Cyber Connections News Roundup: Jan. 12

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 12

Did the Riot at the Capitol Pose a Cybersecurity Threat?

The pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol’s Senate floor and Capitol rotunda on Wednesday may have breached more than just the building’s physical security, according to a recent article on www.latimes.com. Could any computers left on be vulnerable? University of Maryland Global Campus’s Jesse Varsalone, associate professor of computer networks and cybersecurity, quoted in the article, said that if rioters got their hands on congressional computers that were still logged in, they may have been able to access information. But if those computers were encrypted, they wouldn’t be able to get anything, he said. Read more.

Biden Team Taps Neuberger for New White House Cybersecurity Role

According to a recent report on www.politico.com, Anne Neuberger, an National Security Agency veteran, who has been serving as the agency’s director of cybersecurity since 2019, will be named deputy national security adviser for cybersecurity in the incoming National Security Council. Neuberger’s hiring indicates that the Biden White House intends to reelevate cybersecurity as a key national security priority. Neuberger will be responsible for coordinating the federal government’s cybersecurity efforts, notably to look into the massive cyberespionage campaign carried out last year by suspected Russian hackers. Read more.

SolarWinds APT Hack Serves As Wake Up Call

Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs), in which an unauthorized user gains access to a system or network and remains there for an extended period of time without being detected, have been around for a while. The recently detected, high-profile SolarWinds APT hack that targeted several US federal departments, private companies and critical infrastructure organizations has raised many questions that are yet to be answered, according to a recent article on www.www.csoonline.com. Learning more about this breach calls for a refocus on improving cybersecurity both in the governmental and private sectors, and for a holistic point of view whereby we analyze and understand flaws in identification, protection, detection, response and recovery. Read more.

Threat Detection and Remediation Are Key to Preventing Next SolarWinds Breach

Big cyberattacks keep coming, according to a recent article on www.cnbc.com. But we should not be tempted to view them as common annoyances. The recent SolarWinds breach should serve as a wake-up call. It was a global supply-chain attack without precedent. It hit dozens of organizations from the U.S. Treasury to Intel and Cisco. And the hackers’ weapons of choice were not new. The bottom line is that breaches are guaranteed, so the real remedy is rapid threat detection and remediation. Without it, adversaries that evade prevention products find themselves roaming target networks at will, sometimes for month. In this crisis, it was nine months. Read more.

Businesses Need to Take Notice that Criminals Are Using AI for Cyberattacks

While artificial intelligence (AI) is being used by companies to combat breaches, attackers also are using it to their advantage, according to a recent report on www.forbes.com. For example, AI is being used to impersonate trusted users, able to  replicate the tone, language, and style of a user to the point where you won’t be sure it’s from them or not. AI is also being used to disguise itself inside your systems by learning the communication methods, ports, and protocols most commonly used within the company. The bottom line is that criminals are using AI today and companies need to invest in AI-enabled cybersecurity. Read more.

UMGC Cyber Experts Predict Rise in Attacks on Software, Cloud and Critical Infrastructure in the Year Ahead

In this end-of-the-year post we offer a reprint of our annual predictions and trends to watch out for in 2021, featured on the University of Maryland Global Campus Global Media Center back in November.  

UMGC Cyber Experts Predict Rise in Attacks on Software, Cloud and Critical Infrastructure in the Year Ahead

What a year 2020 has been. The Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on our lives in so many ways—how we work, conduct business, socialize, learn and simply go about our daily routines. It also has affected the security of the workplace and individuals. We have seen a rise in phishing, ransomware and other types of malicious attacks due, in large part, to the dramatic increase in remote work and learning.

Meanwhile, the lead-up to the November 3 election exposed both the real—and imagined—vulnerabilities in the nation’s disparate voting systems. A citizenry that was already anxious about voting during a pandemic also had to sort through a tsunami of news stories questioning the legitimacy of election results and the accuracy and security of our voting process.

Will the cybersecurity concerns of 2020 carry over into the new year?

Here are the top six trends and predictions to watch for in 2021, according to University of Maryland Global Campus cybersecurity faculty experts Valorie King, program director for UMGC Cybersecurity Management and Policy; Bruce DeGrazia, collegiate professor, Cybersecurity Management and Policy; and James Robertson, program director for Cyber DevOps.

From Valorie King, program director, UMGC Cybersecurity Management and Policy

  • Attacks on Remote Workers: Phishing attacks, ransomware, and other types of malicious software-based attacks will create more havoc in the coming year as perpetrators shift their attack vectors and methods to focus on remote workers. Organizations will need to update their incident response plans and procedures to account for attacks against a dispersed workforce that is using an increasing variety of remotely connected and potentially vulnerable devices.
  • Demand for IT Support: In order to protect geographically dispersed IT assets and information as they defend against threats and attacks, organizations with remote workers will need to hire and train more IT technicians and IT help desk personnel who have advanced cybersecurity skills and knowledge. This trend will be fueled by the need to patch and maintain increasing numbers of laptops and other digital devices, the need to remotely install and maintain more software, and the need to set up and then deploy new computers, tablets, phones and other equipment to a remote workforce.

From Bruce DeGrazia, collegiate professor, Cybersecurity Management and Policy

  • State-Sponsored Cyberattacks: The Russians, Chinese, North Koreans and Iranians have already seen how effectively they can create chaos both through cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns. Expect to see further attempts at disruption as these countries test the incoming Biden administration.
  • Attacks on the Utility Infrastructure: We will see a rise in critical infrastructure attacks, particularly to the electrical grid, but also against alternative energy-generating industries as we continue to shift away from fossil fuels. These attacks will soon target alternative energy-generation facilities as they become more prevalent.

From James Robertson, program director for Cyber DevOps

  • Threats to Cloud Security: As more organizations move to the cloud, security issues resulting from poor or expedited implementations will result. Understanding the shared responsibility model—the responsibility for security is shared between the provider and the customer—is key in mitigating these issues.
  • AI Vulnerabilities: Increases in artificial intelligence/machine learning applications will cause an increase in vulnerabilities and weaknesses, including the ability to contaminate training pools, modify validation sets, and create AI systems that learn from previous successful attacks to expedite attacks on other hosts.

Cyber Connections News Roundup: Dec. 15

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.

December 15

The Relationship Between Security Profile and Stock Performance

Is there a connection between a public company’s cybersecurity posture and its stock performance? A recent report by the Journal of Cyber Policy analyzes the relationship between a public company suffering a data breach and a decline in its share price. The paper also seeks to answer whether the converse is true. Does a company with a robust cybersecurity posture enjoy a strong stock performance? The report compares security ratings from SecurityScorecard with 52-week returns on shares for companies in the S&P 500 index, which comprises the shares of 500 large U.S. companies. Read more.

President Signs IoT Security Act

On December 4, 2020, President Trump signed bipartisan legislation establishing minimum security requirements for Internet of Things (“IoT”) devices used by the federal government. The legislation, H.R. 1668, passed the House in September and the Senate in November. According to a report on www.jdsupra.com, the act directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to issue standards for the “appropriate use and management” of IoT devices owned or controlled by federal agencies. NIST is directed to issue these guidelines by March 4, 2021. Read more.

CISA Reports Rise in K-12 Ransomware Attacks

According to a recent article on www.statescoop.com, more than half of all ransomware attacks against state and local government entities reported over the past few months have targeted K-12 school systems. This comes from a Dec. 10 alert from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). According to the alert, 57% of ransomware incidents reported to in August and September — when new academic years began — affected school districts, compared to 28% in the first seven months of the year. And ransomware events against schools have continued to tick up since September, including an attack last month against the K-12 district in Baltimore County, Maryland, that caused classes to be canceled for several days around the Thanksgiving holiday. Read more.

Proposed Cybersecurity Agenda for Biden Includes Elevating Role of CISA

A recent article on www.fortune.com outlines a proposed cybersecurity agenda for the incoming Biden administration. The authors of the article, Samuel J. Palmisano, retired CEO of IBM and current chairman of the Center for Global Enterprise, and Kiersten E. Todt, managing director of the Cyber Readiness Institute, propose a set of priorities for Biden’s cybersecurity agenda that include, among other objectives, re-examining the organization of the Department of Homeland Security and consider making the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) a stand-alone agency with increased budget and personnel resources. Read more.

Foreign Governments Most Likely Behind Recent Vaccine Spearphishing Activity

A recent article on www.cyberscoop.com reports that while drug companies are turning their attention from development of a vaccine to deployment, hackers are doing the same. The article reports that IBM researchers recently revealed a global spearphishing campaign aimed at companies involved in the storage and transport of vaccines in temperature-controlled environments. IBM suspects the attackers are tied to a government but doesn’t have enough evidence to determine which one. The IBM findings illustrate how hackers have been targeting pharmaceutical companies involved in vaccines throughout their entire development lifecycle. Read more.

Cyber Connections News Roundup: Dec. 1

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.

December 1

UMGC Cyber Experts Predict Rise in Attacks on Software, Cloud and Critical Infrastructure in 2021

This year, the Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on how we work, conduct business, socialize, learn and simply go about our daily routines. It also has affected the security of the workplace and individuals with a rise in phishing, ransomware and other types of malicious attacks. Meanwhile, the lead-up to the November 3 election exposed both the real—and imagined—vulnerabilities in the nation’s disparate voting systems. Read our top six trends and predictions to watch for in 2021, according to University of Maryland Global Campus cybersecurity faculty experts Valorie King, program director for UMGC Cybersecurity Management and Policy; Bruce DeGrazia, collegiate professor, Cybersecurity Management and Policy; and James Robertson, program director for Cyber DevOps. Read more.

Is the Healthcare Industry Under Cyber Attack?

According to a recent article on https://threatpost.com, hackers are setting their sights on healthcare. In the article, cyber experts explore why hospitals are being singled out and what any company can do to better protect themselves. Namely, as systems are stretched to the limits by COVID-19 and technology becomes an essential part of everyday patient interactions, hospital and healthcare IT departments have been left to figure out how to make it all work together, safely and securely. And the connectivity of devices within the  hospital is exponentially increasing the attack surface. Read more.

Senate Sends Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act (H.R. 1668) to President

By a unanimous consent, the U.S. Senate voted to send the IoT Improvement Act to the White House for the President’s signature. As reported on https://cisomag.eccouncil.org, the bill, first introduced in 2017 and reintroduced in 2019, passed the U.S. House of Representatives in September 2020 by voice vote. The new IoT legislation, which is backed by Reps. Will Hurd (R-Tex.), Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Cory Gardner (R-Colo), mandates the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to create recommendations to address cybersecurity issues and release guidelines for government agencies that align with the NIST recommendations. Read more.

Trump Fires CISA’s Krebs, Instrumental in Securing the 2020 Election from Interference and Disinformation

President Donald Trump on Nov. 17 fired Chris Krebs, director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Krebs, who helped protect the 2020 election from hacking and disinformation, had repeatedly debunked baseless claims from Trump and his allies of widespread electoral fraud while generally avoiding mentioning the president by name, according to an article on www.cyberscoop.com. Trump tweeted Tuesday evening that he fired Krebs because his agency issued a “highly inaccurate” statement that the 2020 election was secure. The White House also forced the resignation of Krebs’ deputy, Matt Travis, on Tuesday evening. Travis’ resignation from CISA makes Brandon Wales, CISA’s executive director, the acting head of the agency. Read more.

Rotating Assignments Will Boost Federal Cyber Workforce Says OPM

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is encouraging federal agencies to use rotational cybersecurity assignments to build and sustain a federal cybersecurity workforce and create a pipeline of cybersecurity talent, according to a recent article on www.fedscoop.com. According to a Nov. 18 memo from OPM acting Director Michael Rigas, 120-dayd assignments will allow cybersecurity practitioners to learn new skills through hands on experience and provides the individuals with a more comprehensive understanding of the complexity and depth of cybersecurity work across the Federal Government. Read more.

Cyber Connections News Roundup: Nov. 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.

November 17

Continued Learning and Passion are Key Career Success Cyber Professionals Say

Breaking into cybersecurity and choosing the right path, said a trio of former University of Maryland Global Campus students, often depends on one’s academic and professional goals. UMGC graduates Jordan Bennet, Kimberly Mentzell and Tony Punturiero  agreed that the recipe for cyber career success usually includes the combination of early experiences and influencers, continual learning and a passion for the discipline. The three alumni shared their practical experiences in achieving their career aspirations as participants of a late October webinar, moderated by Dianne O’Grady-Cunniff, director of the Maryland Center for Computing Education, that was part of the university’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month observance. Read more

Department of Defense Names New Cyber Chief

The Department of Defense has announced that has Dave McKeown will be its next chief information security officer (CISO), according to a recent report on www.fedscoop.com. McKeown is a long-time government IT and security official who served most recently at the Department of Justice. He replaces former CISO Jack Wilmer, who departed in July to lead a private security company. Before leading enterprise services at DOJ, McKeown ran enterprise services and cybersecurity for the DOD’s Joint Service Provider, an IT service that, among other things, supplies Wi-Fi to the Pentagon. He is also a retired Air Force officer. Read more.

New (ISC)2 Workforce Study Shows that Cybersecurity Talent Gap Is Narrowing

(ISC)², the nonprofit association of certified cybersecurity professionals – released the findings of its 2020 Cybersecurity Workforce Study. For the first time, the study indicates a year-over-year reduction in the cybersecurity workforce gap, due in part to increased talent entry into the field and uncertain demand due to the economic impact of COVID-19. According to an article on www.securitymagazine.com, the research, conducted from mid-April through June 2020, reveals that the cybersecurity profession experienced substantial growth in its global ranks, increasing to 3.5 million individuals currently working in the field, an addition of 700,000 professionals or 25% more than last year’s workforce estimate. Read more.

New (ISC)2 Perception Study Reveals Barriers to Entry for Cyber Jobs

Meanwhile, a recent article on www.helpnetsecurity.com examines some of the barriers that are preventing job seekers from considering a career in cybersecurity. The recent 2020 (ISC)² Cybersecurity Perception Study asked 2,500 people across the U.S. and the U.K. who don’t currently work in cybersecurity roles and have never worked in the field about how they view cybersecurity workers, whether they would consider entering the field, and what’s stopping them from doing it. Although most participants viewed cybersecurity professionals as smart, technically skilled individuals, only 8% considered working in the field at some point. One of the biggest deterrents to entering the field was the distorted perception that you must highly specialized, technical skills. Read more.

US Seized Domains with Ties to Iranian Influence Campaigns

The U.S. Department of Justice has seized 27 internet domains, including four that the feds say were targeted directly at U.S. audiences, according to a recent report on www.cyberscoop.com. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) unlawfully used the domains to “covertly influence” opinions in the U.S. and elsewhere, the department said in an announcement on Nov. 4. In early October, the feds seized 92 domains under similar allegations. Later that month, the Treasury Department sanctioned five Iran-linked organizations for spreading disinformation and making other attempts to sow discord in the U.S. Read more.

Cyber Connections News Roundup: Nov. 4

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 4

Can Our Elections Be Completely Secure?

Bruce deGrazia, University of Maryland Global Campus collegiate professor of cybersecurity management and policy, offered a historical look at the inner workings of voting systems and related cybersecurity challenges in U.S. election processes during an Oct. 19 session of the university’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month webinar series. deGrazia, a former election judge in Chicago, said any system is vulnerable to corruption, hacking or irregularities that might compromise accuracy or security. Apart from apprehension about actual voting systems, hacking and disinformation related to candidates and parties also is of great concern. “Hacking mainly occurs on candidate and party websites,” he said. Read more.

Cyber Attacks on American Hospitals Feared Just as COVID-19 Cases Surge

According to a recent report on www.nytimes.com, hundreds of American hospitals are being targeted in cyberattacks that are intended to take those facilities offline and hold their data hostage in exchange for multimillion-dollar ransom payments, just as coronavirus cases spike across the U.S. Russian hackers, believed to be based in Moscow and St. Petersburg, have been trading a list of more than 400 hospitals they plan to target. On Oct. 28, three government agencies — the F.B.I., the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency — warned hospital administrators and security researchers about a “credible threat” of cyberattacks. Read more.

Trustwave Discovers Hacker Selling Information on 186 Million Voters

Global cybersecurity company Trustwave said it has found a hacker selling personally identifying information of more than 200 million Americans, including the voter registration data of 186 million. According to a report on www.nbcnews.com, much of the data identified by Trustwave is publicly available, and almost all of it is the kind that is regularly bought and sold by legitimate businesses. However, that so many names, email addresses, phone numbers and voter registration records were found for sale in bulk on the so-called dark web a highlights how easily criminals and foreign adversaries can deploy it as the FBI said Iran has done recently, by sending emails designed to intimidate voters. Read more.

Recent State, Local Government Hacking the Result of  Russian Group

Suspected Russian hackers were behind multiple recent intrusions of U.S. state and local computer networks, according to a recent article on www.cyberscoop.com. The group responsible is known as TEMP.Isotope, according to a private advisory distributed by Mandiant, the incident response arm of security company FireEye. The apparent Russian effort to breach state and local networks so close to the U.S. election has had federal officials and private sector experts focused on investigating and remediating the issue. Read more.

Schools Can Employ Low-Cost Tactics to Prevent Cybercrime Starting with Data Security

Schools are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks right now because they have been forced to completely re-envision and restructure the way they teach students, according to a recent article on https://edtechmagazine.com. A combination of minimal preparation time, changing protocols and tight budgets can create a breeding ground for cybersecurity risks. But K-12 schools can mitigate cybersecurity risks in four steps, starting with revisiting data security. Keeping data secure means understanding exactly what sensitive data you possess, where it lives in your system and who has access to it. Read more.

Cyber Connections News Roundup: October 20

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 20

Recent Barnes & Noble Breach Included Customers’ Personal Information

According to a report on www.securitymagazine.com, Barnes & Noble notified customers on Oct. 10 that it had been the victim of a cybersecurity attack, which resulted in unauthorized and unlawful access to certain Barnes & Noble corporate systems and may have affected customers’ personal information. The company said that customers’ payment details had not been exposed, as it uses technology that encrypts all credit cards. The systems impacted did contain email addresses, as well as billing and shipping address, and telephone number if they were supplied by the users. Read more.

Investigators into Twitter Hack Call for Greater Security Regulation

A recent article on https:// techcrunch.com details how an investigation into this summer’s Twitter hack by the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYSDFS) concluded that the social media giant let itself “be duped by a simple social engineering technique.” The NYSDFS report called for greater security regulation for key social media platforms. In the report, the NYSDFS pointed out how quickly regulated cryptocurrency companies acted to prevent the Twitter hackers scamming even more people, arguing the biggest social media platforms have great societal power but no regulated responsibilities to protect users. Read more.

Why You Need to Know the Difference Between Cybersecurity and Cyber Resilience

It goes without saying that cyberattacks, making headlines with increased frequency, according to a recent article on www.forbes.com, can be devastating to companies large and small, causing service disruption, reputational damage and financial distress. bust the loss of personal data can also result in huge fines from regulators. This is why all companies need to invest in cybersecurity and cyber resilience. In a nutshell, cybersecurity describes a company’s ability to protect against and avoid the increasing threat from cyber crime. Meanwhile, cyber resilience refers to a company’s ability to mitigate damage (damage to systems, processes, and reputation), and carry on once systems or data have been compromised. Read more

Is Employee Cybersecurity Training Working?

The theme of this year’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month is “Do Your Part. Be Cyber Smart” to promote and encourage accountability at the personal and corporate level. However, according to a recent article on https://securityboulevard.com, although many organizations provide cybersecurity training/education, 43% of employees are not aware that clicking on a suspicious link or attachment in an email can introduce malware. The publication, citing the “2020 State of Privacy and Security Awareness Report” by Osterman Research and MediaPRO, offers additional statistics that demonstrate that quite often corporate training is not sinking in. Read more.

Financial Institutions Implement Cutting-Edge Technologies to Keep Customers Safe

Financial institutions average $100 billion in losses due to cyber crime each year with hackers targeting multiple access points to customers’ financial data, according to a recent article on https://securityboulevard.com. The publication offers a detailed overview of the technological advances  financial services companies are implementing to protect user data. On the cutting edge of this security are blockchain, triple-entry accounting, and tokenization systems. Blockchains, for example, invented for and popularized by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, are highly encrypted and decentralized networks of data. When it comes to financial security, blockchain brings some of the benefits of cryptocurrency to all transactions. Read more.

Cyber Connections News Roundup: October 6

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 6

UMGC Recognizes Cybersecurity Awareness Month with a Jam-Packed Webinar Series

How safe is the election process from hacking? How can schools best provide a quality education through digital means? How has remote education and work increased cyber exposure? During the month of October, University of Maryland Global Campus cyber faculty and industry guests will share their insights into these topics and many more as we recognize and promote Cybersecurity Awareness Month with a webinar series to promote online safety and best practices. Learn more.

Supply Chain Attacks and Credential and Identity Theft Top List of Financial Services Cyber Threats

According to a recent article on www.securitymagazine.com, malicious threat actors continue to take advantage of financial services organizations as they reconfigure vulnerable supply chains and offer more digital experiences. Summarizing a new Accenture report, “2020 Future Cyber Threats: The latest extreme but plausible threat scenarios in financial services,” working from home has also opened a pandora’s box of new attack vectors and workforce challenges — including those from insider threats. The Accenture report is based on research by the Accenture cyber threat intelligence team and highlights its top six threats. Read more.

Twitter Hires New Cyber Chief after Well Publicized Breach

Following its well-publicized breach in July, Twitter has hired Rinki Sethi as its new chief information security officer (CISO), according to a recent report on https://techcrunch.com. Sethi served as CISO at cloud data dmanagement company Rubrik, and previously worked in cybersecurity roles at IBM, Palo Alto Networks and Intuit. In the new role at Twitter, overseeing the company’s information security practices and policies, Sethi will report to platform lead Nick Tornow. Sethi also serves as an advisor to several startups, including LevelOps and Authomize, and cybersecurity organizations, including Women in Cybersecurity. Read more.

House Passes Cyber Grant Program for State and Local Governments

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed legislation to create a new federal grant program supporting state and local government cybersecurity efforts, according to a recent report on https://statescoop.com. The State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act, introduced in February and initially sponsored by a bipartisan group of members of the House Homeland Security Committee, directs the Department of Homeland Security to distribute $400 million annually to states, which could then redistribute their awards to local entities to defend themselves from online threats. Read more.

Healthcare Organizations Fall Short on Cybersecurity

A recent article on https://securityboulevard.com discusses the findings of the annual report by cybersecurity healthcare services provider CynergisTek, Moving Forward: Setting the Direction, released last week and based on the risk assessments performed across 300 organizations. This year’s report found that just 44% of healthcare providers — hospital and health systems, hospitals, physician practices, ACOs, and Business Associates — met the criteria details within the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cybersecurity Framework (NIST CSF). Some organizations, the report found, actually lost ground. The report found that just having a bigger budget didn’t necessarily mean better security outcomes. Interestingly, some organizations with bigger budgets performed more poorly than their smaller counterparts who had less to invest. Read more.

Cyber Connections News Roundup: September 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.

September 22

Sen. Warner Urges Additional Protection for K-12 Schools Against Cyber Attacks

According to a recent report on https://augustafreepress.com, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) is urging the U.S. Department of Education to develop guidance and disseminate best practices for K-12 schools and institutions of higher education and to work with school districts to develop a comprehensive, risk-based funding request from Congress. The request follows a ransom ware incident at Fairfax County Public Schools, the largest school system in Virginia. In a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Sen. Warner recommended providing schools with guidance, including awareness campaigns, risk management, threat mitigation, cybersecurity posture reviews, and resiliency. Read more.

Veterans Administration Hit With Data Breach

The Department of Veterans Affairs notified veterans Monday morning of a data breach that resulted in the exposure of 46,000 veterans’ personal information. According to a report on www.fedscoop.com, the breach appears to have stemmed from unauthorized users accessing an application within the Financial Service Center (FSC) to steal payment away from community health care providers. Malicious actors used social engineering techniques and exploited authentication protocols to gain access to the system. Read more.

Predictive Techniques in AI Key to Identifying Cyber Attacks

Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems can have three kinds of impact, according to a recent article on www.analyticsinsight.net. AI can grow cyber threats (amount); change the character of these dangers; and present new and obscure dangers. AI-fueled cyber attacks could likewise be available in more powerful, finely targeted and advanced activities. Accordingly, in a mix of defensive techniques and cyber threat detection, AI will move towards predictive techniques that can identify Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) pointed toward recognizing illegal activity within a computer or network, or spam or phishing with two-factor authentication systems. Read more.

Chinese and Iranian State-backed Hackers Target Biden and Trump

According to a report on www.cyberscoop.com, hackers linked with the Chinese government tried to breach associates of the Joe Biden campaign, while hackers with reported connections to the Iranian government targeted President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, Microsoft warned Thursday. The Chinese hacking group, which Microsoft calls Zirconium, has attacked high-profile individuals associated with the election. Meanwhile, Phosphorous, the Iranian group, has continued to try to break into the personal accounts of Trump campaign associates. The hacking attempts against the Biden and Trump campaigns were unsuccessful, Microsoft said. Read more.

White House Issues Cybersecurity Principles to Protect Investment in Space

The Space Policy Directive-5, signed by President Trump on Sept. 4, details a list of recommended best practices for securing the information systems, networks and radio-frequency-dependent wireless communication channels that together power US space systems, according to a recent article on www.infosecurity-magazine.com. Examples of malicious cyber-activities harmful to space operations include: spoofing sensor data; corrupting sensor systems; jamming or sending unauthorized commands for guidance and control; injecting malicious code; and conducting denial-of-service attacks. Among the recommended best practice principles was the use of risk-based, cybersecurity-informed engineering. Read more.

Cyber Connections News Roundup: September 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.

September 8

Hackers Drain $7.5 Million from Jewish Federation of Greater Washington

An article on www.washingtonpost.com reports that the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington was hacked recently, which drained $7.5 million from its endowment fund and funneled the money into international accounts. The North Bethesda, Md.-based nonprofit, which works with more than 100 organizations, first discovered the hack Aug. 4, when its IT contractor detected suspicious activity in an employee’s email account. According to the article, the initial attack targeted an employee using a personal computer while working from home. Read more.

Sixteen-Year-Old Junior Arrested for Hacking Miami-Dade Online School System

Just as schools across the country began educating students online, police in Miami-Dade County, Florida arrested a Miami high school student on Sept. 3 for allegedly carrying out a series of cyber attacks targeting Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ online learning system. According to a recent article on https://abcnews.go.com, a 16-year-old junior at South Miami Senior High School in Miami-Dade County, Florida, carried out several Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks that disrupted teaching and learning across the district. Read more.

Understanding Cybersecurity Shortfalls is Key to Mitigating Remote Learning Risks

Online courses, whether hybrid in-person and online instruction or entirely remote, can create major cybersecurity risks, according to a recent article on https://edtechmagazine.com. To defend against threats, colleges and universities must keep up with evolving security postures in a rapidly changing cybersecurity landscape. This article looks at some common online-learning security shortfalls, including: a lack of IT funding; a lack of trust in digitally delivered higher education; and a lack of preparation in cybersecurity issues related to online learning. Read more.

Russia Ramps Up Attacks on Mail-in Voting

According to a recent article on www.cyberscoop.com, the Russian government continues to attack mail-in voting and sow divisions among voters leading up to the U.S. election. According a Department of Homeland Security memo, Russia will continue amplifying criticism of vote-by-mail amid the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to undermine public trust in the electoral process. Moscow’s denigration of the vote-by-mail process mirrors criticisms leveled by President Trump, who has baselessly claimed that mail-in voting can lead to widespread fraud. Read more.

Are Small Businesses More Likely Targets of Cyber Criminals

A new survey by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) found that the majority of small businesses believe they are targets of cybercriminals. The Zogby Analytics survey, which was commissioned by the NCSA, polled 1,006 small business decision makers and revealed that 88% of small businesses believe that they are at least a somewhat likely target for cybercriminals, including almost half (46%) who believe they are a very likely target. Read more.