Can Congress Protect the Nation's Critical Infrastructure?

The nation’s critical infrastructure is at risk--a well-executed cyber attack could have a potentially devastating effect. Congress is trying to patch some of the holes with legislation, but a recent survey found that most security experts have little faith that government regulation can do the trick.

Sensational attacks against the critical infrastructure make for great stories in books like Zero Day: A Novel by respected security expert Mark Russinovich, or perhaps something from Dan Brown. But, many security experts believe that we are in very real danger of such attacks moving from fiction to reality, and that we are woefully unprepared to defend against, or respond to them.

Most of our elected officials are simply not qualified to craft information security legislation.
What is the “critical infrastructure”? Executive Order 13010, signed by President Clinton on July 15, 1996 established the President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection. It explains, “Certain national infrastructures are so vital that their incapacity or destruction would have a debilitating impact on the defense or economic security of the United States.”

Read more »


How to choose an office security system

Protect Your Assets: A Buying Guide to Office Security Systems
We talk frequently about cybersecurity, discussing how to protect your business’s data by using strong passwords, deploying antimalware utilities, and keeping your computers safe with the latest patches and updates. This time, the focus is on premises security, or protecting your business’s physical assets from burglary and vandalism.

The best cybersecurity measures in the world are useless if a thief breaks into your office and makes off with your computers.

You won’t lose any digital data if you’ve followed our advice to back up your computers to secure, offsite locations; but if your business is like most operations, it isn't entirely digital. You have paper records, including sensitive personal information about your employees.

ADT Pulse

These systems are professionally installed, but they're pricey.

An ADT keypad lets you arm and disarm the alarm system.
ADT maintains a large presence in both the residential and commercial security markets. The company rolled out its residential Pulse system in late 2011, and is now marketing the same devices and services to small businesses.

RedCloud Express

This system provides site security via sophisticated access control.

RedCloud boasts that its RedCloud Express system "is as easy [to set up] as a wireless router."
RedCloud provides a different type of premises security system, one that revolves around access control. As such, RedCloud Express wouldn’t be appropriate for a retail operation open to the public, but it is ideally suited for small-office buildings, warehouses, and manufacturing facilities where you need to restrict access to authorized personnel and you wish to keep track of who’s coming and going.

Read more »


Mac OS X Targeted By Clever New Trojan

A new Mac malware threat has been discovered. The OSX/Crisis Trojan is an insidious clever threat. Mac users should take steps to defend against this new malware, and proactively defend against future threats while they’re at it.

OSX/Crisis is uniquely sneaky. First of all, the malware is cross-platform. It identifies the operating system, and executes different instructions depending on whether the target is a Windows or Mac OS X system. The malware is capable of infecting OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” and OS X 10.7 “Lion” systems without requiring a password, or any user intervention.

Once it infiltrates the system, it exhibits different behavior depending on whether or not it has Admin level privileges on the target. OSX/Crisis is exceptional in its ability to adapt on the fly to attack a broader range of targets.

Read more »


Microsoft Rolls BlueHat Prize Finalist's Concept Into EMET 3.5

Microsoft announced a new version of its EMET (Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit) software at the Blackhat conference in Las Vegas. What’s unique about the EMET 3.5 Technology Preview is that it includes new defenses inspired by one of Microsoft’s BlueHat Prize finalists.

EMET is a free utility from Microsoft that adds an extra layer of defense to prevent vulnerabilities from being successfully exploited. The software is a collection of tools and mitigation techniques that can be applied to protect against attacks.

Guard against attacks with Microsoft's new EMET 3.5.
One class of attacks that previous versions of EMET have not been armed to defend against effectively is Return Oriented Programming (ROP) attacks. Thanks to ROPGuard--a defense technology submitted for Microsoft’s BlueHat contest--EMET 3.5 will have the tools available to defend against ROP attacks.

Read more »


It's a Huge Mistake to Remove Password Prompt for Free Apps in iOS 6

According to sources with access to the developer beta of iOS 6, the next version of Apple’s mobile operating system will allow users to download and install free apps without requiring a password. If Apple doesn’t fix that before iOS 6 is officially launched, it will significantly impair the security of iOS devices.

iOS has established a reputation as the more secure mobile platform. The walled garden of the Apple App Store, and the scrutiny apps must go through before they’re available provide additional layers of defense lacking in other mobile operating systems.

Apple is choosing convenience over security by removing the password requirement in iOS 6.
In this case, though, Apple seems to be choosing functionality and expediency over security. It’s a decision that could come back to haunt Apple, and all iOS users.

Read more »


Power Pwn Outlet Strip Doubles as Stealth Hacking Tool

Normally if you find a rogue outlet strip, or a user happens to bring his or her own surge protector to use you might not think much of it. Thanks to a new device called the Power Pwn, though, it might soon be cause for concern.

A company called Pwnie Express is taking pre-orders for the device. According to the company’s website, “Pwnie Express specializes in innovative, rapid-deployment cyber security products for the IT security professional.”

This working AC power strip might also be covertly spying on your network.
The idea of a power source that doubles as hacking or penetration-testing toolkit isn’t new to Pwnie Express. It also offers a smaller unit that simply plugs into an outlet. However, the Pwn Plug Mini may draw more attention than the Power Pwn, which by all outward appearances is simply a run-of-the-mill surge protector outlet strip.

Read more »


What You Should Know About Grum and the Botnet Takedown

Grum--the third largest botnet in existence, and the source of nearly twenty percent of all spam traffic online--has been taken offline by authorities. In some ways the takedown is significant, but it may not change much in the grand scheme of things. Let’s take a closer look at the botnet, and what the takedown means for all of us.

Perhaps you’ve heard Grum. I’ll be honest, I hadn’t. But, when a single botnet is responsible for one-fifth of all spam traffic it gets the attention of security researchers and law enforcement agencies. The cooperative, collaborative effort involved in this multi-national sting is impressive in its own right, but don’t expect spam to suddenly stop.

The Grum servers are shut down, but many PCs are still infected with the malware.
Adam Wosotowsky, messaging data architect at McAfee Labs, doesn’t consider the Grum takedown to be all that significant in the overall history of botnets, however, he still believes the effort is worthy of praise. “I'm not trying to take anything away from it, but I think that this is just one more step in the right direction and that there were many steps to get here and there will be many steps to go. It shows that the "red line" where botnet behaviors trigger a coordinated international response that takes the botnet down is getting more and more aggressive.”

Read more »