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 […]
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UPDATE: Vulnerability In EAS To Blame For Fake Zombie Apocalypse Warning?
Editor’s Note: Updated to include information on the brand of EAS device that was compromised. – PFR 2/14/2013 OK – the good news is that the dead aren’t rising from their graves and the Zombie Apocalypse hasn’t begun (yet…). The bad news: a phony EAS (Emergency Alerting System) warning about just such a cataclysm earlier this week may have been the result of a hack of what one security researcher says are known vulnerabilities in the hardware and software that is used to distribute emergency broadcasts to the public in the U.S. The warning from Mike Davis, a Principal Research Scientist at the firm IOActive, comes just days after unknown hackers compromised EAS systems at television stations in the U.S. and broadcast a bogus emergency alert claiming that the “dead were rising from their graves” and attacking people. Published reports say that at least four television stations were the victims […]
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 […]
Bit9 Defends Response To Hack, Promises More Details
The security firm Bit9 defended its response to a hack of its own network last week and promised to release more information to the public about what happened – just not quite yet. In a blog post dated Saturday, February 9, the company’s CTO, Harry Sverdlove, said that the company responded promptly to the attack and contacted customers as soon as it completed its own investigation of the hack, which allowed unknown assailants to sign malicious programs using a Bit9 code signing server. That malware was subsequently released on networks of Bit9 customers. Sverdlove said the company’s “first and foremost priority was to inform our customers quickly and directly,” and that the company did so “as soon as we understood and had mitigated the attack, and we were able to provide actionable advice.” The blog post by Sverdlove, just a day after a post by Bit9 CEO Patrick Morley that disclosed […]
Whitelist Goes Black: Security Firm Bit9 Hacked
Application “whitelisting” offers an alternative to signature based malware protection. Rather than trying to spot the bad guys, the thinking goes, just identify a list of approved (whitelisted) applications, then block everything else. But what happens when the whitelist, itself, becomes compromised? That’s the scenario that’s playing out with customers of whitelisting firm Bit9, which acknowledged a breach of its corporate network that allowed unknown assailants to gain control of an application code signing server. The acknowledgement came after Bit9 was contacted regarding the breach by Brian Krebs of Krebsonsecurity.com, which broke the news Friday. Little is known about the incident. In a blog post, Bit9’s CEO, Patrick Morley, said that only three of the company’ s customers were affected. Those customers identified malware on their networks that had been signed by one of Bit9’s code signing servers. The lapse was the result of a breach on Bit9’s own network. […]