CYBER-SECURITY : WEEKLY REPORT (August 9, 2017)

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SUMMARY REMARKS

The risk of cyber-attacks targeting ships’ satellite navigation prompted nations to rush into developing back-up systems.  There have been a series of disruptions to shipping navigation in recent months.  Hundreds of South Korean fishing vessels had returned early to port last year after their GPS signals were jammed by hackers suspected to be from North Korea. In June this year, a ship in the Black Sea reported to the US Coast Guard Navigation Centre that its GPS system had been disrupted and that over 20 ships in the same area had been similarly affected. According to cyber specialists, the problem with GPS and other Global Navigation Satellite Systems is their weak signals, which are transmitted from 12,500 miles above the Earth and can be disrupted with cheap jamming devices that are widely available.

South Korea has brought out an alternative system using an earth-based navigation technology known as `eLoran’ to protect its shipping.  US, Britain and Russia have also explored adopting different versions of the technology, which works on radio signals. The American Congress initiated legislative process to have the Transportation department establish eLoran system. Russia is working on its own version of eLoran called `eChakya’, but the project looks stalled for now. There is general reluctance from many countries, including European nations, to commit to a back-up, which means that shipping is highly vulnerable for disruptions due to hacker attacks.

Chinese hacker groups appear to have stepped up their attacks on Indian IT systems while Beijing’s media blitzkrieg continued unabated to unnerve New Delhi and submit on the Doklam border dispute.  A leading Indian infrastructure company is the latest victim. Cybersecurity experts, engaged by the company, confirmed that Chinese hackers were behind the breach and they reportedly gained remote access to some of the most sensitive information for a fairly long period of time.  Several other Indian companies and some government institutions have also seen an increase in cyber-attacks originating in China.  Most companies, however, do not even know of the breaches, as Chinese hackers are “just observing” after gaining access rather than publicizing it. “The fear is not only that hackers would obtain information illegally or access defence data but also that they may manipulate public opinion through targeted propaganda over social media and modes of mass communication,” said Tushar Ajinkya, partner, DSK Legal.

Taking a cue from its `closest’ friend, Pakistan too has launched hacker attacks on several Indian institutions.  The hacker group code named “Pakistan Haxors Crew” wrote abuses about Indian government and Armed forces on the landing pages of the websites.  Some unidentified pro-India hackers retaliated by taking control of a Pakistani government website.

Meanwhile, cyber criminals are undeterred by international attention and have launched new ransomware attacks on the HBO media channel.  Hackers posted a fresh catche of stolen material including episode five of `Game of Thrones’ script, demanding a ransom of several million dollars to avoid further release of confidential program material.

INTER-STATE CYBER WARFARE

Chinese hackers step up attacks on Indian shores

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/internet/chinese-hackers-step-up-attacks-on-indian-shores/printarticle/59960536.cms  A leading Indian infrastructure company recently discovered to its dismay that its IT systems were compromised, with hackers gaining remote access to some of the most sensitive information for a fairly long period of time. While no official complaint has been made by the company, the attack might just be proverbial tip of the iceberg, and cyber­security experts engaged by the firm say Chinese hackers were behind the breach. Several Indian companies and some government institutions have seen an increase in cyber attacks originating in China, say industry trackers.

Pakistan govt website hacked; Hackers post Indian national anthem, I-Day greetings

http://www.livemint.com/Technology/A7cmHF6p2qWCrVW5ptIfBN/Pakistan-govt-website-hacked-Hackers-post-Indian-national-a.html  Unidentified hackers have posted Indian national anthem and Independence Day greetings on a Pakistani government website on Thursday. The incidents comes almost four months after a Pro-Pakistan group hacked the official websites of four prominent Indian institutes—Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT Delhi), IIT Varanasi, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Delhi University (DU)— and some lesser known institutions several times on Tuesday. The hacker group code named “Pakistan Haxors Crew ” wrote abuses about Indian government and the Indian Armed forces on the landing pages of the websites. The hacker group said: “Nothing deleted or stolen. Just here to deliver my message to Indians.”

Lessons from the Russian Front

http://www.defenseone.com/assets/lessons-russian-front/portal/?oref=email  This new Special Report examines how the 2014 Russian Invasion of Ukraine altered not only the future of Eastern Europe but the course of military technology as well. Since then, Ukraine has become a deadly testing ground for new battlefield tactics, hacks and technologies. This eBook takes a look at Russia’s new ways of war with the hope that it can help next-generation military leaders understand and deter a rising new threat to Western peace and security.

Exclusive: FBI tracked ‘fake news’ believed to be from Russia on Election Day

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/08/04/politics/election-day-cyber-threat-fbi-monitoring/index.html  FBI monitored social media on Election Day last year in an effort to track a suspected Russian disinformation campaign utilizing “fake news,” CNN has learned. FBI analysts had identified social media user accounts behind stories, some based overseas, and the suspicion was that at least some were part of a Russian disinformation campaign, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.

FBI warns on IP addresses of Iranian assets targeting US

https://fcw.com/articles/2017/08/04/fbi-cyber-warning-rockwell.aspx  The FBI sent out a flash notice in late July warning of a broad persistent cyberattack campaign backed by a group with assets based in Iran targeting U.S., Middle Eastern, and European networks. The FBI lists 87 IP addresses and 136 domain names associated with the group that targeted organizations should watch for, as well as some advice on mitigating exposure. At around the same time as the FBI’s warning, cybersecurity companies Tokyo-based Trend Micro and Israel-based Clearsky issued a report on “CopyKittens,” a cyberespionage group that the companies said uses many of the tactics described in the FBI warning. The report said CopyKittens’ focus was on spying on strategic targets in Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the U.S., Jordan and Germany.

Cyber threats prompt return of radios for ship navigation

http://www.business-standard.com/article/international/cyber-threats-prompt-return-of-radios-for-ship-navigation-117080800038_1.html  The risk of cyber attacks targeting ships’ satellite navigation is pushing nations to delve back through history and develop back-up systems with roots in World War Two radio technology. Unlike aircraft, ships lack a back-up navigation system and if their GPS ceases to function, they risk running aground or colliding with other vessels. South Korea is developing an alternative system using an earth-based navigation technology known as eLoran, while the United States is planning to follow suit. Britain and Russia have also explored adopting versions of the technology, which works on radio signals. The drive follows a series of disruptions to shipping navigation systems in recent months and years. Last year, South Korea said hundreds of fishing vessels had returned early to port after their GPS signals were jammed by hackers from North Korea, which denied responsibility.

CYBER TERRORISM

Encrypted app allows extremists to plot attacks without detection

http://www.homelandsecuritynewswire.com/dr20170809-encrypted-app-allows-extremists-to-plot-attacks-without-detection  The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) says that extremists and terrorists like ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Hamas are increasingly relying on encrypted applications like Telegram to recruit new members, fundraise, incite to violence, and even coordinate terrorist activity without detection from law enforcement. The CEP has just released a new report, Terrorists on Telegram.

Twitter can help predict crimes, shows study

http://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/twitter-can-help-predict-crimes-shows-study-117080300427_1.html  Microblogging site Twitter, which is open and accessible to anyone, can be used to help predict people engaged in criminal activity, a study has found. The research could assist police departments in resource allocation, deciding where and when to deploy officers.

CYBER CRIME

Hackers leak episode five `Game of Thrones’ script, demand millions from HBO in ransom money

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/magazines/panache/hackers-leak-more-game-of-thrones-script-demand-millions-from-hbo-in-ransom-money/printarticle/59964939.cms  In addition to what appear to be scripts from five “Game of Thrones” episodes, including one upcoming episode, the dump included a month’s worth of email apparently from the account of Leslie Cohen, HBO’s vice president for film programming. Hackers posted a fresh cache of stolen HBO files and part of what the purported hackers have claimed is a much larger trove of stolen HBO material. To stop the leaks, the purported hackers demanded “our 6 month salary in bitcoin,” which they implied is at least $6 million.

WannaCry attack hero Marcus Hutchins arrested for creating, selling malware

http://www.business-standard.com/article/international/wannacry-attack-hero-marcus-hutchins-arrested-for-creating-selling-malware-117080700173_1.html  A British security researcher, who became an internet hero after he was credited with stopping a malicious software attack this year, was arrested at the Las Vegas airport and charged in connection with a separate attack. Marcus Hutchins, the researcher, was widely praised for identifying a way to disable the WannaCry malicious software, or malware, attack that seized hundreds of thousands of computers this year. According to an indictment filed in federal court in Milwaukee Mr. Hutchins, 23, and an unidentified accomplice conspired to create and sell malware intended to steal login information and other financial data from online banking sites.

Stolen nude photos and hacked defibrillators: is this the future of ransomware?

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/aug/03/ransomware-future-wannacry-hackers New on the scene is a form of ransomware known as “doxware”. Basically what it says is ‘pay, or we’ll take all the stuff we encrypted and we’ll put it online with your name on it. The name comes from “doxing”, the term for publishing private information on the internet to bully, threaten or intimidate, and the idea of automating it isn’t hypothetical. A number of similar attacks have already occurred in the wild. In May, hackers stole files from a Lithuanian plastic surgery clinic, containing highly personal information about 25,000 former clients: names, addresses and procedures performed, as well as passport scans, national insurance numbers and nude photos of patients. They put the database online through the encrypted network Tor, and asked for payments from individual patients to remove their personal information from the site. Prices started at €50 for those patients who just had names and addresses in the site, but rose to €2,000 for the more invasive information stolen.

CYBER-SECURITY

India team helps IBM create technology to battle hackers

http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/india-team-helps-ibm-create-technology-to-battle-hackers/article19436261.ece  IBM said that it had achieved a breakthrough in security technology that would allow enterprises from banks to health care companies to retailers to encrypt their customer data at a large scale. Its India hardware and firmware team had made significant contributions to the z14 system and microprocessor development. It said that more than 100 engineers from its India labs worked on key components of both the core and the processor in the areas of logic design, verification, custom circuit design and tool development. The team has also contributed to the base firmware development, next-generation input/output enablement and in building newer virtualisation management capabilities.

REnigma malware reverse-engineering tool commercialized

http://www.homelandsecuritynewswire.com/dr20170807-renigma-malware-reverseengineering-tool-commercialized  The analysis of malware used in a cyberattack is a highly manual, time-consuming, low-throughput and costly process, requiring days to weeks to determine the answers needed to understand and recover from an attack. DHS S&T has just announced a groundbreaking malware analysis tool, which is part of S&T’s Transition to Practice (TTP) program, has transitioned as a new startup technology company.  REnigma helps analysts regain the upper hand against advanced malware by transparently and precisely recording the execution of malware. Using the tool, analysts can “go back in time” by replaying and reviewing the malware code in detail exactly as it was originally executed. It also solves a key problem in malware reverse engineering: repeatable analysis.

UK may fine tech companies millions if they can’t protect your data from a breach

http://www.techrepublic.com/article/uk-may-fine-tech-companies-millions-if-they-cant-protect-your-data-from-a-breach/?ftag=TREa988f1c&bhid=27547637924291379434650709219148  Through its newly-proposed Data Protection Bill, the UK government could fine tech companies that mishandle customer data. Outlined in a government press release Monday, the government could fine a company £17 million, or 4% of global turnover, whichever amount is higher. The goal of the bill is to improve user confidence in how their data is maintained, as some 80% of people believe they don’t have full control over their online data, the release said.

5 ways to create a secure firewall

http://www.techrepublic.com/article/5-ways-to-create-a-secure-firewall/?ftag=TREa988f1c&bhid=27547637924291379434650709219148  Firewall management can be a complicated and risky process if not performed carefully. Here are five tips to help you build a successful strategy.

India’s NITI Aayog holds meeting to take stock of bitcoin risk

http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/arvind-panagariya-holds-meeting-to-take-stock-of-bitcoin-risk-117080701155_1.html  Outgoing NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya  held an inter-ministerial meeting to examine risks related to virtual currencies like bitcoins. The government has been debating over the issues concerning bitcoins and in May had sought public opinion on allowing virtual currencies. Earlier in March, the finance ministry had constituted an inter-disciplinary committee to take stock of the present status of virtual currencies both in India and globally and suggest measures for dealing with such currencies. Recently, a domestic app-based bitcoin exchange Zebpay said it has five lakh downloads on the Android operating system and was adding more than 2,500 users every day.

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

Hacking functional fabrics to aid emergency response

http://www.homelandsecuritynewswire.com/dr20170807-hacking-functional-fabrics-to-aid-emergency-response?page=0,1  Hazardous environments such as disaster sites and conflict zones present many challenges for emergency response. But the new field of functional fabrics — materials modified to incorporate various sensors, connect to the internet, or serve multiple purposes, among other things — holds promise for novel solutions. Over the weekend, MIT became a hotbed for developing those solutions. A three-day hackathon on campus brought together students and researchers from MIT and around Boston who developed functional fabric concepts to solve major issues facing soldiers in combat or training, first responders, victims and workers in refugee camps, and many others.

Now, an AI system can monitor your sleep using ambient radio waves

http://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/now-an-ai-system-can-monitor-your-sleep-using-ambient-radio-waves-117080700679_1.html  Scientists have developed a new artificial intelligence system that can monitor a person’s sleep using ambient radio waves, without sensors attached to the body. The device analyses the radio signals around the person and translates those measurements into sleep stages – light, deep, or rapid eye movement (REM). Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Massachusetts General Hospital in the US have devised a new way to monitor sleep stages without sensors attached to the body.

This microbot can capture cells like a tiny Pac-Man, may help probe cancer

http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/new-pac-man-like-microbot-can-capture-transport-single-cells-117080700323_1.html  Scientists have developed a Pac- Man like magnetic microbot that can capture and transport individual living cells, an advance that may help probe the response of cancer cells to drugs. Researchers at North Carolina State University and Duke University in the US have developed a way to assemble and pre-programme tiny structures made from microscopic cubes to change their shape under a magnetic field.

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