Latest "Cyber Data Security" Posts
Honestly, we don’t know yet. There was a time when our voting preferences, our political leanings, our policy choices were our own business. Now they are someone else’s business, quite literally. There are so many stories coming out about Donald Trump’s connections to and collusion with the Russians that it is getting hard to keep these accusations straight. Here’s the latest:
Trump Russia Investigation Update
The key word is help. As in, actively provide information that the Russians may not have been able to discover on their own. “Help” is not a synonym for encourage, appreciate or enjoy.
Without getting too political (because after all, this is a cyber security blog), here are the basics of the Trump-Russia Investigation from a cyber security perspective:
- The Trump campaign had possession of a huge amount of information about American voters from Cambridge Analytica, the data mining firm hired to help collect and use social media information to identify and persuade voters to vote (or not vote), through an activity known as political micro-targeting.
New Evidence Points to Russian Hacking of U.S. Power Grid
Russian hacking of the United States’ power grid isn’t just probable, it is already happening.
Hackers recently breached at least a dozen U.S. power plants, including the Wolf Creek nuclear facility in Kansas. It appears they were searching for vulnerabilities in the electrical grid, likely to be exploited at a later, more critical time. In a related case, hackers also recently infiltrated an unidentified company that makes control systems for equipment used in the power industry. Although none of the security teams analyzing the breaches have linked the work to a particular hacking team or country, the chief suspect is Russia. Why are they the primary suspect? Because Russian hackers have previously taken down parts of the electrical grid in Ukraine across several attacks and seem to be testing more and more advanced methods.
CYBER SECURITY EXPERTS SCREAM: IT’S NOT ABOUT MONEY, IT’S ABOUT INFLUENCE!
What will it take for the world to believe that cyber warfare, like the latest NotPetya Attack, is real and it is HERE NOW?
Will it take your company ceasing operations for the day, as hundreds of companies in at least 64 countries were forced to do?
Will it take your long-awaited surgery being cancelled, as occurred for many patients at Heritage Valley Health Systems in Pittsburgh?
Or will it ultimately take people dying (think power grids, airport operations, nuclear power plants being controlled) before everyone takes notice?
We read the headlines: another ransomware attack has hit– blah, blah, blah. It almost gets annoying hearing about them! Until you really think of the implications above. Yes, this time it mostly affected Ukraine, but someday, it will be YOU AND ME!
Our national security depends on cyber security, and Russian hacking threatens those defenses. Every day that I come to work, I see an erosion of traditional power structures at the hands of increasing cyber threats. The hacking of Yahoo by Russian operatives and the DNC are two such examples that have potentially shifted the balance of power from our marketplace and political sphere into the hands of Vladimir Putin, Russian cyber criminals and anyone piggybacking on their technology. Now that Roger Stone, an administration advisor, has admitted to contact with the DNC hacker (Guccifer 2.0), the ties are too direct to ignore. But we shouldn’t be doing this for purely political reasons, we should be doing it to clear our President and his administration of wrongdoing so that they can go on about governing the country and implementing their vision.
Election Hacking Confirmed: The NSA, CIA and FBI have universally concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin interfered with and quite possibly changed the outcome of our Presidential election. Regardless of who you voted for, your vote has been hacked. If you are a Clinton supporter, you face the prospect of your candidate having lost the election due to manipulation. If you are a Trump supporter, it’s possible that our future President’s mandate and credibility have been significantly undermined and eroded.
This is a major loss for both sides of the political spectrum – it is a massive loss for America as voiced by politicians both Republican and Democrat. In case you haven’t had time to keep up with the findings of the Director of National Intelligence, here are the nuts and bolts of what the NSA, CIA and FBI agreed on unanimously and with high confidence (a nearly unprecedented occurrence in intelligence history).
Not unlike the purported size of his hands, Donald Trump has a rather small file of publicly known information compared to those who have been in the political spotlight for many years. That could be one of the motivating factors behind the recent hacking of the Democratic National Committee. While the size of Trump’s hands has little to do with any serious conversation, it does remind us that foreign nation states are highly motivated to collect the private information of powerful people.
The DNC revealed recently that two groups had gained access to their information; one (dubbed Cozy Bear) had been monitoring the committee’s emails and chats for as long as a year. The other, “Fancy Bear”, hacked into the DNC in April to get opposition research files and was able to gain access to all of the DNC’s research staff computers.
Mark Zuckerberg Hacked Because of Weak Passwords
It seems Mark Zuckerberg might be a little lazy, or a little stupid, or at the very least a little embarrassed. The undisputed king of social media has had two of his social media accounts hacked. Granted, it was not his Facebook account—just his Pinterest and Twitter accounts, the latter of which he hasn’t used since 2012. A Saudi Arabian hacker team named OurMine has taken credit for the attack, claiming they got his password from the recent dump of information obtained in the LinkedIn data breach from 2012.
Let’s see where Mr. Zuckerberg went wrong by using the safe password development tips (in bold below) from his very own creation: Facebook.
Make sure your password is unique, but memorable enough that you don’t forget it. Supposedly, Zuckerberg’s password was “dadada”.
Whether data breach or insider leak, Panama Papers Cyber Security lessons still the same.
By now, you’ve heard about the leaked papers from a Panamanian law firm implicating world leaders, sports figures and celebrities alike in a scheme to shelter massive wealth in off-shore corporations (if not, see the NYTimes summary below for relevant links). At this point it is still unclear whether the 11.5 million records were obtained through hacking or leaked from someone inside of the Panamanian law firm.
But from a cyber security perspective, the lessons are nearly identical either way. At issue here is the massive centralization of data that makes either breach or leakage not only inevitable, but rather convenient. World leaders and executives alike must have a sense of deja vu from the leakage of the NSA documents by Edward Snowden several years ago. From a security perspective, it is baffling in both cases that one individual would have access to such a trove of data. This suggests that the records were not properly segmented, encrypted or subjected to user-level access permissions.
Ransomware: A Vital Course on the Next Big Cyber Threat
Ransomware is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: it holds your computer or mobile phone hostage and blackmails you into paying a ransom. It is a type of malware that prevents or limits users from accessing their system and forces its victims to pay the ransom through certain online payment methods in order to grant access to their systems or to get their data back.
It’s been around since about 2005, but earlier this year, the FBI issued an alert warning that all types of ransomware are on the rise. Individuals, businesses, government agencies, academic institutions, and even law enforcement agents have all been victims.