Personal Cybersecurity #34: Daily news

What you need to know for your personal cyber security life… 

Number thirty-four in a series of semi-regular daily current and topical computer threats that may affect your online, or even offline, digital and real life. Why cyber-security on SurvivalRing? Because EVERYTHING you do in your life everyday is a part of the cyber world…even your offline plans. So, be aware, and pay attention. The bad guys WILL eventually get around to YOU…personally…so be prepared for it, by staying in the informational loop. 

And, just so you know, I’ve got 31 years of IT experience, and my day job is for the State of Wyoming as an Information Specialist. I believe an informed prepper is a BETTER prepper. Information is the life blood of being prepared. Learn more with every article in this continuing series. Please ask questions if you want to learn more…I’m here to help.

evil inside

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HEADLINES…for this issue…7 articles

  • F.B.I. Informant Is Tied to Cyberattacks Abroad
  • It’s Not Beijing’s Hackers You Should Be Worried About, It’s Moscow’s
  • Bug can cause deadly failures when anesthesia device is connected to cell phones
  • Self-taught hackers rule
  • States: Spike in Tax Fraud Against Doctors
  • Data breach could affect 30,000 Iowa State students
  • GSA Has a New Plan for Cloud Providers Navigating Changing Security Standards

F.B.I. Informant Is Tied to Cyberattacks Abroad

  • By Mark Mazzetti
  • The New York Times
  • April 23, 2014

WASHINGTON — An informant working for the F.B.I. coordinated a 2012 campaign of hundreds of cyberattacks on foreign websites, including some operated by the governments of Iran, Syria, Brazil and Pakistan, according to documents and interviews with people involved in the attacks.

Exploiting a vulnerability in a popular web hosting software, the informant directed at least one hacker to extract vast amounts of data — from bank records to login information — from the government servers of a number of countries and upload it to a server monitored by the F.B.I., according to court statements.

The details of the 2012 episode have, until now, been kept largely a secret in closed sessions of a federal court in New York and heavily redacted documents. While the documents do not indicate whether the F.B.I. directly ordered the attacks, they suggest that the government may have used hackers to gather intelligence overseas even as investigators were trying to dismantle hacking groups like Anonymous and send computer activists away for lengthy prison terms.

The attacks were coordinated by Hector Xavier Monsegur, who used the Internet alias Sabu and became a prominent hacker within Anonymous for a string of attacks on high-profile targets, including PayPal and MasterCard. By early 2012, Mr. Monsegur of New York had been arrested by the F.B.I. and had already spent months working to help the bureau identify other members of Anonymous, according to previously disclosed court papers.


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It’s Not Beijing’s Hackers You Should Be Worried About, It’s Moscow’s

  • By Shane Harris
  • Foreign Policy
  • April 22, 2014

When U.S. officials warn of the threat foreign cyber spies pose to American companies and government agencies, they usually focus on China, which has long been home to the world’s most relentless and aggressive hackers. But new information shows that Russian and Eastern European hackers, who have historically focused their energies on crime and fraud, now account for a large and growing percentage of all cyber espionage, most of which is directed at the United States.

Individuals and groups in eastern Europe, and particularly in Russia and Russian-speaking countries, are responsible for a fifth of all cyber spying incidents in the world, according to a global study of data breaches conducted by Verizon, published on Tuesday. The spies are targeting a range of companies as varied as the global economy itself, and are stealing manufacturing designs, proprietary technology, and confidential business plans. The cyber spies steal information on behalf of their governments in order to manufacture cheaper versions of technologies or weapons systems, or to give their home country’s corporations a leg up on their foreign competitors.

The report is based on information provided by computer security companies as well as the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security. Last year, it attributed nearly all incidences of cyber espionage — 96 percent — to sources in China. Russia and Eastern Europe didn’t even rank in the findings. The United States is by far the biggest victim of cyber espionage, accounting for 54 percent of spying incidences, the report found.

The report’s authors say the increase in spying attributed to Russia and Eastern Europe this year is partly the result of new sources of information that reveal more than was previously known about the long reach and sophistication of hackers in those countries. It’s difficult to know precisely how much cyber espionage by Russia had gone undetected in the past — Russian hackers have gone to great lengths to cover their tracks, unlike their counterparts in China, who have generally been easier to detect, said Alan Paller, the a cyber security expert at the SANS Institute.


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Bug can cause deadly failures when anesthesia device is connected to cell phones

  • By Dan Goodin
  • Ars Technica
  • April 22, 2014

Federal safety officials have issued an urgent warning about software defects in an anesthesia delivery system that can cause life-threatening failures at unexpected times, including when a cellphone or other device is plugged into one of its USB ports.

The ARKON anesthesia delivery system is used in hospitals to deliver oxygen, anesthetic vapor, and nitrous oxide to patients during surgical procedures. It is manufactured by UK-based Spacelabs Healthcare Ltd., which issued a recall in March. A bug in Version 2.0 of the software running on the device is so serious that it could cause severe injury or death, the US Food and Drug Administration warned last week in what’s known as a Class I recall. In part, the FDA advisory read:

  Reason for Recall: Spacelabs Healthcare is recalling the ARKON
  Anesthesia System with Version 2.0 Software due to a software defect.
  This software issue may cause the System to stop working and require
  manual ventilation of patients. In addition, if a cell phone or other
  USB device is plugged into one of the four USB ports for charging, this
  may also cause the System to stop working.

  This defect may cause serious adverse health consequences, including
  hypoxemia and death. Spacelabs Healthcare received one report related to
  the software defect. There has been no injuries or deaths associated
  with this malfunction.


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Self-taught hackers rule

  • By Taylor Armerding
  • CSO Online
  • April 23, 2014

Ilio Kolochenko, CEO of High-Tech Bridge, a Swiss information security company, gave the keynote address on governments’ role in cybersecurity this past Sunday at the Regional cybersecurity Summit in Oman.

Before his speech, he talked with CSO about why self-taught hackers are generally superior to those who go through a formal certification program, and why compliance with cybersecurity standards will remain low unless governments make it very painful to ignore it.

A recent story in The Independent said the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), through approval of certain Master’s programs, had created, “the first certified degrees for spies.” Is it accurate to call a degree in cybersecurity a degree in spying?

I’d say not. Obviously some governments’ activities may be reasonably called “spying”, but we should not forget that national security experts are required to use intrusive techniques to protect the nation’s interests.


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States: Spike in Tax Fraud Against Doctors

  • By Brian Krebs
  • Krebs on Security
  • April 22, 2014

An unusual number of physicians in several U.S. states are just finding out that they’ve been victimized by tax return fraud this year, KrebsOnSecurity has learned. An apparent spike in tax fraud cases against medical professionals is fueling speculation that the crimes may have been prompted by a data breach at some type of national organization that certifies or provides credentials for physicians.

Scott Colby, executive vice president of the New Hampshire Medical Society, said he started hearing from physicians in his state about a week ago, when doctors who were just filing their tax returns began receiving notices from the Internal Revenue Service that someone had already filed their taxes and claimed a large refund.

So far, Colby has heard from 111 doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners in New Hampshire who have been victims of tax fraud this year.

“I’ve been here four years and this is the first time this issue has come across my desk,” Colby said.


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Data breach could affect 30,000 Iowa State students

  • By Sharyn Jackson
  • Des Moines Register
  • April 22, 2014

Servers containing the social security numbers of almost 30,000 Iowa State University students were compromised in a security breach, university officials announced Tuesday.

Information technology staff discovered a breach of five departmental servers that contained social security and university ID numbers for students who took classes in computer science, world languages and cultures and materials science and engineering.

The students whose information was contained on these servers were enrolled between 1995 and 2012. In addition to the 29,780 social security numbers exposed in the breach, an additional 18,949 students’ university IDs were on the servers. There was no financial information in the exposed records.

A hacker or hackers accessed the servers in order to generate enough computing power to create bitcoins, a digital currency, according to a news release from the university.


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GSA Has a New Plan for Cloud Providers Navigating Changing Security Standards

  • By Frank Konkel
  • April 22, 2014

The General Services Administration released a transition plan on Tuesday that provides guidance to cloud computing service providers that will have to adhere to new baseline security standards slated for release in June.

The transition plan will govern how CSPs adhere to upcoming changes to the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, or FedRAMP, based on the fourth revision of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Special Publication 800-53.

The plan provides specific guidance to CSPs at varying stages.

CSPs in the early “initiation” phase will have to implement new baseline standards and test SP 800-53 Rev. 4 controls before receiving authorization. Those in the FedRAMP pipeline before June 1 will be assessed against current FedRAMP baseline standards – based on NIST’s SP 800-53 Rev. 3 – but will have one year from the authorization date to implement the new baseline, submit new documents using updated templates and test their controls against new Rev. 4 controls.

Similarly, CSPs with FedRAMP-accredited solutions with an annual continuous monitoring assessment completed prior to June 1 will have “one year from the date of their last assessment” to implement the new baseline and complete testing. CSPs with an annual assessment scheduled between June 1, 2014 and Jan. 1, 2015, must implement the new baseline and complete testing in 2015.


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Updated: April 26, 2014 — 1:24 am

The Author

Rich Fleetwood

Rich is the founder of SurvivalRing, now in it's 24th year, author of multimedia CDs and DVDs, loves the outdoors, his family, his geeky skill-set, and lives in rural southern Wyoming, just below the continental divide (long story, that...). Always ready to help others, he shares what he learns on multiple blogs, many social sites, and more. With a background in preparedness and survival skills, training with county, state, and national organizations, and skills in all areas of media and on air experience in live radio and television, Rich is always thinking about the "big picture", when it comes to helping individuals and families prepare for life's little surprises.

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