Reports

Obama Lays Down The Law On Cyber Espionage

The Obama Administration on Wednesday released a report detailing new Administration measures to protect U.S. trade secrets and intellectual property. The report: “Administration Strategy on Mitigating the Theft of U.S. Trade Secrets” (PDF) establishes a new foundation for cooperation between the U.S. government and the private sector. It comes just days after a bombshell, 60-page report by the security firm Mandiant that described the activities of “APT1” – a hacking group that Mandiant claims is actually a cyber warfare unit of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA). In a post on the Whitehouse blog, the Administration said the Strategy is a continuation of Obama Administration policy to protect U.S. companies from the theft of trade secrets. Under the new Strategy, the Administration will take a “whole government” approach, using diplomatic pressure via the State Department, coordinated, international legal pressure through the Department of Justice and FBI. The U.S. will tap the […]

Uncle Sam Needs A Plan: GAO Pans Govt. Cybersecurity Efforts in 100 Page Report

There’s been a lot of light and heat in the last week when it comes to the U.S. government and cyber security. After all, President Obama just released his Executive Order on cyber security, which puts an emphasis on identifying and protecting critical infrastructure and, just maybe, pushes the sprawling federal bureaucracy towards better security practices. But a just-released report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) makes clear that, in the big scheme of things, the Executive Order is just window dressing on the mess that is the Federal Government’s handling of cyber security. The report, GAO-13-187 (PDF), is a round-up and updating of previous reports that studied aspects of federal cyber security as they affect a wide range of federal agencies. The GAO’s conclusion? Uncle Sam has made negligible progress towards improving the security of its information systems, and has little to show in key areas such as responding to […]

Wealthy Countries Better At Protecting Citizens…From Malware

To paraphrase a quote attributed to the great American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald: ‘Rich countries aren’t like you and me. They have less malware.’ That’s the conclusion of a special Security Intelligence Report released by Microsoft on Wednesday, which found that the rate of malware infections was relatively lower in countries that were wealthy than those with lower gross income per capita. The study, “Linking Cybersecurity Policy and Performance” investigated the links between rates of computer infections and a range of national characteristics including the relative wealth of a nation, observance of the rule of law and the rate of software piracy. The conclusion: wealthier nations, especially in Europe, do a better job preventing malware infections than poorer and developing nations. The report marks an effort by Microsoft to dig into some of the underlying causes of cyber insecurity globally. Using data gathered from its Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT) […]

New Malware Takes ‘Extended Naps’ To Avoid Detection

It’s a truism that even the bleakest circumstances look a bit brighter after a good nap. Well, that wisdom isn’t lost on malware authors either. A newly discovered Trojan Horse program, dubbed Trojan Nap, is programmed to use extended sleep cycles to fool behavior based anti-malware tools, according to a report from the firm FireEye. In a blog post Tuesday, researchers Abhishek Singh and Ali Islam said the new malware has a function, dubbed SleepEx() that can be used to configure long “naps” that the malware takes after it is installed on a compromised system. The default value, 600,000 milliseconds – or 10 minutes – seems designed to fool automated analysis systems that are programmed to capture a sample of behavior for a set time frame. “By executing a sleep call with a long timeout, Nap can prevent an automated analysis system from capturing its malicious behavior,” FireEye said. Like other […]

Researchers: Hole In TLS Encryption Could Expose Secure Web Sessions

Researchers at the University of London are going public with a paper that claims to have found a flaw in the specification for Transport Layer Security (TLS) that could leave supposedly secure Web, IM, VoIP and other online sessions exposed to prying eyes. The researchers, Nadhem Al Fardan and Kenny Patterson of the Information Security Group at Royal Holloway, University of London said that the security hole stem from a flaw in the TLS specification, rather than a bug in how TLS is implemented. The two researchers have developed proof of concept attacks that take advantage of the flaw, and that could be used to recover a complete block of TLS-encrypted plaintext, the researchers said. Al Fardan is a Ph.D student in the Information Security Group. Patterson is a professor of Information Security there. The two have  discovered other, serious holes in TLS before. Notably: the two discovered a critical […]