Top Security News
The term “insider threats” often refers to individuals who use their knowledge of or access to an organization and its systems to perpetrate fraud, sabotage, theft, or a violent act. These individuals can be current or former employees, contractors, or employees of third-party service providers. Insider threats also can include individuals who do not intend to do harm, but whose actions compromise the safety or security of their organizations. For example, new employees might neglect to properly encrypt email containing sensitive data, leaving those messages vulnerable to certain kinds of cyberattacks. Other employees might be aware of company policies, but are complacent or lackadaisical about them. When organizations include “innocent” individuals in the definition of insider threat, the risk becomes considerably larger and more complicated to manage. Deloitte Consulting director Michael Gelles and specialist leader Robert McFadden suggest data points organizations could collect to proactively detect individuals who may pose a potential insider threat. The researchers also identify statistics that highlight the widespread scope of malicious and accidental insider incidents and the ability of stronger mitigation programs and detection tools to prevent these risks.
The majority of companies utilizing big data security analytics are reporting a high business benefit, according to a recent survey from the Business Application Research Center (BARC). The report found that 53 percent of organizations find big data security analysis to have a high business benefit, according to BARC founder and managing director Carsten Bange. Only 6 percent of survey respondents said the benefit of such a program was low. Adoption across the board is still relatively low, but over two-thirds of the more advanced companies questioned for the survey are beginning to integrate advanced big data security technologies, such as user behavior analytics, the survey revealed. However, “of the 87% who did not consider themselves to be in the more advanced group, only 27% have deployed user behaviour analytics,” said Bange. According to Bange, technologies such as user behavior analytics can help improve an organization’s cybersecurity resilience by tracking user behavior across all IT systems to determine whether there are notable deviations from normal behavior to warn of potential malicious activity. Bange continued on to say that big data security analytics is a useful tool to add to an organization’s arsenal of defense measures, and is to be used in conjunction with other intrusion detection technologies. Smaller companies can also benefit from such approaches to understand what is happening in their IT environments in real time.
Security of Critical Phone Database Called Into Question
From “Security of Critical Phone Database Called Into Question”
Washington Post (04/28/16) Nakashima, Ellen
Federal officials believe that the Swedish firm Telcordia may have jeopardized national security by violating federal requirements during the building of a sensitive phone number database. The database tracks nearly every phone in North America and its security is in question because Telcordia allowed a non-U.S. citizen to work on the project. Now, the company is in the throes of assuaging concerns that foreign officials had access to the massive project. Many believe that if other countries were to gain access to the code, they could hit the counterintelligence jackpot. The worker who violated the U.S.-workers-only policy is Chinese, stoking further fears about China’s role in spying, particularly after its alleged role in the breach at the Office of Personnel Management. FBI spokesman Christopher Allen confirmed that the FBI is working “closely with the FCC to help identify and mitigate national security and law enforcement risks.” Telcordia is now in the midst of rewriting the database computer code, a massive undertaking that began in March.
Federal agencies need to improve interagency collaboration efforts on school emergency preparedness, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). While efforts have increased significantly, in response to the recent series of school shootings, there are still “inefficiencies and security gaps in emergency preparedness plans at schools across [the] nation,” said Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul. “We must work together to support state and local efforts to prevent, protect, mitigate, respond to, and recover from a potential emergency. The better coordinated security planning efforts are, the better protected our children will be,” he said. The GAO report details the need for federal agencies to improve the strategic coordination of the resources designated for support of school emergencies. GAO came to find that the lack of a coordinated federal strategy for such incidents has the potential to waste federal resources on possibly duplicative, overlapping, or fragmented efforts. A number of surveyed school districts were, for example, unaware of financial and technical resources provided by federal agencies to state and local authorities to help them better respond to emergencies. GAO has recommended that the U.S. Department of Education convene its federal interagency partners to develop a strategic approach to interagency partnership on school emergency preparedness.
The Pentagon’s bug bounty program is halfway done and reports indicate the initiative has been a success thus far. More than 500 security researchers and hackers have submitted background checks and taken part in the search for security flaws in the “Hack the Pentagon” pilot, the first federal government program to use a private-sector crowdsourcing service to search for system vulnerabilities. The program will continue for another two weeks, and it is likely to be the start of many similar programs in the future. U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter characterized the initiative as a way for the government to take new approaches to blunt the attacks targeted at the agency’s networks. “I am always challenging our people to think outside the five-sided box that is the Pentagon,” he said. “Inviting responsible hackers to test our cyber-security certainly meets that test.” The $150,000 initiative is also a step forward to the current administration’s Cyber National Action Plan, which calls for the government to put a priority on immediate actions that bolster network defenses.
Michigan state senators Mike Kowall and Ken Horn have sponsored a bill that will make it a felony to “intentionally access or cause access to be made to an electronic system of a motor vehicle to willfully destroy, damage, impair, alter or gain unauthorized control of the motor vehicle.” If the legislation is passed, hacking a connected car could warrant up to a life sentence in prison. Similar legislation had previously been proposed at the federal level.
Indiana’s New Cybersecurity Council Will Beef Up State’s Cyber Infrastructure
From “Indiana’s New Cybersecurity Council Will Beef Up State’s Cyber Infrastructure”
Government Technology (04/20/16) Wood, Colin
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence last week announced the formation of the Indiana Executive Council on Cybersecurity (Cybersecurity Council), a 23-member partnership between public and private organizations throughout the state designed to cooperate across institutional boundaries and follow the dictates of a cybersecurity strategic framework document. John Hill, the governor’s chief of staff for public safety, will lead the effort as state cybersecurity coordinator, while David Kane, executive director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, will chair the council. The council will be comprised of subject-matter experts from diverse disciplines, says the Indiana Department of Homeland Security’s John Erickson. He says the privacy sector was “very interested in partnership of this type and we took a look comprehensively at areas that had exposure, such as the financial sector, healthcare, [transportation, education, research, transportation, and] software developers, and moved forward accordingly.” The Cybersecurity Council will serve as an extension of the 2015 Indiana Sharing and Analysis Center, a partnership that includes the Indiana Office of Technology, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, the Indiana National Guard, the Indiana State Police, Purdue University, Indiana University, the Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center, and Intel Security. The organizations will work with the Cybersecurity Council to harden the state’s cybersecurity posture, run exercises, and generate new economic opportunities for the state’s economy.
An American serviceman has been killed in combat in Iraq near the city of Irbil, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Tuesday. The U.S.-led coalition issued a statement saying one of its service members died in northern Iraq as “a result of enemy fire.” A U.S. military official, speaking on condition on anonymity, said that the service member was on an advise-and-assist mission with Kurdish Peshmerga forces when enemy fighters penetrated. It is the third U.S. combat death in Iraq in the past seven months. Last month, Carter announced the U.S. would be sending 217 more troops — including special operations forces — to Iraq.
U.S. Troops Are Getting Closer to the Fight Against the Islamic State in Iraq
From “U.S. Troops Are Getting Closer to the Fight Against the Islamic State in Iraq”
Washington Post (05/03/16) Morris, Loveday
Within 10 miles of the front lines in the push toward the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the U.S. outpost, known as Firebase Bell, is manned by nearly 200 Marines. The new firebase is part of a creeping U.S. buildup in Iraq since troops first re-entered the country with a contingent of 275 advisers, which the Pentagon described as a move to help get “eyes on the ground.” Now, nearly two years later, the official troop count has increased to 4,087, excluding those on temporary rotations. The troops are maneuvering outside the confines of more established bases to give closer support to the Iraqi army as it prepares for an assault on Mosul. The battle will require coordination from various parties, including the U.S., the Kurdish regional government in the north, and Iraq’s counterterrorism forces. The shift to give Iraqis closer support comes at a time of political turmoil in Baghdad, which is threatening the legitimacy of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the key partner for the U.S. Iraqi commanders have expressed concerns that the crisis could complicate and slow progress on the battlefield.
A radioactive hot spot located in Missouri’s St. Louis County contains contamination levels hundreds of times above federal safety guidelines. However, there are no plans to clean it up because the federal government has deemed the area effectively inaccessible and not a threat. The site, which runs along and underneath a railroad track, is far away from any populated areas and the contamination is covered and anchored in place, according to Bruce Munholand of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A group of private researchers, however, is challenging those assurances. According to the group, a sampling they did suggests that contamination is entering a nearby stream and then traveling downstream into the yards of homes. If such a migration is occurring, the hot spot needs to be cleaned up “or it will never stop transporting” the contamination, said one of the private researchers, Marco Kaltofen, who is a research engineer affiliated with Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. The Corps, which is working toward removing weapons related waste at dozens of sites in the area, has found radioactive contamination in the yards of several homes along the creek, but agency officials state that the contamination was carried by the creek from different sites. The Corps said it has cleaned up those other sites.