An October 2016 presentation from the Department of Homeland Security on cyber threats to the nation’s infrastructure.
(U//FOUO) DHS, Fusion Centers Reference Aid: Malicious Terrorism Hoaxes Likely to Endure, Strain State and Local First Responder Resources
This Reference Aid is intended to provide information on malicious terrorism hoaxes that will continue to challenge first responder resources throughout the Homeland and territories. This Reference Aid is provided by I&A, DIAC, NCRIC, NVRIC, and NJ-ROIC to support their respective activities, to provide situational awareness, and to assist federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government counterterrorism and law enforcement officials and first responders with recognizing the indicators and implications of malicious terrorism hoaxes. The use of hoax calls may also be used as a technique to lure authorities to a particular location for the purpose of conducting a potential attack, but is not discussed in this article, as luring is viewed as its own distinct tactic.
DHS has no indication that adversaries or criminals are planning cyber operations against US election infrastructure that would change the outcome of the coming US election. Multiple checks and redundancies in US election infrastructure—including diversity of systems, non-Internet connected voting machines, pre-election testing, and processes for media, campaign, and election officials to check, audit, and validate results—make it likely that cyber manipulation of US election systems intended to change the outcome of a national election would be detected.
One of the most significant cyber threats to businesses, local and federal government agencies is the Distributed-Denial-of-Service attack (DDoS). A Distributed Denial of Service attack (DDoS) occurs when an attacker commands a number of computers to send numerous requests to a target computer. The overwhelming flood of requests to the website or computer network can cause it to shut down or fail to handle the requests of legitimate users, much like a rush hour traffic jam on the freeway. This type of attack can completely disrupt an organization’s operations until the network is able to be restored. Understanding the basic concept and methods of a DDoS attack can help operators of both large and small networks mitigate the severity of the attack.
The results of this analysis show a strong earthquake will likely cause significant damage to critical infrastructure in the area affecting 547 dams or water control structures, render approximately 300 roadway segments unusable, and cause damage to 172 water and wastewater treatment systems. The scenario earthquake will likely cause damage to 154 dams in the area. Seven of the dams will likely experience Extensive or Complete damage. The Ward Creek Dam, which is used for flood control, is likely to incur Complete damage. Extensive damage to the James H. Turner Dam poses the greatest risk to downstream population. The earthquake will cause damages to many road segments, bridges, and tunnels in the area. As a result, travel times on these roadways and others will increase significantly. Multiple areas on freeways such as I–680, I–880, and I–580 will have the highest above normal traffic volumes. Several bridges on these freeways will also likely incur Extensive damage. Tunnels in the area will likely have less damage with bores in the Caldecott Tunnel on State Route 24 experiencing only Moderate damage.
A joint intelligence bulletin issued in late August by the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) assesses that homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) are “increasingly favoring civilian targets” as opposed to government facilities and personnel. Previous assessments have found that HVEs are most likely to prioritize “law enforcement personnel, military members, and US Government-associated targets.” However, a recent shift towards civilian targets has likely been driven by the accessibility of “soft targets” that are less secure and provide greater opportunities for mass casualty attacks.
This Joint Intelligence Bulletin (JIB) is intended to provide new insight into the targeting preferences of some homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) and to examine detection challenges and opportunities. This JIB is provided by FBI, DHS, and NCTC to support their respective activities and to assist federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government counterterrorism and law enforcement officials and private sector security partners in deterring, preventing, or disrupting terrorist attacks within the United States.
Joint Staff Strategic Assessment: Counter-Da’esh Influence Operations Cognitive Space Narrative Simulation Insights
When planning to deal with any adversary or potential adversaries, it is essential to understand who they are, how they function, their strengths and vulnerabilities, and why they oppose us. Events over the course of the last year and a half highlight the importance of those factors as they relate to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or Da’esh). One of Da’esh’s obvious strengths is its ability to propagate tailored messages that resonate with its audiences. If the US Government and our allies are to counter Da’esh effectively, we must attack this center of gravity.
The healthcare sector has been a desirable target for hackers due to the sensitive nature of patient information contained in their systems. The stakes are very high in the healthcare industry because any disruption in operations and care can have significant repercussions for patients. As such, this industry offers an ideal victim for ransomware, and these attacks are likely to continue—disrupting employee access to important documents and patient data and hampering the ability to provide critical services—creating a public safety concern.
(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI Bulletin: Law Enforcement Vigilance and Caution Urged at Public and Political Events
This Joint Intelligence Bulletin (JIB) is intended to provide situational awareness concerning the domestic extremist threat to national public and political events. This JIB is provided by the FBI and DHS to support law enforcement in their respective activities and to assist federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government counterterrorism and law enforcement officials and private sector security partners in deterring, preventing, or disrupting terrorist attacks against the United States.
DHS Report Finds “Immeasurable Vulnerabilities and Attack Vectors” Against U.S. Critical Infrastructure
A Department of Homeland Security assessment released in April states that critical infrastructure throughout the U.S. faces “immeasurable vulnerabilities and attack vectors” due to the increasingly prominent role of information and communication technology (ICT) in critical infrastructure sectors. The strategic risk assessment, authored by the Office of Cyber and Infrastructure Analysis within DHS, was obtained by Public Intelligence and describes the “convergence of cyber and physical domains” as a strategic threat to the nation’s infrastructure.
The Department of Homeland Security National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) has notified the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of an increase in ransomware incidents at some healthcare organizations in the U.S. This Bulletin provides Healthcare and Public Health (HPH) Partners with information regarding ransomware, mitigation strategies, as well as additional materials to reference located within the HSIN HPH Cyber Threat Library.
The Department of Homeland Security Office of Cyber and Infrastructure Analysis (DHS OCIA) produces cyberdependency papers to address emerging risks to critical infrastructure and provide increased awareness of the threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences of those risks to the Homeland. This note informs infrastructure and cybersecurity analysts about the potential consequences of cyber-related incidents in the Nuclear Reactors, Materials, and Waste Sector and its resilience to such incidents. This note also clarifies how computer systems support infrastructure operations, how cybersecurity incidents compromise these operations, and the likely functional outcome of a compromise.
(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI-NCTC Bulletin: Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures Used in March 2016 Brussels Attacks
This Joint Intelligence Bulletin (JIB) is intended to provide a review of the tactics, techniques, and procedures demonstrated by the perpetrators of the 22 March 2016 attacks in Brussels, Belgium. The analysis in this JIB is based on statements by European government and law enforcement officials cited in media reporting and is subject to change with the release of official details from post-incident investigations. This JIB is provided by DHS, FBI, and NCTC to support their respective activities and to assist federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government counterterrorism and law enforcement officials, first responders and private sector partners in deterring, preventing, preempting, or disrupting terrorist attacks against the United States.
(U//FOUO) DHS Intelligence Assessment: Damaging Cyber Attacks Possible but Not Likely Against the US Energy Sector
This Assessment establishes a baseline analysis of cyber threats to the US energy sector based on comprehensive FY 2014 incident reporting data compiled by ICS-CERT, as well as reporting by the Intelligence Community (IC), private sector cybersecurity industry, and open source media between early 2011 and January 2016. This Assessment is designed to help close gaps between the private sector’s and the IC’s understanding of current cyber threats facing the US energy sector. Critical infrastructure owners and operators can use this analysis to better understand cyber threats facing the US energy sector and help focus defensive strategies and operations to mitigate these threats. The Assessment does not include an in-depth analysis of foreign cyber doctrines or nation-state red lines for conducting cyber attacks against the United States. The information cutoff date for this Assessment is January 2016.
Unless cyber vulnerabilities are addressed, they will pose a significant risk to port facilities and aboard vessels within the Maritime Subsector. These potential vulnerabilities include limited cybersecurity training and preparedness, errors in software, inadequately protected commercial off-the-shelf technologies and legacy systems, network connectivity and interdependencies, software similarities, foreign dependencies, global positioning system jamming-spoofing, and insider threats.
Cyber attacks against law enforcement, fire departments and other emergency services have become increasingly common and are likely to increase according to a recent intelligence assessment prepared by the Department of Homeland Security and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC). The assessment, which was distributed to law enforcement in September 2015 and was obtained by Public Intelligence, reviewed a number of “cyber attacks against the [emergency services sector or ESS] between February 2012 and May 2015,” finding that “targeting of the ESS will likely increase as ESS systems and networks become more interconnected and the ESS becomes more dependent on information technology for the conduct of daily operations—creating a wider array of attack vectors for cyber targeting.”
(U//FOUO) DHS Assessment: Cyber Targeting of the US Emergency Services Sector Limited, But Persistent
Cyber targeting of the ESS will likely increase as ESS systems and networks become more interconnected and the ESS becomes more dependent on information technology for the conduct of daily operations—creating a wider array of attack vectors for cyber targeting. Independent researchers have already reported on the widespread availability of vulnerabilities and attack vectors for critical hardware and software that is used in this sector extensively. Such vulnerable systems include call-center communications-management software, closed-circuit TV camera systems, interactive voice response systems, and emergency alert systems—particularly wireless emergency alert systems.
Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
DoD, DoJ, DHS, ODNI Sharing Cyber Threat Indicators and Defensive Measures by the Federal Government
(U//LES) DHS-FBI Bulletin: Domestic Extremists Arrested for Illegal Occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
This Joint Intelligence Bulletin (JIB) is intended to provide information on the recent arrest of 11 domestic extremists for conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through force, intimidation, or threats, in violation of 18 USC §372. This JIB is provided by the FBI and DHS to support their respective activities and to assist federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government counterterrorism and law enforcement officials in deterring, preventing, or disrupting terrorist attacks against the United States. As in any criminal case, defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Dam safety incidents can occur at any point during a dam’s lifetime, but the most common period of dam failure is the first 5 years of operation. The United States Society of Dams conducted a study in 2009 of 1,158 national and international dam failures and safety incidents and found that 31 percent of safety incidents occur during construction or within the first 5 years of operation. The most common causes of failure are overtopping, piping, and foundation defects. Overtopping caused by flooding and high-water events accounts for 34 percent of dam failures in the United States. Erosion caused by overtopping can compromise embankments and lead to failure. The risk of overtopping increases if the spillway design is inadequate, debris causes spillway blockage, or the dam crest settles.
Most locks are designed to last for 50 years, but 54 percent of IMTS locks are more than 50 years old, and 36 percent are more than 70 years old. Many of these locks are in need of repair and replacement, and some lack basic maintenance. Concrete is crumbling at some locks, and some have not been painted in 25–30 years, increasing the risk of corrosion. Locks lacking maintenance or in need of repair and replacement are more likely to have unscheduled closures. Unscheduled closures are more costly than scheduled closures, because vessel operators and companies are unable to plan to offset the delays from these incidents. The annual number of unscheduled lock closures has steadily increased since 1992. Fewer than 7,000 unscheduled closures occurred every year before 2000, and more than 7,000 occurred every year after 2000, peaking in 2008 with 13,250.
Social engineering, an age old threat, continues to play a significant role in successful attacks against people, enterprises, and agencies. The advent of the Internet, its diverse and increased use, and the reliance on it by almost every element of society, amplifies social engineering opportunities. Cybercriminals enjoy an expansive attack surface, novel attack vectors, and an increasing number of vulnerable points of entry. Threat actors, both cyber and physical, continue to leverage social engineering due in part to its high rate of success. Security experts believe complex social engineering threats will continue across all vectors and attack levels will continue to intensify.