Recent Posts

FTC Forum Will Tackle Mobile Device Threats

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is continuing to focus its energies on protecting the growing number of consumers using smart phones and other mobile devices. Next up: a public forum to discuss threats to mobile devices. The FTC announced the one-day public forum on Friday and said it hopes to use the event to address problems like “malware, viruses and similar threats facing users of smartphones and other mobile technologies.” The event will take place on June 4th at the FTC’s offices on New Jersey Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. The public forum is just the latest effort by the nation’s leading watchdog to reign in a free-wheeling mobile application marketplace, and put stronger consumer and privacy protections in place. Earlier this month, the agency released a Staff Report that called on mobile OS, mobile device and mobile application firms to provide clearer guidelines to consumers about how their information […]

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 […]

Apple Confirms It Was A Victim In Watering Hole Attack. Who’s Next?

Yesterday the news was that Apple Inc. was yet another victim of a widespread watering-hole style attack on prominent firms, including Facebook and (probably) Twitter. But that list of victims will almost certainly rise, as more information about the watering hole web site and the extent of the breach become public. First, what we know: Twitter, Facebook and now Apple have all made announcements in the last week  about security breaches at their organizations that involved staff computers being infected with malware. Twitter was the first company to go public with the information on February 2nd. But the company said at the time that other firms were likely to have been breached, also. Facebook followed suit, announcing that its employees, also, were targeted in the attack. According to Facebook’s Chief Security Officer, Joe Sullivan, the company’s employees were compromised using a previously unknown (zero day) Java vulnerability after visiting a […]

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. […]

Are Mobile App Developers Prey In A Massive Watering Hole Attack?

Say you’re a “bad guy” and what you really want to do is compromise the systems of some high value targets – like software developers working a prominent, Silicon Valley firms like Facebook and Twitter.   Breaking through the front door isn’t easy – these companies mostly have the technology chops to protect their networks and employees. Phishing e-mails are also a tough sell: the developer community is heavy on Apple Mac systems and – besides – application developers might be harder to phish than your average Fortune 500 executive. A better approach might be to let your prey come to you – attacking them passively by gaining control of a trusted third party web site – a so-called “watering hole.” That’s a scenario that has played out in a number of recent, high profile attacks, such as the so-called “VoHo” attacks documented by Symantec and RSA. It may also be […]