A January 2014 bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center on distributed denial-of-service attacks and mitigation methods.
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.
A joint bulletin issued in early August by the Department of Homeland Security and FBI warns state and local law enforcement agencies to look out for people in possession of “large amounts” of weapons and ammunition, describing the discovery of “unusual amounts” of weapons as a potential indicator of criminal or terrorist activity.
Possession of large amounts of weapons, ammunition, explosives, accelerants, or explosive precursor chemicals could indicate pre-operational terrorist attack planning or criminal activity. For example, in preparation for conducting the July 2011 attacks in Norway, Anders Behring Breivik stockpiled approximately 12,000 pounds of precursors, weapons, and armor and hid them underground in remote, wooded locations.
Over the past year, the NSI PMO has continued its implementation efforts and outreach to NSI stakeholders to help ensure that law enforcement and homeland security partners are afforded another tool to help identify and prevent terrorism and other related criminal activity. The ongoing collaboration among DOJ, DHS, the FBI, SLTT partners, and the National Network of Fusion Centers has strengthened, allowing the NSI to expand its nationwide information sharing capability. As of March 2013, 73 fusion centers have met the requirements outlined by the NSI PMO to be fully NSI-Operational—an increase of 5 centers from the same time last year—and all 78 fusion centers now maintain the capability to contribute and share suspicious activity reports through the Shared Space or eGuardian. This expansion of the NSI has allowed the Federated Search Tool to be accessed by more trained users—increasing the number of searches to more than 76,400—and more than 25,900 Information Sharing Environment (ISE)-SARs had been submitted and shared by the end of March 2013. Further, with the support of the National Network of Fusion Centers, 46 states and the District of Columbia are participating in statewide implementation of the NSI; implementation efforts are currently under way in Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to ensure a strengthened nationwide capacity for sharing ISE-SAR information.
This Joint Intelligence Bulletin (JIB) provides information on the 21 September 2013 attack in Nairobi, Kenya likely conducted by al-Shabaab—an al-Qai‘da linked militant group based in Somalia. This JIB examines the ongoing incident and provides background on the threat from al-Shabaab. This JIB also highlights protective measures that can assist in mitigating threats in the United States using similar tactics and is provided to support the activities of FBI and DHS and to assist federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government counterterrorism and law enforcement officials, as well as first responders and private sector security officials to deter, prevent, preempt, or respond to terrorist attacks in the United States or overseas targeting US interests.
Terrorists may engage in sabotage, tampering, or vandalism as part of an attack or to gain access to restricted areas, steal materials, or provoke and observe security responses. For example, the 1Oth edition of al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula’s Inspire magazine suggests torching parked vehicles and causing automobile accidents by using lubricating oil or nails driven through wooden boards as simple tactics to cause both casualties and economic damage.
Impersonation by assuming the identity, behavior, or appearance of first responders can allow terrorists access to restricted or secure locations, including the scene of emergencies when unchallenged. This access can allow terrorists the ability to conduct pre-operational surveillance or carry out a primary attack or a secondary attack against first responders. The method of impersonation may not be limited to the use of uniforms, clothing, badges and identification; civilian vehicles may be accessorized to appear as legitimate emergency vehicles.
DHS and its operational components have recognized the value of using social media to gain situational awareness and support mission operations, including law enforcement and intelligence-gathering efforts. However, additional oversight and guidance are needed to ensure that employees use technologies appropriately. In addition, improvements are needed for centralized oversight to ensure that leadership is aware of how social media are being used and for better coordination to share best practices. Until improvements are made, the Department is hindered in its ability to assess all the benefits and risks of using social media to support mission operations.
Android is the world’s most widely used mobile operating system (OS) and continues to be a primary target for malware attacks due to its market share and open source architecture. Industry reporting indicates 44 percent of Android users are still using versions 2.3.3 through 2.3.7-known as Gingerbread-which were released in 2011 and have a number of security vulnerabilities that were fixed in later versions. The growing use of mobile devices by federal, state, and local authorities makes it more important than ever to keep mobile OS patched and up-to-date.
(U//FOUO) FBI Cyber Division Bulletin: Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) Actors Targeting Aviation Industry
Since June 2013, the FBI has observed advanced persistent threat (APT) actors’ increased interest in the aviation industry. APT actors have sent spear-phishing e-mails targeting individuals associated with the air travel industry. Some of the spear-phishing e-mails originated from a spoofed sender in an attempt to make the e-mail appear more legitimate. E-mail recipients should be aware of suspicious and potentially malicious e-mail attachments or links.