Tag Archive for Cybersecurity

National Counterintelligence and Security Center Report: Foreign Economic Espionage in Cyberspace

In the 2011 report to Congress on Foreign Spies Stealing U.S. Economic Secrets in Cyberspace, the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive provided a baseline assessment of the many dangers facing the U.S. research, development, and manufacturing sectors when operating in cyberspace, the pervasive threats posed by foreign intelligence services and other threat actors, and the industries and technologies most likely at risk of espionage. The 2018 report provides additional insight into the most pervasive nation-state threats, and it includes a detailed breakout of the industrial sectors and technologies judged to be of highest interest to threat actors. It also discusses several potentially disruptive threat trends that warrant close attention.

FBI Cyber Bulletin: Identified Qakbot Malware Variant Found on Thumb Drive Manufactured in China

In March 2018, an identified financial services corporation received a thumb drive infected with the bank credential-stealing Qakbot malware variant, targeting information from networked computers and financial institution web sites. The financial services corporation purchased bulk thumb drives from a US online retailer of computer hardware. The thumb drives were originally manufactured in China. According to FBI forensic analysis, the Qakbot malware was on the infected thumb drive before the drive arrived in the United States. Qakbot is extremely persistent and requires removal of all malware from every device. Failure to remove even one node of malware may result in re-infecting previously sanitized systems possibly costing the victim hundreds of thousands of dollars in malware removal and system downtime.

Department of Energy Assessment of Electricity Disruption Incident Response Capabilities

Electricity is critical to every aspect of modern life. The United States’ national security, economy, and public health and safety rely on the North American electric grid every second of the day. These, and many other functions powered by the grid have likely experienced local outages caused by weather, accidents, or sometimes from tree branches falling on power lines. Larger power outages, however, are infrequent occurrences, due in part to an array of organizations that work tirelessly to ensure the grid remains reliable, resilient, and secure. Nonetheless, it is neither practical nor possible to prevent all disruptive events. Grid owners and operators balance risk, investment, and cost to customers when making investments in their systems.

(U//FOUO) DHS Intelligence Note: Unidentified Cyber Actor Attacks State and Local Government Networks with GrandCrab Ransomware

An unidentified cyber actor in mid-March 2018 used GrandCrab Version 2 ransomware to attack a State of Connecticut municipality network and a state judicial branch network, according to DHS reporting derived from a state law enforcement official with direct and indirect access. The municipality did not pay the ransom, resulting in the encryption of multiple servers that affected some data backups and the loss of tax payment information and assessor data. The attack against the state judicial branch resulted in the infection of numerous computers, but minimal content encryption, according to the same DHS report.

Joint Publication 3-12 Cyberspace Operations

Cyberspace operations (CO) is the employment of cyberspace capabilities where the primary purpose is to achieve objectives in or through cyberspace. This publication focuses on military operations in and through cyberspace; explains the relationships and responsibilities of the Joint Staff (JS), combatant commands (CCMDs), United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM), the Service cyberspace component (SCC) commands, and combat support agencies; and establishes a framework for the employment of cyberspace forces and capabilities.

FBI Report: E-mail Account Compromise Techniques Used to Steal Millions in Real Estate Settlement Funds

The Office of Private Sector, in coordination with the Criminal Investigative Division, is providing this LIR to inform private sector partners about the increasing use of e-mail account compromise (EAC) techniques in the US real estate settlement industry. Consumer borrowers, settlement/title companies, real estate agents, real estate attorneys, builders, and others are being targeted by criminal actors netting millions in illicit proceeds. These proceeds are often directed initially to US banks then re-directed via money service businesses and international accounts to Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, China, Ghana, Turkey, and India. The increased use of EAC techniques, as well as, the evolving expansion into previously unidentified countries indicates this fraud scheme is not slowing and puts additional strain on industry participants to be vigilant with their e-mail communications and identity verification processes.

Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity Strategy 2018

The American people are increasingly dependent upon the Internet for daily conveniences, critical services, and economic prosperity. Substantial growth in Internet access and networked devices has facilitated widespread opportunities and innovation. This extraordinary level of connectivity, however, has also introduced progressively greater cyber risks for the United States. Long-standing threats are evolving as nation-states, terrorists, individual criminals, transnational criminal organizations, and other malicious actors move their activities into the digital world. Enabling the delivery of essential services—such as electricity, finance, transportation, water, and health care—through cyberspace also introduces new vulnerabilities and opens the door to potentially catastrophic consequences from cyber incidents. The growing number of Internet-connected devices and reliance on global supply chains further complicates the national and international risk picture.

(U//FOUO) DHS Final Decision on Removal of Kaspersky-Branded Products

BOD 17-01 requires all federal executive branch departments and agencies to (1) identify the use or presence of “Kaspersky-branded products” on all federal information systems within 30 days of BOD issuance (i.e., by October 13); (2) develop and provide to DHS a detailed plan of action to remove and discontinue present and future use of all Kaspersky-branded products within 60 days of BOD issuance (i.e., by November 12); and (3) begin to implement the plan of action at 90 days after BOD issuance (i.e., December 12), unless directed otherwise by DHS in light of new information obtained by DHS, including but not limited to new information submitted by Kaspersky.

(U//FOUO) DHS NCCIC Independent Assessment of Kaspersky-Branded Products

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) reviewed the Independent Assessment, titled Information Security Risks of Anti-Virus Software (hereafter “BRG Assessment”), prepared by Berkeley Research Group, LLC (BRG), and dated November 10, 2017. Kaspersky Lab (hereafter “Kaspersky”) submitted the BRG Assessment to DHS as an exhibit to Kaspersky’s request for DHS to initiate a review of Binding Operational Directive (BOD) 17-01. The BRG Assessment, in part, responds to the NCCIC Information Security Risk Assessment (hereafter “NCCIC Assessment”) on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) anti-virus software and Kaspersky-branded products, dated August 29, 2017. The NCCIC Assessment was attached as Exhibit 1 to an Information Memorandum from the Assistant Secreta1Y for DHS Cybersecurity and Communications (CS&C) to the Acting Secretary of DHS, dated September 1, 2017 (hereafter “Information Memorandum”). This document is a Supplemental Information Security Risk Assessment and will similarly be attached to an Information Memorandum from the Assistant Secretary for CS&C to the Acting Secretary of DHS.

(U//FOUO) DHS NCCIC Information Security Risk Assessment of Kaspersky-Branded Products

This assessment presents the inherent information security concerns and security ramifications associated with the use of any commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) antivirus solution in devices with access to a federal network. It also addresses specific risks presented by Kaspersky-branded products, solutions, and services (collectively, “Kaspersky-branded products”).

Council of Economic Advisers Report: The Cost of Malicious Cyber Activity to the U.S. Economy

This report examines the substantial economic costs that malicious cyber activity imposes on the U.S. economy. Cyber threats are ever-evolving and may come from sophisticated adversaries. Due to common vulnerabilities, instances of security breaches occur across firms and in patterns that are difficult to anticipate. Importantly, cyberattacks and cyber theft impose externalities that may lead to rational underinvestment in cybersecurity by the private sector relative to the socially optimal level of investment. Firms in critical infrastructure sectors may generate especially large negative spillover effects to the wider economy. Insufficient data may impair cybersecurity efforts. Successful protection against cyber threats requires cooperation across firms and between private and public sectors.

FBI Cyber Division Bulletin: Cyber Criminal Group Threatens Schools and Students

Since April 2016, a loosely affiliated group of highly trained hackers calling themselves TheDarkOverlord (TDO) have conducted various extortion schemes with a recent focus on the public school system. TDO used remote access tools to breach school district networks and then proceeded to steal sensitive data. To extort money from its victims, including students, TDO threatened violence or the release of stolen sensitive data.

Vulnerabilities Equities Policy and Process for the United States Government

This document describes the Vulnerabilities Equities Policy and Process for departments and agencies of the United States Government (USG) to balance equities and make determinations regarding disclosure or restriction when the USG obtains knowledge of newly discovered and not publicly known vulnerabilities in information systems and technologies. The primary focus of this policy is to prioritize the public’s interest in cybersecurity and to protect core Internet infrastructure, information systems, critical infrastructure systems, and the U.S. economy through the disclosure of vulnerabilities discovered by the USG, absent a demonstrable, overriding interest in the use of the vulnerability for lawful intelligence, law enforcement, or national security purposes.

Understanding Digital Footprints and Protecting Personal Information: A Guide for Law Enforcement

Personal information is increasingly distributed online by the media, the public, law enforcement agencies, and even law enforcement personnel themselves. It is imperative that law enforcement personnel understand the importance and consequences of their online activities and be proactive in monitoring and limiting their digital footprint. What may seem like an innocent upload or shared post can have a significant effect not only on law enforcement personnel but on their departments, families, and friends. Law enforcement should take the steps now to protect themselves and their family members before becoming a victim.

(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI-NCTC Guide: Cyber Threats to First Responders are a Persistent Concern

We assess with moderate confidence that cyber actors, including those who support violent extremism, are likely to continue targeting first responders on the World Wide Web, including by distributing personally identifiable information (PII) for the purpose of soliciting attacks from willing sympathizers in the homeland, hacking government websites, or attacking 911 phone systems to hinder first responders’ ability to respond to crises.

DHS Report: Artificial Intelligence Risk to Critical Infrastructure

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an emerging risk that will affect critical infrastructure (CI) as it becomes common throughout the United States. The purpose of this research paper is to analyze the narratives about AI to understand the prominence of perceived key benefits and threats from AI adoption and the resulting implications for infrastructure security and resilience. Narratives are strongly held beliefs, and understanding them will help decision makers mitigate potential consequences before they become significant problems.

FBI Cyber Bulletin: IP Addresses and Domains Used by Iran-Based Cyber Actors to Attack Victims Worldwide

The FBI assesses a group of malicious cyber actors—likely located in Iran—use Virtual Private Server infrastructure hosted in the United States to compromise government, corporate, and academic computer networks based in the Middle East, Europe and the United States. This infrastructure is used in conjunction with identified malicious domains to support a broad cyber campaign which likely includes the use of e-mail spear phishing, social engineering, and malicious Web sites (“watering hole attack”). These cyber actors almost certainly have been involved in this activity since at least early-2015.

U.S. Army Mad Scientist Conference Report: The 2050 Cyber Army

The Mad Scientist 2050 Cyber Army project explored the visualization of the Army’s Cyber Force out to 2050 and its ability to address three major objectives of the Army’s Cyberspace Strategy for Unified Land Operations 2025: What does the cyber environment look like in 2040-2050 (how will cyber influence the environment and the population? What will connecting look like / what will they connect to? What are the drivers influencing this or not)? How do we build an Army Cyber Force that can dominate the cyber domain in the context of the multi-domain battle concept to gain a position of relative advantage? How can we build shared goals and expectations as well as develop an understanding of roles and responsibilities in order to build and maintain partnerships with U.S., and international academia, industry, defense departments/ministries and other agencies to enhance cyberspace operations? What new ideas should we be considering? Co-sponsored by the TRADOC G-2 and the Army Cyber Institute at the United States Military Academy, the 2050 Cyber Army project leveraged submitted papers, an on-line technology survey, and a 13-14 September Mad Scientist Conference that generated the insights synthesized in this report.

FBI Cyber Bulletin: Individuals Threatening Distributed Denial of Service of Private-Sector Companies for Bitcoin

An individual or group claiming to be “Anonymous” or “Lizard Squad” sent extortion emails to private-sector companies threatening to conduct distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on their network unless they received an identified amount of Bitcoin. No victims to date have reported DDoS activity as a penalty for non-payment.

(U//FOUO) DHS Report: Ransomware Goals of Malicious Actors and Current System Vulnerabilities

OCIA assesses that if specific industrial control systems (ICS) were successfully infected with ransomware, it could affect the ability of certain sectors to provide real-time management and control of large networks of geographically scattered equipment. Although security researchers have demonstrated the possibility of ransomware targeting control systems, OCIA assesses that such an attack is highly unlikely given the higher success rate against consumer and business systems, the likelihood that business and process control networks are segmented, and the ability for operators to take a control system out of service and employ manual overrides.