Wednesday, May 29, 2013

China's military to train on digital warfare

China, often linked to alleged cyberattacks, is apparently training military forces on digital combat and "informationalized" war.
According to state-sponsored news agency Xinhua, the People's Liberation Army plans to launch digital war games next month focused on developing new combat forces that specialize in cyberwarfare.
The news agency says this will be the first time the army "has focused on combat forces including digitalized units, special operations forces, army aviation and electronic counter forces." Drills will be carried out late next month at the Zhurihe training base in northern China.
The army's general staff department said eight military academies and forces from the Beijing Military Area Command will participate in the exercises.
In March, the Pentagon warned China to cease a cyberespionage campaign against the U.S., which allegedly involves Chinese hackers stealing intellectual property "on an unprecedented scale." The demand came after security firm Mandiant released a report that claimed an "overwhelming percentage" of cyberattacks on U.S. corporations, government agencies, and organizations originate from China.
A confidential U.S. Defense Science Boardreport for the Pentagon recently alleged that Chinese hackers have managed to expose and potentially steal data relating to U.S. advanced military weapons and systems. The report said that over two dozen weapon system designs were compromised and may have been stolen in order to jump-start the development of Chinese military technology.
In Australia, ABC television reported that hackers originating from China have stolen floor plans relating to a new headquarters for the Australian Security Intelligence Organization.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Senators want sanctions against countries that support cyberattacks

Possible sanctions could include immigration and trade limits with countries accused of harboring cyberattackers, lawmakers say

By Grant Gross
May 8, 2013 01:49 PM ET

IDG News Service - Two U.S. senators will push Congress or President Barack Obama's administration to pursue trade and immigration sanctions against China and other countries that allegedly support cyberattacks on U.S. government agencies and businesses, the lawmakers said Wednesday.
Senators Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, and Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, called on the administration, including the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation, to step up efforts to battle cyberattacks.
Congress or the administration should block immigration from countries supporting cyberattacks on the U.S. and it should limit trading with those countries, Graham said during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee's crime subcommittee.
"Our Chinese friends seem to be hell bent on stealing anything they can get their hands on here in America," Graham said. "We're going to do something about this. We're going to put nation states on notice that, if you continue to do this, you'll pay a price."
Witnesses pointed at China as the major source of cyberattacks on the U.S.
Graham asked witnesses to identify the top countries where attacks originate. Both Kevin Mandia, CEO of security vendor Mandiant, and Stewart Baker, a partner at law firm Steptoe & Johnson and former assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said China was by far the top attacker.
Russian attackers seem to abide by some rules of engagement and tend to withdraw after U.S. security professionals catch them attacking networks, Mandia said. "The Chinese are like a tank through a corn field, they just keep mowing through it," he said.
Graham asked Mandia and Baker for two-page memos detailing Chinese attacks that he would take to officials with the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. "I'll give you 100 pages, sir," Mandia said.
Representatives of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., didn't immediately respond to a request for comments on the hearing.
Whitehouse also called on the DOJ and FBI to be more aggressive in their pursuit of cybercriminals. "It is all well and good to complain about [intellectual property] thefts through diplomatic channels, but at some point, you need to stop complaining and start indicting," he said.
Representatives of the DOJ and FBI said they've worked hard on cybercrime and brought several cases in recent years. Law enforcement's ability to investigate and prosecute cybercrime has improved dramatically in recent years, they said.
Graham questioned if Congress was giving the agencies enough resources to fight cybercrime. Federal law enforcement agencies have significant resources to fight bank robberies and other physical crimes, but the resources to fight cybercrime haven't caught up with the problem, he said.
Cheri McGuire, vice president of global government affairs and cybersecurity policy at security vendor Symantec, agreed. "We are not putting enough resources against this today," she said. "We've got a long way to go to catch up."
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government forThe IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Gauging BYOD acceptance

The debate about the bring-your-own-device movement (BYOD) has quieted down, mostly because, it seems, while IT has been over in the corner arguing the pros and cons, employees have been streaming into office with their shiny new toys and using them to get work done.
That suspicion, in fact, is verified by a new study of subscribers to Network World and sister publications (including Computerworld, InfoWorld, CIO and about the consumerization of IT.
While more than 80% of 1,600 shops surveyed said they have initiatives in place to enable use of consumer technologies at work, nearly half say these efforts are still reactive in nature. Only 33% say they have proactively stepped out in front to address the issue. That last roughly 20%? They are stubbornly trying to hold back the tide, reporting they have no initiatives underway.
The bulk of the shops (two-thirds) that allow BYOD let employees bring in and use what they want, while roughly one-fifth say they give employees an allowance to buy the tools they like.
Not surprisingly, smartphones top the list (at 60%) of the BYOD devices that IT has agreed to service and support, but laptops and tablets were right up there at 57% and 51%, respectively. Even employee-owned desktops made the list at 47%.
Perhaps the most interesting findings, however, concerned the perceived benefits that BYOD is delivering.
A whopping 35% of the shops surveyed say consumerization of IT will have a dramatic positive impact on user satisfaction over the next 12-18 months. Another 47% say it will have a moderately positive impact, which, taken together, means more than 80% of the IT folks surveyed see BYOD as a big win.
User productivity also scores high, with 76% saying consumerization will have a moderate or dramatic positive impact, while 70% expect the same benefit for business agility, and 69% say consumerization will dramatically or moderately improve process efficiency/collaboration.
What about revenue growth? Oddly enough, given the positive outlook about the business benefits cited above, some 56% of the shops say consumerization will have little or no impact on sales. Go figure.
When it comes to lingering doubts, security tops the list of challenges organizations are most concerned about when it comes to consumerization, followed by privacy/compliance issues, loss of control, problems tying BYOD tools to existing systems/services, and protection of intellectual property.
Read more about anti-malware in Network World's Anti-malware section : By John Dix

Twitter Breach Leaks 250,000 User E-mails & Passwords

The big news for the past few days was a rather sizable Twitter hack, although it’s only a small percentage of the 140 million strong Twitter user-base – 250,000 is still a large number.
If you were affected you will have received a password reset e-mail and will be prompted to change your password if you try and login via the Web.
There seems to have been a spate recently of fairly high profile attacks originating from China, I saw someone say “If you haven’t been hacked by China this month, you aren’t working hard enough”.
If you find that your Twitter password doesn’t work the next time you try to login, you won’t be alone. The service was busy resetting passwords and revoking cookies on Friday, following an online attack that may have leaked the account data of approximately 250,000 users.
“This week, we detected unusual access patterns that led to us identifying unauthorized access attempts to Twitter user data,” Bob Lord, Twitter’s director of information security, writes in a blog post.
According to Lord, Twitter was able to shut down the attack within moments of discovering it, but not before the attackers were able to make off with what he calls “limited user information,” including usernames, email addresses, session tokens, and the encrypted and salted versions of passwords.
The encryption on such passwords is generally difficult to crack – but it’s not impossible, particularly if the attacker is familiar with the algorithm used to encrypt them.
As a precaution, Lord says Twitter has reset the passwords of all 250,000 affected accounts – which, he observes, is just “a small percentage” of the more than 140 million Twitter users worldwide.
There haven’t been many details disclosed about this attack, but it seems Twitter managed to discover it whilst it was actually taking place – and managed to shut it down fairly fast. It seems, by the data leaked, that the attacker managed to compromise a fairly core part of the Twitter infrastructure.
They have reacted quickly though and reset the affected accounts, which indicates they know exactly what data the attackers managed to access.
If yours is one of the accounts involved, you’ll need to enter a new password the next time you login. Lord reminds all Twitter users to choose strong passwords – he recommends 10 or more characters, with a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols – because simpler passwords are easier to guess using brute-force methods. In addition, he recommends against using the same password on multiple sites.
Lord says Twitter’s investigation is ongoing, and that it’s taking the matter extremely seriously, particularly in light of recent attacks experienced by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal:
This attack was not the work of amateurs, and we do not believe it was an isolated incident. The attackers were extremely sophisticated, and we believe other companies and organizations have also been recently similarly attacked. For that reason we felt that it was important to publicize this attack while we still gather information, and we are helping government and federal law enforcement in their effort to find and prosecute these attackers to make the Internet safer for all users.
Although the attack took place this week, it seems to have no relationship to the outage that took Twitter offline for several hours on Thursday. On the other hand, however, Lord’s post does make rather cryptic mention of the US Department of Homeland Security’s recent recommendation that users disable the Java plug-in in their browsers. He mentions Java twice, in fact.
You can read the Twitter response here:
Both the WSJ and NYT have recently been raided by China based hacking crews, no one knows if this is the work of government backed cyberterrorism squads, or just private hackers doing it for profit or even fun. You can read more about that here:
Source: The Register