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Paul Merrell

Trump administration pulls back curtain on secretive cybersecurity process - The Washin... - 0 views

  • The White House on Wednesday made public for the first time the rules by which the government decides to disclose or keep secret software flaws that can be turned into cyberweapons — whether by U.S. agencies hacking for foreign intelligence, money-hungry criminals or foreign spies seeking to penetrate American computers. The move to publish an un­classified charter responds to years of criticism that the process was unnecessarily opaque, fueling suspicion that it cloaked a stockpile of software flaws that the National Security Agency was hoarding to go after foreign targets but that put Americans’ cyber­security at risk.
  • The rules are part of the “Vulnerabilities Equities Process,” which the Obama administration revamped in 2014 as a multi­agency forum to debate whether and when to inform companies such as Microsoft and Juniper that the government has discovered or bought a software flaw that, if weaponized, could affect the security of their product. The Trump administration has mostly not altered the rules under which the government reaches a decision but is disclosing its process. Under the VEP, an “equities review board” of at least a dozen national security and civilian agencies will meet monthly — or more often, if a need arises — to discuss newly discovered vulnerabilities. Besides the NSA, the CIA and the FBI, the list includes the Treasury, Commerce and State departments, and the Office of Management and Budget. The priority is on disclosure, the policy states, to protect core Internet systems, the U.S. economy and critical infrastructure, unless there is “a demonstrable, overriding interest” in using the flaw for intelligence or law enforcement purposes. The government has long said that it discloses the vast majority — more than 90 percent — of the vulnerabilities it discovers or buys in products from defense contractors or other sellers. In recent years, that has amounted to more than 100 a year, according to people familiar with the process. But because the process was classified, the National Security Council, which runs the discussion, was never able to reveal any numbers. Now, Joyce said, the number of flaws disclosed and the number retained will be made public in an annual report. A classified version will be sent to Congress, he said.
Paul Merrell

We Need to Save the Internet from the Internet of Things | Motherboard - 0 views

  • Brian Krebs is a popular reporter on the cybersecurity beat. He regularly exposes cybercriminals and their tactics, and consequently is regularly a target of their ire. Last month, he wrote about an online attack-for-hire service that resulted in the arrest of the two proprietors. In the aftermath, his site was taken down by a massive DDoS attack.In many ways, this is nothing new. Distributed denial-of-service attacks are a family of attacks that cause websites and other internet-connected systems to crash by overloading them with traffic. The "distributed" part means that other insecure computers on the internet—sometimes in the millions—are recruited to a botnet to unwittingly participate in the attack. The tactics are decades old; DDoS attacks are perpetrated by lone hackers trying to be annoying, criminals trying to extort money, and governments testing their tactics. There are defenses, and there are companies that offer DDoS mitigation services for hire. Basically, it's a size vs. size game. If the attackers can cobble together a fire hose of data bigger than the defender's capability to cope with, they win. If the defenders can increase their capability in the face of attack, they win. What was new about the Krebs attack was both the massive scale and the particular devices the attackers recruited. Instead of using traditional computers for their botnet, they used CCTV cameras, digital video recorders, home routers, and other embedded computers attached to the internet as part of the Internet of Things. Much has been written about how the IoT is wildly insecure. In fact, the software used to attack Krebs was simple and amateurish. What this attack demonstrates is that the economics of the IoT mean that it will remain insecure unless government steps in to fix the problem. This is a market failure that can't get fixed on its own.
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    Bruce Schneier pointing to a massive security hole in the Internet of Things ("IoT").
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Cybersecurity isn't an IT problem, it's a business problem - 0 views

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    "The emergence of the CISO is a relatively recent phenomenon at many companies. Their success often relies upon educating the business from the ground up. In the process, companies become a lot better about how to handle security and certainly learn how not to handle it."
Paul Merrell

NSA's use of software flaws to hack foreign targets posed risks to cybersecurity - The ... - 0 views

  • To penetrate the computers of foreign targets, the National Security Agency relies on software flaws that have gone undetected in the pipes of the Internet. For years, security experts have pressed the agency to disclose these bugs so they can be fixed, but the agency hackers have often been reluctant. Now with the mysterious release of a cache of NSA hacking tools over the weekend, the agency has lost an offensive advantage, experts say, and potentially placed at risk the security of countless large companies and government agencies worldwide. Several of the tools exploited flaws in commercial firewalls that remain unpatched, and they are out on the Internet for all to see. Anyone from a basement hacker to a sophisticated foreign spy agency has access to them now, and until the flaws are fixed, many computer systems may be in jeopardy. The revelation of the NSA cache, which dates to 2013 and has not been confirmed by the agency, also highlights the administration’s little-known process for figuring out which software errors to disclose and which to keep secret.
Paul Merrell

What to Do About Lawless Government Hacking and the Weakening of Digital Security | Ele... - 0 views

  • In our society, the rule of law sets limits on what government can and cannot do, no matter how important its goals. To give a simple example, even when chasing a fleeing murder suspect, the police have a duty not to endanger bystanders. The government should pay the same care to our safety in pursuing threats online, but right now we don’t have clear, enforceable rules for government activities like hacking and "digital sabotage." And this is no abstract question—these actions increasingly endanger everyone’s security
  • The problem became especially clear this year during the San Bernardino case, involving the FBI’s demand that Apple rewrite its iOS operating system to defeat security features on a locked iPhone. Ultimately the FBI exploited an existing vulnerability in iOS and accessed the contents of the phone with the help of an "outside party." Then, with no public process or discussion of the tradeoffs involved, the government refused to tell Apple about the flaw. Despite the obvious fact that the security of the computers and networks we all use is both collective and interwoven—other iPhones used by millions of innocent people presumably have the same vulnerability—the government chose to withhold information Apple could have used to improve the security of its phones. Other examples include intelligence activities like Stuxnet and Bullrun, and law enforcement investigations like the FBI’s mass use of malware against Tor users engaged in criminal behavior. These activities are often disproportionate to stopping legitimate threats, resulting in unpatched software for millions of innocent users, overbroad surveillance, and other collateral effects.  That’s why we’re working on a positive agenda to confront governmental threats to digital security. Put more directly, we’re calling on lawyers, advocates, technologists, and the public to demand a public discussion of whether, when, and how governments can be empowered to break into our computers, phones, and other devices; sabotage and subvert basic security protocols; and stockpile and exploit software flaws and vulnerabilities.  
  • Smart people in academia and elsewhere have been thinking and writing about these issues for years. But it’s time to take the next step and make clear, public rules that carry the force of law to ensure that the government weighs the tradeoffs and reaches the right decisions. This long post outlines some of the things that can be done. It frames the issue, then describes some of the key areas where EFF is already pursuing this agenda—in particular formalizing the rules for disclosing vulnerabilities and setting out narrow limits for the use of government malware. Finally it lays out where we think the debate should go from here.   
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    "In our society, the rule of law sets limits on what government can and cannot do, no matter how important its goals. "
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    It's not often that I disagree with EFF's positions, but on this one I do. The government should be prohibited from exploiting computer vulnerabilities and should be required to immediately report all vulnerabilities discovered to the relevant developers of hardware or software. It's been one long slippery slope since the Supreme Court first approved wiretapping in Olmstead v. United States, 277 US 438 (1928), https://goo.gl/NJevsr (.) Left undecided to this day is whether we have a right to whisper privately, a right that is undeniable. All communications intercept cases since Olmstead fly directly in the face of that right.
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Cybersecurity law given thumbs up by European Union's ministers | Ars Technica UK - 0 views

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    "Former adoption paves way for legislation at national level within next two years. by Jennifer Baker - May 17, 2016 1:47pm CEST"
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    "Former adoption paves way for legislation at national level within next two years. by Jennifer Baker - May 17, 2016 1:47pm CEST"
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Senate Passes CISA, The Surveillance Bill Masquerading As A Cybersecurity Bill; Here's ... - 0 views

    • Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.
       
      # ! Between the ''No Neutrality' in Europe and the 'No Privacy' in US, what of the Society's Democratic Rights remain for the politics...? :(
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    "After rejecting all the good privacy amendments to CISA, the Senate has now officially passed the legislation by a 74 to 21 vote. About the only "good" news is that the vote is lower than the 83 Senators who voted for cloture on it last week. Either way, the Senate basically just passed a bill that will almost certainly be used mainly for warrantless domestic surveillance, rather than any actual cybersecurity concern. "
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    "After rejecting all the good privacy amendments to CISA, the Senate has now officially passed the legislation by a 74 to 21 vote. About the only "good" news is that the vote is lower than the 83 Senators who voted for cloture on it last week. Either way, the Senate basically just passed a bill that will almost certainly be used mainly for warrantless domestic surveillance, rather than any actual cybersecurity concern. "
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Common cybersecurity myths debunked | CSO Online - 0 views

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    "One of the greatest challenges for organizations attempting to address cybersecurity risks is the number of fundamental security myths that cause organizations to incorrectly assess threats, misallocate resources, and set inappropriate goals."
Paul Merrell

Facebook and Corporate "Friends" Threat Exchange? | nsnbc international - 0 views

  • Facebook teamed up with several corporate “friends” to adapt Facebook’s in-house software to identify cyber threats and their source with other corporations. Countering cyber threats sounds positive while there are serious questions about transparency when smaller, independent media fall victim to major corporation’s unwillingness to reveal the source of attacks resulted in websites being closed for hours or days. Transparency, yes, but for whom? Among the companies Facebook is teaming up with are Printerest, Tumblr, Twitter, Yahoo, Drpbox and Bit.ly, reports Susanne Posel at Occupy Corporatism. The stated goal of “Threat Exchange” is to locate malware, the source domains, the IP addresses which are involved as well as the nature of the malware itself.
  • While the platform may be useful for major corporations, who can afford buying the privilege to join the club, the initiative does little to nothing to protect smaller, independent media from being targeted with impunity. The development prompts the question “Cyber security for whom?” The question is especially pertinent because identifying a site as containing malware, whether it is correct or not, will result in the site being added to Google’s so-called “Safe Browsing List”.
  • An article written by nsnbc editor-in-chief Christof Lehmann entitled “Censorship Alert: The Alternative Media are getting harassed by the NSA” provides several examples which raise serious questions about the lack of transparency when independent media demand information about either real or alleged malware content on their media’s websites. An alleged malware content in a java script that had been inserted via the third-party advertising company MadAdsMedia resulted in the nsnbc website being closed down and added to Google’s Safe Browsing list. The response to nsnbc’s request to send detailed information about the alleged malware and most importantly, about the source, was rejected. MadAdsMedia’s response to a renewed request was to stop serving advertisements to nsnbc from one day to the other, stating that nsnbc could contact another company, YieldSelect, which is run by the same company. Shell Games? SiteLock, who partners with most western-based web hosting providers, including BlueHost, Hostgator and many others contacted nsnbc warning about an alleged malware threat. SiteLock refused to provide detailed information.
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  • BlueHost refused to help the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC)  during a Denial of Service DoS attack. Asked for help, BlueHost reportedly said that they should deal with the issue themselves, which was impossible without BlueHost’s cooperation. The news agency’s website was down for days because BlueHost reportedly just shut down IMEMC’s server and told the editor-in-chief, Saed Bannoura to “go somewhere else”. The question is whether “transparency” can be the privilege of major corporations or whether there is need for legislation that forces all corporations to provide detailed information that enables media and other internet users to pursue real or alleged malware threats, cyber attacks and so forth, criminally and legally. That is, also when the alleged or real threat involves major corporations.
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

'Cybersecurity' begins with integrity, not surveillance | Technology | theguardian.com - 1 views

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    "If you've been following the surveillance debate, you may have noticed that it is actually two debates: first, it is a debate about whether mass surveillance works; and second, it is a debate about whether mass surveillance is a good idea, whether or not it works." [# Wonder if... # ! … '#integrity' is a #VALUE # ! still even considered in #politics…]
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    "If you've been following the surveillance debate, you may have noticed that it is actually two debates: first, it is a debate about whether mass surveillance works; and second, it is a debate about whether mass surveillance is a good idea, whether or not it works."
Paul Merrell

Beware the Dangers of Congress' Latest Cybersecurity Bill | American Civil Liberties Union - 0 views

  • A new cybersecurity bill poses serious threats to our privacy, gives the government extraordinary powers to silence potential whistleblowers, and exempts these dangerous new powers from transparency laws. The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014 ("CISA") was scheduled to be marked up by the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday but has been delayed until after next week's congressional recess. The response to the proposed legislation from the privacy, civil liberties, tech, and open government communities was quick and unequivocal – this bill must not go through. The bill would create a massive loophole in our existing privacy laws by allowing the government to ask companies for "voluntary" cooperation in sharing information, including the content of our communications, for cybersecurity purposes. But the definition they are using for the so-called "cybersecurity information" is so broad it could sweep up huge amounts of innocent Americans' personal data. The Fourth Amendment protects Americans' personal data and communications from undue government access and monitoring without suspicion of criminal activity. The point of a warrant is to guard that protection. CISA would circumvent the warrant requirement by allowing the government to approach companies directly to collect personal information, including telephonic or internet communications, based on the new broadly drawn definition of "cybersecurity information."
  • While we hope many companies would jealously guard their customers' information, there is a provision in the bill that would excuse sharers from any liability if they act in "good faith" that the sharing was lawful. Collected information could then be used in criminal proceedings, creating a dangerous end-run around laws like the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which contain warrant requirements. In addition to the threats to every American's privacy, the bill clearly targets potential government whistleblowers. Instead of limiting the use of data collection to protect against actual cybersecurity threats, the bill allows the government to use the data in the investigation and prosecution of people for economic espionage and trade secret violations, and under various provisions of the Espionage Act. It's clear that the law is an attempt to give the government more power to crack down on whistleblowers, or "insider threats," in popular bureaucratic parlance. The Obama Administration has brought more "leaks" prosecutions against government whistleblowers and members of the press than all previous administrations combined. If misused by this or future administrations, CISA could eliminate due process protections for such investigations, which already favor the prosecution.
  • While actively stripping Americans' privacy protections, the bill also cloaks "cybersecurity"-sharing in secrecy by exempting it from critical government transparency protections. It unnecessarily and dangerously provides exemptions from state and local sunshine laws as well as the federal Freedom of Information Act. These are both powerful tools that allow citizens to check government activities and guard against abuse. Edward Snowden's revelations from the past year, of invasive spying programs like PRSIM and Stellar Wind, have left Americans shocked and demanding more transparency by government agencies. CISA, however, flies in the face of what the public clearly wants. (Two coalition letters, here and here, sent to key members of the Senate yesterday detail the concerns of a broad coalition of organizations, including the ACLU.)
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    Text of the bill is on Sen. Diane Feinstein's site, http://goo.gl/2cdsSA It is truly a bummer.
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

It's privacy versus cybersecurity as CISPA bill arrives in Senate | ITworld - 2 views

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    [ By Melissa Riofrio, PC World | Security, CISPA, privacy April 25, 2013, 12:16 PM - Cybersecurity and online privacy are two critical interests that seem destined never to get along. Sure, you want malicious hackers, spammers, and other Internet lowlifes brought to justice--but you also want to protect your online data. ...]
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