The following is an advisory for owners, managers and stakeholders in the hospitality industry, which highlights recent data breaches uncovered by the United States Secret Service (USSS). The attacks were not sophisticated, requiring little technical skill, and did not involve the exploit of vulnerabilities in browsers, operating systems or other software. The malicious actors were able to utilize a low-cost, high impact strategy to access a physical system, stealing sensitive data from hotels and subsequently their guest’s information. The NCCIC and the USSS have provided some recommendations at the end of this document that may help prevent similar attacks on publicly available computers.
An intelligence assessment released July 22 by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis warns of an increasing trend of “anti-government violence” from what are described as “domestic violent extremists” inspired by the recent standoff at the Bundy Ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada. The report, titled “Domestic Violent Extremists Pose Increased Threat to Government Officials an Law Enforcement,” was originally obtained and published by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a non-profit alliance of local state and federal resource professionals that has been advocating for criminal charges against Cliven Bundy and “militia snipers” involved in the April standoff with the Bureau of Land Management. In recent months, the report suggests that there has been a notable increase in violence from domestic extremists motivated by “anti-government ideologies.”
(U//LES) DHS Assessment: Domestic Violent Extremists Pose Increased Threat to Law Enforcement and Government Officials
After years of only sporadic violence from violent domestic extremists motivated by anti-government ideologies, I&A has seen a spike within the past year in violence committed by militia extremists and lone offenders who hold violent anti-government beliefs. These groups and individuals recognize government authority but facilitate or engage in acts of violence due to their perception that the United States Government is tyrannical and oppressive, coupled to their belief that the government needs to be violently resisted or overthrown. Historically, spikes in violence have followed high-profile confrontations involving the United States Government, such as Ruby Ridge and Waco. The April 20 14 Bunkerville, Nevada standoff likely represents a similar event that could inspire further violence.
The Department of Homeland Security Office of Cyber and Infrastructure Analysis (DHS/OCIA) Homeland Infrastructure Threat and Risk Analysis Center (HITRAC) produces Sector Resilience Reports to improve partner understanding of the interdependencies and resilience of certain sectors. Specifically, this report provides a brief overview of the electric power system, and analysis of key electric power system dependencies and interdependencies. Additionally, this product includes an assessment of, and best practices for, improving community, system, and facility resilience. This Sector Resilience Report was produced to complement other sector-specific guidance, analysis, and scholarly papers on infrastructure resilience by applying data obtained from DHS site visits and assessments analyzing the resilience of critical infrastructure assets and systems.
(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI-NCTC Bulletin: Medical Treatment Presents Opportunity for Discovery of Violent Extremist Activities
Efforts to gain expertise with explosive, incendiary, and chemical/biological devices may lead to injuries and emergency treatment, which may provide potential indicators of violent extremist activities to responding emergency medical service (EMS) personnel. Scene size-up and patient assessment provide first responders the opportunity to view both the scene and any patient injuries. EMS personnel and other first responders should consider the totality of information gleaned through direct observation and the statements of patients, witnesses, and bystanders to evaluate whether an injury is a genuine accident or related to violent extremist activity.
We analyzed these locations to determine the factors pushing child migration to the US Border. We assess these reasons vary regionally. For example, many Guatemalan children come from rural areas, indicating they are probably seeking economic opportunities in the US. Salvadoran and Honduran children, on the other hand, come from extremely violent regions where they probably perceive the risk of traveling alone to the US preferable to remaining at home. This violence, combined with poor economies and other secondary factors will make stemming the flow of UACs to the US a very complex issue to address.
Terrorists in late December 2013 conducted three attacks targeting people using public transportation systems in Russia, emphasizing terrorists’ persistent interest in attacking locations where large congregations of people are confined to small, often enclosed spaces. Russian officials claim North Caucasus-based violent extremists associated with the Imirat Kavkaz (IK) probably conducted these attacks to embarrass the Russian government in the build-up to the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. The IK, a violent extremist group based in Russia, has no known capability in the Homeland and is unlikely to directly target Western interests overseas.
Walter Bond’s path to animal rights extremism was driven by witnessing what he perceived as animal abuse and by frustration stemming from his perception that lawful, nonviolent actions appeared to have little impact on advancing the goals of the animal rights movement.* Prior to becoming violent to advance animal rights, Bond showed a tendency to use violence to advance other beliefs, such as protesting illicit drug sales by committing arson against a drug trafficker’s home and protesting against religion by burning a pentagram symbol inside a church.
Security researchers from Google Security recently discovered a vulnerability with the Heartbeat extension (RFC6520) to OpenSSL’s Transport Layer Security (TLS) and the Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS) protocols. According to open source reports, the vulnerability has existed within certain OpenSSL frameworks since at least 2012. The Heartbeat extension is functionally a “keep-alive” between end-users and the secure server. It works by sending periodic “data pulses” of 64KB in size to the secure server and once the server receives that data; it reciprocates by re-sending the same data at the same size. The out-of-bounds “read” vulnerability exists because the Heartbeat extension in OpenSSL versions 1.0.1 through and 1.0.2-beta (including 1.0.1f and 1.0.2-beta1) do not properly validate the data being sent from the end-user. As a result, a malicious actor could send a specially-crafted heartbeat request to the vulnerable server and obtain sensitive information stored in memory on the server. Furthermore, even though each heartbeat only allows requests to have a data size limited to 64KB segments, it is possible to send repeated requests to retrieve more 64KB segments, which could include encryption keys used for certificates, passwords, usernames, and even sensitive content that were stored at the time. An attacker could harvest enough data from the 64KB segments to piece together larger groupings of information which could help an attacker develop a broader understanding of the information being acquired.
Law enforcement continues to see reporting of malicious cyber actors using fake help desk scams, also known as technical support scams. These scams, if successful, seek to compromise and take control of computer systems. Malicious cyber actors send users an e-mail or they make cold calls, purportedly representing a help desk from a legitimate software or hardware vendor. The malicious cyber actors try to trick users into believing that their computer is malfunctioning—often by having them look at a system log that typically shows scores of harmless or low-level errors—then convincing them to download software or let the “technician” remotely access the personal computer to “repair” it.
The higher education community in the United States consists of more than 11,000 higher education institutions that collectively serve more than 17 million students, employ more than 3.4 million faculty and staff, and have combined budgets approaching $360 billion. Higher education institutions range in size from small institutions with fewer than 100 students to large universities with tens of thousands of students and faculty occupying campuses the size of a small town or city. Institution grounds are generally open-access, with varying levels of security within the campus.
Facility security measures, such as interior control points or exterior barriers, may require first responders to adjust normal protocols and procedures to operate rapidly during emergencies. The timeline below is an overview of attacks and plots against US-based facilities with varying levels of security. The diversity of tactics and targets used underscores the need for interagency exercises and training that incorporates multiple scenarios to account for building security measures likely to be encountered.
Since at least January 2012, criminals are using telephony-based denial-of-service (TDoS) combined with extortion scams to phone an employee’s office and demand the employee repay an alleged loan. If the victim does not comply, the criminals initiate TDoS attacks against the employer’s phone numbers. TDoS uses automated calling programs—similar to those used by telemarketers—to prevent victims from making or receiving calls.
In the first weeks of 2013, police officers were combing through a bloody scene in the Indian state of Jharkhand where a dozen security personnel had died in a shootout with local rebels. The Naxalite fighters, who promote a Maoist ideology through their ongoing guerrilla conflict with the Indian government, had killed the men, including five Central Reserve Police Force members, in a gun battle days before. When local villagers and police tried to remove the bodies, a bomb went off killing four more people. After the incident, a group of doctors in nearby Ranchi were performing an autopsy on one of the bodies when they encountered something metal lodged inside the body. A bomb squad was called in and an explosive device triggered by shifts in pressure that had been sewn into the police officer’s body was successfully defused.
(U//FOUO) DHS Bulletin: Self-identified Anarchist Extremists Target Urban Gentrification Sites with Arson
This Note analyzes the recent use of arson by anarchist extremists targeting urban development sites they describe as negatively impacting lower income residents through “gentrification.” This information is provided to enable federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement; first responders; and private sector security officials to identify, preempt, prevent, or respond to intentional acts targeting urban development sites by anarchist extremist campaigns.
Superstorm Sandy, a late-season post-tropical cyclone and the tenth storm of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, swept through the Caribbean and up the East Coast of the United States in late October 2012. The storm left 42 dead in New York State (NYS), thousands homeless and millions without power. Superstorm Sandy began as a tropical wave in the Caribbean on October 19, 2012. It quickly developed into a tropical depression and then a tropical storm in six hours. It quickly moved north, then turned northwest within the next week, making landfall on October 29, 2012 striking near Atlantic City, New Jersey with winds of 80 miles per hour. At one point, Superstorm Sandy’s hurricane force winds (74 mph) extended up to 175 miles from its center and tropical storm force winds (39 mph) out to 485 miles. A full moon made high tides 20 percent higher than normal, amplifying Superstorm Sandy’s storm surge.
DHS National Incident Management System: Intelligence/Investigations Function Guidance and Field Operations Guide
This document includes guidance on how various disciplines can use and integrate the I/I Function while adhering to NIMS concepts and principles. It includes information intended for the NIMS practitioner (including the Incident Commander/Unified Command [IC/UC]) that assists in the placement of the I/I Function within the command structure; provides guidance that may be used while implementing the I/I Function; and has an accompanying Intelligence/ Investigations Function Field Operations Guide (I/I FFOG). While this document provides an example of the I/I Function at the Section level, the IC/UC has the final determination of the scope and placement of the I/I Function within the command structure. The guidance provided in this document is applicable for both domestic incidents that use conventional unclassified information (e.g., open source information, criminal histories, medical records, or educational records) and terrorism incidents where information is often classified and requires the use of national intelligence capabilities.
This Note describes a new combination of tactics by cyber criminals that disrupts telephone systems of targeted organizations. This information is provided to assist and inform the Department and federal, state, local, territorial, tribal, and private sector partners in mitigation efforts regarding criminal activity that could affect their operations.
(U//FOUO) DHS National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) Capabilities Guide
The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) Resource and Capabilities Guide is intended to enhance cross-sector cyber security efforts and collaboration by better informing our cybersecurity and communications partners of the NCCIC’s tools, assets, and collaboration mechanisms offered. This guide also identifies the Center’s resources and capabilities as well as describes the processes for accessing NCCIC information portals and products, incident reporting systems, and relevant point of contact information for our community of partners.
As related to malware which may exhibit a potentially destructive capability, organizations should increase vigilance and evaluate their capabilities encompassing planning, preparation, detection, and response for such an event. Destructive malware presents a direct threat to an organization’s daily operations, directly impacting the availability of critical assets and data. In addition, the response required for such an event can be extremely resource intensive.
The following product is a coordinated effort between NCCIC, U.S. Secret Service and The Cyber Intelligence Network (CIN), provided to assist in prevention, detection and mitigation of a new ransomeware campaign. Ransomware is malware that restricts access to infected computers and requires victims to pay a ransom in order to regain full access. Cryptolocker is particularly interesting in that it functions by encrypting victims computer files with a combination of RSA-2048 and AES-256 encryption. Once encrypted, victims are provided a window of time in which they can pay the actors to receive the key needed to decrypt their files.
Malicious cyber actors have used compromised social media accounts to spread disinformation about alleged emergencies and attacks, most prominently through Twitter. Because it is difficult to determine the authenticity of a tweet, we anticipate malicious cyber actors will continue to seek to exploit Twitter and other social media platforms used by news organizations and public safety agencies to propagate disinformation.