring with others to hack the systems of a foreign refinery and install malware known as “Triton” on a safety system produced by Schneider Electric. Read more.

Cybersecurity at Home: Children Are the Weak Link

According to a recent article on www.forbes.com, the most important vector within our homes that we often neglect are children. Kids, tweens and teens are often the most unsecured consumers, yet they are some of the most highly connected vectors, especially as they are now using new technology like cryptocurrency and starting to explore the metaverse. The targeting of kids is expected to come even more into the mainstream as cybercriminals continue to try and make use of consumer vulnerabilities. Education around gaming safety, providing security software, and basic cyber hygiene offer a good starting point. Read more

State Department Cyber Bureau Officially Launches

The Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy officially launched Monday at the State Department, according to a recent report on www.cyberscoop.com. The bureau will address the national security challenges, economic opportunities, and implications for U.S. values associated with cyberspace, digital technologies, and digital policy, according to a news release. The bureau eventually will be led by a Senate-confirmed ambassador-at-large. For now, Jennifer Bachus, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, is serving as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the CDP bureau. Read more.

Craig Newmark Donates $50 Million for Citizen Cyber Defense

According to a recent report on www.washingtonpost.com, philanthropist and Craig’s List founder Craig Newmark is donating $50 million to what he’s calling a “civil cyber defense” effort aimed at broadly raising cybersecurity standards for small businesses and regular U.S. citizens. The concept was inspired by people who performed non-military services during World War II, such as building victory gardens. The funding will be aimed broadly at building and promoting cybersecurity tools that are easy for average citizens to use, pushing companies to make technology more secure by default and publicizing vetted information about which products are most secure. Read more.

Cyber Connections News Roundup: March 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.

March 22

Lawmakers Fear Cryptocurrency Will Offer Russia

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are worried that cryptocurrency will serve as a way for Russia to evade sanctions, according to a recent report on http://rollcall.com. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies could undermine the effectiveness of sanctions against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, the lawmakers say, but other tech experts believe that cryptocurrency provides greater transparency for law enforcement. To date, U.S. government agencies have reported little indication of such evasion from Russian oligarchs and other sanctioned individuals or organizations. Read more.

Gender Diversity in Cybersecurity Starts with Early Education and Overcoming Biases

Historically, women’s path to STEM-related careers has been challenging, whether through unconscious bias, lack of early education and mentoring, or work-life balance hurdles. According to the latest research by the non-profit cybersecurity certification group (ISC)2, men continue to dramatically outnumber women in the field—only 24 percent of cybersecurity professionals are female—and pay disparity persists. What is the most effective way to close the gender gap in cybersecurity? Loyce Pailen, Valorie King, and Tamie Santiago, members of the University of Maryland Global Campus School of Cybersecurity & Information Technology faculty, share their opinions on the ways we can close the gender gap in cybersecurity. Read more.

Cybersecurity in the Wake of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

A recent article on www.bloomberg.com examines the prospect of an increase in Russian cyberattacks as sanctions pile up and cripple Russia’s economy. The article speculates that as Russia transforms into an isolated rogue state, cybercrime syndicates may emerge from the Kremlin to generate revenue by using ransomware, financial malware and cryptocurrency theft. According to the article, this move would clarify what security analysts believe to be an unofficial relationship between the government and hacking gangs that has existed for years. Read more.

Google Fortifies Cloud Security with Purchase of Mandiant

According to a recent article on www.nytimes.com, in one of its largest acquisitions Google purchased cybersecurity firm Mandiant for roughly $5.4 billion. In adding more cybersecurity services, Google aims to differentiate its cloud computing business from that of Amazon and Microsoft. The acquisition of Mandiant, which is based in Virginia and has more than 2,300 employees, is Google’s second-largest deal ever, trailing only the company’s $12.5 billion acquisition of the phone company Motorola in 2011. Read more.

Chip Shortage Could Anticipate National Security Concerns

Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee earlier this month, National Security Agency Director Gen. Paul Nakasone said that China’s increasing progress toward producing enough semiconductor chips domestically to avoid relying on foreign trade is of great concern, according to a recent report on www.cyberscoop.com. China’s increasing progression toward so-called chip independence would give the Chinese more leverage to act as they please without fear of sanctions, according to Nakasone. Nakasone also suggested that China could supply chips to Russia, helping Vladimir Putin’s government evade crippling economic sanctions. Read more.

Cyber Connections News Roundup: March 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.

March 8

Maryland General Assembly Rolls Out More Cybersecurity Protections

Members of the Maryland General Assembly introduced a package of bills to offer more protections to state and local government online networks on March 2 following the discovery of numerous vulnerabilities in the state’s cybersecurity systems, according to a report on https://wtop.com. Del. Patrick G. Young Jr. (D-Baltimore County) and Sen. Katie Fry Hester (D-Howard), who co-chaired the Maryland Cybersecurity Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on State and Local Cybersecurity, and co-chair the Joint Committee on Cybersecurity, Information Technology and Biotechnology, are co-sponsoring the package of bills. The package includes House Bill 1202 and Senate Bill 754, which would require the Maryland Department of Emergency Management to help local governments prepare for the possibility of an attack. Read more.

Cybersecurity Will Be a Priority of the Biden Administration in 2022

A recent article on www.cpomagazine.com offers a survey of the Biden-Harris Administration’s cybersecurity initiatives, a priority of his presidency. Since signing EO 14028, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a Cyber-Fraud Initiative, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security formed a Cyber Safety Review Board (CSRB), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced its intention to seek enforcement actions against organizations that fail to mitigate known cybersecurity vulnerabilities. It is believed that the government will continue to focus on improving cybersecurity related to the services and products provided by government contractors. Read more.

Senate Passes Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Bill  

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the “Strengthening American Cybersecurity Act” on March 2 to bolster critical infrastructure cybersecurity amid fear of possible Russian cyberattacks in retaliation for U.S. sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine, according to a recent report on https://hehill.com. The bipartisan legislation stipulates entities that experience a cyber incident to report the attacks within 72 hours to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), in addition to alerting the agency about ransomware payments within 24 hours. Affected organizations are required to preserve relevant data and promptly share updates. The Strengthening American Cybersecurity Act of 2022 combines three different bills: the Cyber Incident Reporting Act (CIRA), the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), and the Federal Secure Cloud Improvement and Jobs Act (FSCIJA). Read more.  

New York Establishes First-in-Nation Cyber Operations Center

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and a group of mayors from around the state on Feb. 22 opened what they called a first-in-nation operations center for state and local cybersecurity needs, according to a recent report on https://statescoop.com. Hochul said the new Joint Security Operations Center, located in Brooklyn, is designed to give New York’s municipalities more assistance in defending themselves from criminal threats like ransomware and potential activity by foreign government-backed actors. The center’s development was inspired partly by post-9/11 counter terrorism policies like the widespread expansion of FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Forces, which now number more than 200 nationwide. The new cybersecurity center will also serve the private sector and state’s critical infrastructure operators, including the Metropolitan Transit Authority, the New York Power Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Read more.

How Individuals Can Prepare for the Threat of Digital Danger

Although there have been no credible cyberthreats against the U.S. homeland thus far during Russia’s war with Ukraine, a recent article on www.nytimes.com titled, “A Paranoid Person’s Guide to Preparing for Digital Danger,” the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency(CISA) has urged organizations and individuals to be prepared for the possibility that the situation could change. For the individual, many of the precautions that we are (or should be) taking now are the same ones are the ones we should take during a heightened cyber warfare climate, such as good digital hygiene. The article urges individuals to ask the following three questions when a strange email arrives: Is it from someone I know? Is it what I was expecting? Is it in the format I was expecting? Read more.

Cyber Connections News Roundup: February 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.

February 22

Super Bowl Crypto Ad Stirs Cybersecurity Debate

According to a recent article on https://readme.security, a Super Bowl ad from cryptocurrency platform Coinbase featuring a bouncing QR code stirred a debate within the cybersecurity community. The controversial part of the ad had nothing to do with cryptocurrency. Instead, it was the company’s decision to display a simple QR code that might convince Super Bowl viewers to scan questionable QR codes could take them to malicious web pages. “There’s always potential for mischief with something like this,” said UMGC’s Jesse Varsalone, associate professor for computer networks and cybersecurity. Varsalone pointed out that some services allow people to access their accounts with little more than a QR code. Read more.

DOJ Warns Companies to Boost Cybersecurity Amid Russia Tensions

A recent report on https://abcnews.go.com warns companies in the U.S. and abroad to shore up their cybersecurity defenses amid a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco issued the warning on Feb. 17. “Given the very high tensions that we are experiencing, companies of any size and of all sizes would be foolish not to be preparing right now as we speak,” she said. Her warning comes on the heels of other U.S. agencies warning earlier last week of a cyberattack happening at the same time as a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine. Read more.

New Players Emerge on Cybersecurity Threat Landscape

According to an article on www.zdnet.com, new countries are investing in cyber-intrusion campaigns and existing state-backed attack groups are taking advantage of the rise in cloud application adoption. Citing Crowdstrike’s 2022 Global Threat Report, the article goes on to say that the cyber threat landscape has evolved to include the rise of new countries engaging in offensive cyber operations, including Turkey and Colombia. As an example, the report discusses a Turkish-based hacking group, dubbed Cosmic Wolf by researchers, which targeted data of an unspecified victim stored within an Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud environment in April 2021. Read more.

Metaverse Is Ripe for Cybersecurity Threats

An article on www.venturebeat.com examines how the “metaverse,” the much-talked-about and somewhat hazy concept of networked 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection, is ushering in a host of cybersecurity concerns, from common cybersecurity issues like phishing to a rise in scams related to non-fungible tokens (NFTs), cryptocurrency wallets, vulnerable virtual reality devices, and a rise in blockchain scams. The largest concern, according to the article, may center on data privacy and security, as the demand for user data is most likely to grow with the Metaverse. Read more.

Experts Look Rise in Romance Scams

According to a recent article on www.cyberscoop.com, the Federal Trade Commission reports that online romance scams continued to grow in 2021, and cryptocurrency payments now represent a big chunk of the money lost. Complaints about romance scams totaled $547 million overall last year, up about 80 percent from the $307 million reported to the FTC in 2020. Of that total, $139 million in reported losses came from cryptocurrency transactions. Victims are led to believe their new online companion is a successful investor who, before long, offers investment opportunities that involve foreign exchange (forex) trading or cryptocurrency. Read more.

Cyber Connections News Roundup: February 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.

February 8

Athletes Using Burner Phones in Beijing Due to Cybersecurity Concerns

The FBI has encouraged U.S. Olympic Athletes to use burner phones (inexpensive phones that can be destroyed) while competing in the Winter Olympics, according to a recent article on www.wect.com. The FBI released a statement last week encouraging Olympians to leave their phones and bring burner phones to Beijing, China because of cybersecurity concerns. The FBI says the agency tracked over 450 million cyber-related incidents during the 2020 games, but none were successful, thanks to cybersecurity measures put in place ahead of time. According to the article, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee provided new phones and numbers to athletes leaving for China. Read more.

Microsoft Reveals Russia’s Ukraine Hacking Campaign Tactics

Microsoft on Feb. 4 revealed some of the techniques adopted by the Russia-based Gamaredon hacking group to facilitate cyber espionage attacks aimed at several entities in Ukraine over the past six months, according to a report on https://thehackernews.com. The attacks are said to have singled out government, military, non-government organizations (NGO), judiciary, law enforcement, and non-profit organizations with the main goal of exfiltrating sensitive information, maintaining access, and leveraging it to move laterally into related organizations. Microsoft’s Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) is tracking the events. Read more.

DHS Creates Cybersecurity Review Board

The Department of Homeland Security recently announced the creation of a new Cyber Safety Review Board. According to a report on www.federaltimes.com, the new body will have public and private sector experts examine significant hacking incidents and recommend improvements. The board is modeled after the National Transportation Safety Board, which reviews plane crashes and other major accidents, and was mandated by an executive order President Joe Biden signed last May. Read more.

White House Zero-Trust Strategy Revealed

The White House on Jan. 26 published a final version of its zero-trust architecture strategy, which is intended to substantially improve the cybersecurity of government agency systems by 2024. According to an article on www.fedscoop.com, the document includes a new enhanced focus on multi-factor authentication, a requirement that departments move towards encrypting all DNS requests and HTTP traffic and begin to segment their network perimeters into separate isolated environments. Within 60 days of the memorandum being issued, agencies must incorporate the additional requirements identified in the document and submit an implementation plan for fiscal 2022-2024 to OMB and CISA for review. Read more.

An Emerging Remedy to Hospitals Hit by Ransomware

Ransomware threats to hospitals threaten public health, the economy, and our ability to lead normal lives, according to a recent article on www.wsj.com. The problem, too big for federal and local governments to solve alone, requires a radical shift in how we think about cybersecurity. A new model, Secure Access Service Edge, offers an affordable way for smaller organizations to set up an efficient and secure network without having to commit to hardware or IT specialists they can’t afford. Like Software as a Service, this model allows organizations to access applications online rather than buying, installing, and managing expensive software. Read more.

Cyber Connections News Roundup: January 25

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.

January 25

FBI Warns that QR Codes Are Under Attack

QR codes, that square, scannable bar codes that are key to contactless transactions, are under attack by cyber criminals, according to a recent report on www.threatpost.com. The FBI, according to the article, is warning that cybercriminals are capitalizing on lax security to steal data and money, and drop malware. QR codes are easily tampered with and can be used to direct victims to malicious sites, the FBI warned in an alert. Read more.

Kronos Customers Scramble to Recover from December Ransomware Attack

According to a recent article on www.morningbrew.com, many companies impacted by the ransomware attack on the Ultimate Kronos Group’s payroll, time and attendance management platform are still recovering. The attack last December that affected 2,000 clients that depend on the Kronos Private Cloud (KPC) left many with no alternative plans to process time and attendance data for payroll processing, and to manage schedules and  other operations. Read more.

Red Cross Cyberattack Impacts Work to Reunite Families

A cyberattack compromised personal and confidential data on more than half a million people helped by at least 60 Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations around the world, according to a recent report on www.cyberscoop.com. The International Committee of the Red Cross said that the hack compromised personal data including names, location and contact information of 515,000 individuals served by the group, including children and detainees. Read more.

NSF Awards $29 Million in Cybersecurity Scholarships

The National Science Foundation, according to a recent article on www.forbes.com, is awarding $29 million to fund hundreds of scholarships at eight universities that will train more cybersecurity professionals. The grants cover a five-year period and will provide $3-4 million in funding to each university. In exchange for receiving a scholarship, students will agree to work in cybersecurity jobs for federal, state, local or tribal governments after their graduation. All the new projects will include efforts to strengthen the recruitment and retention of a diverse student body, helping fulfill NSF’s intention to improve the representation of groups historically underrepresented in cybersecurity careers. Read more.

Cybersecurity flaws in the Beijing 2022 App Could Leave Olympians at Risk

According to a recent article on www.dw.com, the Beijing 2022 smartphone app has vulnerabilities that could lead to hacking. Athletes headed to the Beijing Winter Games must keep in line with China’s health measures on the My 2022 smartphone app. But inadequate encryption measures within the app can leave Olympians, journalists and sports officials vulnerable to hackers, privacy breaches and surveillance. According to the article, the Dutch Olympic Committee banned its athletes from bringing personal phones and laptops because of surveillance concerns. Read more.

Cyber Connections News Roundup: January 11

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.

January 11

DoD Launches University Consortium for Cybersecurity

The Department of Defense has launched the University Consortium for Cybersecurity, or UC2, according to a recent report on www.defense.gov. UC2 will facilitate two-way communication between the Secretary of Defense and academia across the U.S. UC2 will work with community colleges and historically Black universities as well as larger research universities. The Center for Secure and Dependable Systems at the University of Idaho, a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity, was selected to serve as the UC2 support center. Other organizations represented at the event included the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Policy, and the House Armed Services Committee. Read more.

Cryptocurrency Crime on the Rise in 2021

According to a recent Chainalysis report, cryptocurrency related crime hit a new high in 2021. As reported on www.cyberscoop.com, illicit addresses tracked by Chainalysis received $14 billion in deposits over the course of 2021, almost double the amount they collected in 2020. Chainalysis found it that cryptocurrency-related scams and theft saw the biggest jumps in 2021. Illicit revenue from scams rose by 82% in 2021 to $7.8 billion worth of cryptocurrency. Researchers attribute a large part of the growth to a boom in so-called “rug pulls,” a fraud scheme in which developers set up seemingly legitimate cryptocurrency projects with the intent to steal investors’ money and disappear. Read more.

FBI Warns of Ransomware Hack Via Mailed USB Drives

According to a recent article on www.cnn.com, an Eastern European cyber criminal group has tried to hack US companies in the transportation, defense and insurance sectors by mailing those organizations malicious USB drives. The companies received a series of fake letters via the US Postal Service and UPS from August to November impersonating the Department of Health and Human Services in some cases, and Amazon in others, according to the FBI. The letters came with a USB stick laced with malicious software. If inserted into a computer, the USB stick could potentially have given the hacking group access to an organization’s networks to deploy ransomware. Read more.

Google Acquires Cyber Startup Siemplify

Google has kicked off 2022 by improving its cloud-based and enterprise security with the acquisition of Siemplify, an Israel-based cybersecurity startup that specializes in end-to-end security services for enterprises, referred to as security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR) services. According to a recent report on www.techcrunch.com, Siemplify will be integrated into the Google Cloud Platform, and specifically its Chronicle operation. Read more.

Is Space the Next Cybersecurity Frontier?

According to a recent article on www.scmagazine.com, the “final frontier” is an areas where we can expect to see bad actors preying on organizations that rely on satellite-based connectivity. The satellite internet industry has taken off in the past few years. SpaceX and Amazon, for example, are working to build satellite-based networks that consist of thousands of small, individual satellites, and Boeing plans another 147 broadband satellites. As satellite-based internet access continues to grow, experts predict that cyber criminals will target organizations that rely on satellite-based connectivity to support low-latency activities, such as delivering critical services to remote locations or online gaming, as well as cruises and airlines, pipelines and remote field offices. Read more.

UMGC Faculty Experts Make Their Predictions for 2022

Zero Trust networks, attacks on the metaverse, cooperative threat hunting, and more. Faculty members in the School of Cybersecurity & Information Technology offer their forecasts for the year ahead. 

The Metaverse Will Become More Vulnerable to Ransomware Attacks 

Jason M. Pittman, Sc.D., collegiate faculty, School of Cybersecurity & Information Technology 

We will begin to see ransomware attacks push into the metaverse, the burgeoning iteration of the internet that supports online 3-D virtual environments accessed through conventional personal computing, as well as virtual and augmented reality devices such as headsets. Specifically, these attacks will target social media influencers on Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms. Augmented reality brings with it a host of truly novel vulnerabilities. Cybercriminals will seek to exploit weaknesses in the devices that enable access to the metaverse, or even from within augmented reality itself.  

An Increase in Zero-trust Frameworks Will Help Security Architects Protect Cloud and On-site Premises 

James Robertson, Ed.D., Program Director, Cyber DevOps, School of Cybersecurity & Information Technology  

As the number of cloud migrations increase, understanding the shared responsibility model—between the security team and provider—continues to be problematic. Cloud migrations and environment updates happen on an increased timeline which, if not handled, can cause security controls to be missed or weakened. Authorization boundaries are often blurred or ill-defined in cloud development efforts leaving additional security gaps. Adopting a Zero Trust model, which incorporates many mechanisms, including the monitoring and logging of all network traffic at those authorization boundaries, will enforce controls for system and application access and protects data. 

Threat Intelligence Sharing and Cooperative Threat Hunting Activities Will Rise 

Valorie King, Ph.D., Program Director, Cybersecurity Management and Policy, School of Cybersecurity & Information Technology  

Threat intelligence sharing and cooperative threat hunting activities will increase in importance as businesses and government organizations seek to improve collaboration and proactively identify potential threats and sources of threats. Stand-alone defenses of an organization’s assets and infrastructures are no longer sufficient to prevent and deter attacks against digital assets and business processes. Additionally, phishing will become more subtle and focused as attackers increase their use of data analytics to target and manipulate specific individuals within organizations.  

Innovative Attack Methods Using Artificial Intelligence Will Expand the Threat Landscape  

Philip Chan, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor, School of Cybersecurity & Information Technology  

In 2022, the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will expand the cybersecurity threat landscape, bringing new dangers and altering the typical characteristics of threats. Attackers will employ new and highly innovative methods, notably Machine Learning (ML), which will enable cybercriminals to use AI to carry out more cyber and ransomware strikes. AI/ML techniques will generate more sophisticated phishing intrusions, pervasive ML email attacks and zero-day attacks on top of other well-known ransomware deployments. In the hands of cybercriminals, AI/ML can create significant harm as machine-learning and deep-learning techniques will make cyberattacks more accessible. The result? Faster, better-targeted, and more destructive assaults.  

Attacks on the Software Supply Chain Will Ramp Up, as Will Demands for Transparency  

Chris Hughes, Adjunct Professor, School of Cybersecurity & Information Technology  

Due to several high-profile software supply chain attacks, most notably SolarWinds, we will continue to see an increased focus on the software supply chain. With the Cybersecurity Executive Order, the evolution of the Software Bill of Materials, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and emerging guidance from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the software supply chain is one of the most talked-about subjects—and will continue to be so for the coming year. Software consumers are demanding increased transparency from software producers who, in turn, are eager to gain consumer trust. Organizations such as the Cloud Native Computing Foundation are hosting entire conferences that focus on the software supply chain. Emerging technologies and practices are being honed to provide never-before-seen levels of transparency in the software ecosystem.