physical security

Senator Warns of DHS Struggle with Cyber Security

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) used his final days in office to warn that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is struggling to fulfill its mission to protect the nation from cyber attack. The report, “A Review of the Department of Homeland Security’s Missions and Performance,” (PDF) was released on Saturday, as the retiring Senator from Oklahoma was leaving office. In it, the outgoing Senator said that DHS’s strategy and programs “are unlikely to protect us from the adversaries that pose the greatest cybersecurity threat.” The warnings on DHS cyber operations were part of a larger critique of the Department in the report, in which Coburn called on reforms of Homeland Security focused on accountability and streamlining. Despite spending $700 million annually on a range of cybersecurity programs, Coburn said it is hard to know whether the Department’s efforts to assist the private sector in identifying, mitigating or remediating cyber […]

Wireless Infusion Pump is Test Case for Securing Medical Devices

A National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) reference document is providing some of the clearest guidance from the U.S. government for securing connected medical devices, but may be setting too low a bar for securing wireless communications, according to a security expert. NIST, working with the University of Minnesota’s Technological Leadership Institute, released a draft Use Case document  (PDF) on December 18 to help health care providers “secure their medical devices on an enterprise networks.” However, in the area of communications security, the document suggests the use of WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), a legacy wireless security technology that can easily be cracked. NIST released the draft security use case document and is seeking feedback from the public. The drug infusion pump case study is described as the “first of a series” of similar use cases that will focus on medical device security, NIST wrote. The draft document presents a technical description of the security challenges […]

Cyberattack Inflicts Massive Damage on German Steel Factory

  A report released this week from Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security said that a German steel manufacturing plant was severely damaged by a cyber-physical attack this year. The incident was mentioned in an annual report by the Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik (or BSI), which provided a summary of cyber security issues and incidents affecting Germany. According to the report, a German steel manufacturing facility was the victim of a “targeted attack” that the report labeled an “APT” or “advanced persistent threat” style attack.  [Read more Security Ledger coverage of APT-style attacks.] The attackers used a sophisticated spear-phishing e-mail and social engineering to get access to the office network at the steelworks, the report claims. “From there, they worked successively to production networks.” The malicious code disrupted the function of control system components that led to a blast furnace not being able to be turned off in a regulated fashion. “The result (was) massive damage […]

White House Cyber Chief: JP Morgan Underscores Critical Infrastructure Risk

The White House’s cyber security czar, Michael Daniel, said the Obama Administration is deeply concerned about the reported hack of systems belonging to banking giant JP Morgan Chase & Co. but sees the incident as part of a larger trend of attacks against U.S. critical infrastructure. Asked about the targeted attack against JP Morgan and other banks and financial institutions, Daniel said that the White House was concerned, but not surprised by the incident. “We have watched for several years the trend of malicious actors in cyber try to figure out how to target critical infrastructure,” he said. “Financial services is critical infrastructure.” The White House was concerned that a major U.S. bank would fall victim to hackers, but sees it in the context of a “broad trend,” rather than an isolated incident, he said. Speaking with Michael Farrell, the Cybersecurity Editor at Christian Science Monitor, Daniel hit on many of the now-common talking […]

Europol Warns of Internet of Things Risk

In a newly released report, Europol’s European Cybercrime Center (EC3) warns that the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) threatens to strengthen the hand of organized cyber criminal groups and make life much more difficult for police and governments that wish to pursue them. EC3’s latest Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment (iOCTA) says the “Internet of Everything” will greatly complicate the work of law enforcement creating “new opportunities for everything from cyber criminals to state actors to child abusers. The growing numbers of connected devices will greatly expand the “attack surface” available for cyber criminal activity, the EC3 warns. Cyber criminals may co-opt connected devices for use in common criminal activity (like denial of service attacks and spam campaigns). However, advancements like connected (“smart”) vehicles and infrastructure create openings for large scale and disruptive attacks. The report, which was published late last months, is a high level position paper and pulls data mostly […]