China

Report Exposes Links Between Chinese Govt., Hacking Group

If you read one story today (besides this one, of course!) it should be The New York Times’ write-up of a just-released, 60-page report (PDF) on a Chinese hacking group known as APT1 by the security firm Mandiant. At a one level, the report doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know: APT1 is a professional, hacking crew that operates from within China and with the full knowledge and support of the Chinese Government. Most of us already suspected that. The report is worth reading for the depths of Mandiant’s research into APT \1 and the revelations of just how close the ties are to the Chinese government and, particularly, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Specifically: Mandiant is able to parse the findings of around 150 intrusions it has analyzed that are attributable to APT 1 – which is probably some small fraction of all the attacks the group has carried out. […]

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 […]

Obama CyberSecurity Order Puts Infrastructure Owners On Notice

President Barack Obama issued a long-anticipated Executive Order for improving the nation’s cyber security late Tuesday. The Order, released on the same evening as President Obama addressed both chambers of Congress with his State of the Union Address called cyber attacks “one of the most serious national security challenges we must confront,” and put public and private owners of critical infrastructure in the U.S. on notice that they would need to work closely with the government to reduce the risk of crippling cyber attacks.   President Obama issued the Order after Congress failed, in its last session, to agree on comprehensive cyber security legislation. Negotiations over the bill broke down over Republican amendments to a Democratic sponsored bill and concerns from the business community about the cost of complying with some of the more controversial provisions. Among those: a requirement that the Department of Homeland Security be able to audit […]

You’ve Been Hacked By APT! (The Video)

The whole APT – or “Advanced Persistent Threat” – meme has received a lot of attention in the media. This site and others have written about APT-style hacks, such as the recent compromise at The New York Times. But what does an APT hack look like? And what would it mean if you or your employer were in the crosshairs of an APT-type actor? The SANS Institute’s Securing The Human project has put together a nice training video that helps answer some of these questions, and to explain how APT-style attacks work. This is good stuff – explaining the difference between cyber crime and APT, and generic enough that any organization could use it as a training video. SANS says that it will produce one of these a month, and post them on the first of each month. My only criticism here is that, after they do a solid job describing […]

Friday Night Massacre: Twitter Hacked, Info on 250k Exposed

What better time to drop some really bad and embarrassing news than late on a Friday afternoon, as everyone is heading out the door? So it was with social media giant Twitter, which dropped a bombshell late Friday: revealing that it had been compromised in an “extremely sophisticated” attack that yielded the account credentials for around 250,000 users. A blog post by Twitter Security Team member Bob Lord on Friday said that the company has been investigating the breach all week long, after detecting unusual patterns of account access across its network. After stopping an attack that was in progress, the company’s investigation revealed that the attackers “may have had access to limited user information – usernames, email addresses, session tokens and encrypted/saltedversions of passwords – for approximately 250,000 users,” Lord wrote. Twitter did not discuss the circumstances of the breach, but reiterated guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for users to disable Java […]