Recent Posts

Report: Insecure SEC Laptops Toted To Black Hat

What’s worse than neglecting to encrypt the data on the government-issue laptop you use to handle sensitive data related to the workings of U.S. equities markets? How about hopping on a plane and bringing said laptop with you to the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, one of the world’s largest gatherings of hackers. That’s just one of the allegations in an as-yet unreleased Inspector General report on irregularities at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), according to a report on Friday by Reuters. The Inspector General’s report, a copy of which was reviewed by Reuters, found evidence of widespread lapses in information security within the agency that acts as a watchdog over stock markets and exchanges within the U.S. Among other errors, staff at the SEC failed to encrypt laptops containing sensitive stock exchange data or even install antivirus software on those systems, Reuters reported. The Inspector General […]

Support Forums Reveal Soft Underbelly of Critical Infrastructure

We hear a lot about vulnerabilities in industrial control system (ICS) software. In fact, that’s all we seem to hear about these days. The truth is: there’s a lot to write about. In just the last month, the Department of Homeland Security’s ICS-CERT warned its members about the ability of  sophisticated – and even unskilled – attackers to use tools like the Shodan and ERIPP search engines to locate and attack vulnerable industrial control systems (PDF) that are accessible from the public Internet. In the meantime, every couple of weeks brings revelations about serious and remotely exploitable software holes. Most recently, ICS-CERT warned about a critical vulnerability EOScada (PDF), a Windows-based Energy Management System that is used to configure and manage intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) used in electrical, water, sewage and gas applications. But what about real evidence of compromised SCADA and industrial control systems? That’s a taller order. After all: most […]

Medical Pumps Recall: Bug Causes Inaccurate Readings on Touchscreen

Mobile phones aren’t the only products to benefit from nifty touch screen displays. A whole range of medical devices now sport them, also – as any trip to your local emergency department (or dentist’s office) will reveal. Unfortunately, many of those devices are just as balky and bug ridden as your average mobile phone -despite the fact that patients’ lives can rely on them. And this week, there’s more evidence of the lurking epidemic of shoddy, IP enabled medical devices. The medical device maker Hospira issued a voluntary, nationwide recall of its Symbiq brand infusion systems after discovering a software error that caused the touch screen interfaces on the devices to respond incorrectly to user input. The problem could result in “a delayed response and or the screen registering a different value from the value selected by the user,” the company said in a statement. Symbiq is a drug infusion […]

Forget Cyberwar, Sandy Puts Continuity Plans To the Test

We’ve all read a lot about the potentially devastating impact of a pre-emptive, nation-state backed cyber attack on our critical infrastructure in recent years. Why, it wasn’t more than two weeks ago that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned about the dire consequences of a “digital Pearl Harbor.” An “aggressor nation or extremist group,” he warned “could use these kinds of cybertools to gain control of critical switches … [and] derail passenger trains, or even more dangerous, trains loaded with lethal chemicals,” according to a report in Stars and Stripes.  “They could contaminate the water supply in major cities, or shut down the power grid across large parts of the country.” It’s scary stuff, for sure. But not unprecedented. In fact: anyone on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States can look out their window right now and see a major dry run (more like a wet run) of a massive […]

FBI Surveillance of NY Fed Terror Suspect Included Facebook Chats

The FBI’s surveillance of Quazi Nafis, the alleged terror suspect who tried to blow up the New York Federal Reserve Bank, included Facebook chats between  Nafis, a co-conspirator and a confidential FBI source, according to a copy of the indictment released on Wednesday. The indictment details a months-long investigation of Nafis, a 21 year-old Bangladeshi and Queens, New York, resident who entered the U.S. on a visa in January, 2012. While much of the surveillance consisted of recorded phone- and in person conversations, Nafis also used Facebook in July to debate with his co-conspirators about whether his planned act of jihad was sanctioned under Muslim law. Nafis was arrested in New York’s financial district Wednesday after he attempted to detonate what he believed was a truck bomb parked outside the New York Federal Reserve bank. The bomb was assembled by Nafis and a co-conspirator using inert materials supplied by the […]