Tag: cyber

Government launches cyber-security programme

cannonThe UK government has launched a £20 million education programme to train nearly 6,000 teenagers in cyber security.

The Cyber Security Schools Programme is being rolled out to help address the UK’s IT skills shortage.

Matt Hancock, minister of state for digital, said: “Our Cyber Schools Programme aims to inspire the talent of tomorrow and give thousands of the brightest young minds the chance to learn cutting-edge cybersecurity skills alongside their secondary school studies.

“I encourage all those with the aptitude, enthusiasm and passion for a cybersecurity career to register for what will be a challenging and rewarding scheme.”

Aimed at 14 to 18 year olds, the programme will see teenagers study a range of cyber security areas alongside compulsory education through a network of clubs, activities and online content.

The programme will be delivered through BT, online education platform futureLearn, cyber security training institute SANS and Cyber Security Challenge UK.

The government has set the target of having at least 5,700 students graduating the course by 2021, with routes into employment provided to successful participants.

Students, teachers and industry organisations can register their interest in the programme through its official website.

Lockheed Martin jets into cyber security

DF-SC-82-10542US defence contractor Lockheed Martin sees cyber security as its number one growth area over the next three to five years.

Although it is better known for its jet aircraft, Lockheed Martin is the main provider of IT technology to the US government, said expects double-digit growth in its overall cybersecurity business over the next three to five years.

Lockheed said it was making strong inroads in the commercial market by using its experience and intelligence gathered while guarding its own networks and those of government agencies.
Chief Executive Officer Marillyn Hewson said Lockheed was providing cyber security services for more than 200 customers around the world in the energy, oil and gas, chemical, financial services and pharmaceuticals business.

Hewson told the company’s annual media day that Lockheed had faced 50 “coordinated, sophisticated campaign” attacks by hackers in 2014 alone, and she expected those threats to continue growing.

Lockheed now represented a large number of companies on the Fortune 500 list, including 79 percent of utilities, 35 percent of oil and gas companies, 46 percent of chemical firms, and 46 percent of financial firms.

It has been helped by the fact that other weapons makers, including Boeing and Harris have largely exited the cyber security business after finding it difficult to generate any real cash.

British army gets its own social networking unit

article-2630396-1DE5D1E700000578-447_470x721The British Army is setting up a psy-ops unit that will fight its battles on social media “in the information age”.

Head of the Army General Sir Nick Carter said the move was about trying to operate “smarter”.

Dubbed the 77th Brigade, the unit will be made up of reservists and regular troops and based in Hermitage, Berkshire.

Apparently, it has been inspired by the Chindits who fought in Burma in World War Two and seeks “new ways of allowing civilians with bespoke skills to serve alongside their military counterparts”.

Chindits was the name given to the Long Range Penetration (LRP) groups that operated in the Burmese jungle behind enemy lines, targeting Japanese communications.

The new unit will also use the old Chindit insignia of a Chinthe, a mythical Burmese creature which is half-lion and half-dragon.

The unit recognises that the actions of others in a modern battlefield can be affected in ways that are not necessarily violent and it draws heavily on important lessons from our commitments to operations in Afghanistan amongst others.

Recruitment for the brigade, 42 percent of whose personnel will be reservists, will begin this spring.

Its members will come from the Royal Navy and RAF as well as from the Army.



TorrentLocker has trapped 39,000 victims

mantrap Cybercriminals behind the TorrentLocker malware may have earned as much as $585,000 over several months from 39,000 PC infections.

But apparently more than 9,000 of the victims were from Australia thanks to a poisoned website which claimed to be the Australia Post newspaper.

TorrentLocker is one of several ransomware threats that have emerged in the wake law enforcement action against CryptoLocker earlier this year.

TorrentLocker demands payment of up to $1,500 in Bitcoin to unlock victim’s encrypted files. Whether victims pay depends on how much they value files.

Security vendor ESET said that the hackers behind TorrentLocker put extra effort into defrauding Australian computer users via a several bogus websites for Australia Post and the NSW Office of State Revenue.

The hackers were more successful Turkey which made 11,700 infections, but that country has a bigger population with less crocodiles. Italy, the UK, the Czech Republic, and Netherlands all had infections of between 4,500 and 2,280 each, which was also on the higher side.

Few victims actually paid. According to ESET researcher and author of the report, Marc-Etienne M.Léveillé, only 1.44 percent or 577 of the infections translated in to payment for the hackers. Still, based on the Bitcoin exchange rate of $384.94 on November 29, TorrentLocker’s operators may have earned between anywhere between $292,700 and $585,401, which is not bad money.

The PCs were infected by spam email that encourages the victim to open what appears to be a document but is in fact an executable file that will install the malware and encrypt the files.

Messages included tricking victims into opening files marked unpaid invoices, package tracking and unpaid speeding tickets.

“For example, if a victim is believed to be in Australia, fake package tracking information will be sent spoofed to appear as if it comes from Australia Post. The location of the potential victim can be determined by the top level domain used in the e-mail address of the target or the ISP to which it is referring,” ESET notes in its report.

The fake Australian domains the attackers have bought for the campaign include sites that look like the legitimate Australia Post domain austpost.com.au. These are austpost-tracking.com and austpost-tracking.org. Domains they have acquired to appear like the NSW Office of State Revenue’s real domain osr.nsw.gov.au include the bogus domains nsw-gov.net and osr-nsw-gov.net.

TorrentLocker’s “side task” is to steal the address book from email clients on the infected machine and contains code that enables this feature for Thunderbird, Outlook, Outlook Express and Windows Mail.

NATO goes nuclear on cyber option

wenn2114091NATO is going to revise its treaty so that a cyber attack on one of its members will count as a hostile threat for all of them.

The plan is that when President Obama meets with other NATO leaders later this week, they are expected to ratify the idea that a cyberattack on any of the 28 NATO nations could be declared an attack on all of them, similar to a ground invasion or an airborne bombing.

This should put the fear of god into Russia, which was believed behind computer attacks that disrupted financial and telecommunications systems in Estonia in 2007 and Georgia in 2008, and is believed to have used them in the early days of the Ukraine crisis as well.

NATO is a bit behind when it comes to cyber security, although it now has just built a nice new computer security centre.  It does run computer exercises but it possesses no cyberweapons of its own and has no cunning plan how it might use the weapons of member states to strike back in a computer conflict.

The United States and Britain, have spent billions of dollars on secret computer offensive programs but they have not told NATO leaders what kind of weapons they might contribute in a NATO-led computer conflict.

The change in NATO’s definition of an “armed attack” will leave deliberately unclear what would constitute a cyberattack so large that the alliance might think that this would be a declaration of war.

Apparently the alliance is hoping that the impact of the attack will help define the matter. Defence experts point out that deterrence is all about ambiguity, and the implicit threat that NATO would enter a computer conflict in defence of one of its members is full of those ambiguities.