Category Archives: Cyber War

Electric Grid Hacking More Perilous Than Election Hacking

Kremlin-connected cyber criminals are capable of turning off our electric power from afar, while power plant employees watch helplessly. In the last two weeks, the federal Department of Homeland Security held four briefings warning that Russian hackers are already practicing how to throw the switch and cause a blackout in the U.S. We’d have no lights, no gas at the pump, no life support in hospitals, no mass transit, no food supply.

Yet nearly all Washington pols are ignoring the danger. To the public, “power” means electricity. But to self-absorbed politicians, “power” means elections, votes, and protecting their seats. That disconnect explains why they’re in a frenzy over Russians hacking into campaign email accounts and tweeting unflattering things about Hillary Clinton, instead of dealing with the far larger peril of Russians hacking into the electric grid.

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Russian hackers could have caused massive power outages

Russian hackers managed to infiltrate the control rooms of US utility companies — where they could have easily “thrown switches” and caused power outages, according federal officials.

Members of the notorious cyber espionage group “Dragonfly” or “Energetic Bear” were reportedly behind the hack, which first came to light earlier this year.

Department of Homeland Security officials told the Wall Street Journal on Monday that the group gained access to a series of highly-secured, “air-gapped” networks owned by the electric utilities in the spring of 2016 — and were likely still trying to access them today.

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The Pentagon Is Building a Dream Team of Tech-Savvy Soldiers

NICOLE CAMARILLO WAS touring the Army base at Fort Meade, Maryland, in early 2017 when a young captain—I’ll call him Matt, due to the sensitivity of his position—crossed her path.

I’ve got to talk to that kid, Camarillo remembers thinking. Just weeks before, she’d seen Matt deliver a presentation on a tool he was developing to counter enemy drone strikes in the Middle East. The technology, he explained, was being developed on a “shoestring budget.”

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‘Catastrophic disaster’: Aircraft hack only matter of time, US agencies warn

It is “only a matter of time” until a commercial aircraft is hacked, the Department of Homeland Security and other US government agencies have warned. Most planes lack cybersecurity protections to prevent such a hack.

Motherboard obtained internal DHS documents through a Freedom of Information Act request which detail vulnerabilities with commercial aircraft and risk assessments. A number of the documents are still being “withheld pursuant to exemption” of the FOIA.

The release includes a January presentation from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), part of the Department of Energy, outlining the group’s efforts to hack an aircraft via its wifi service as a security test.

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Inside the Internet Research Agency: a Mole Among Trolls

ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA — Vitaly Bespalov, a 23-year-old journalism school graduate, had no idea what to expect when he arrived at a nondescript four-story business center in St. Petersburg to interview for a job.

Everything about the building at Savushkina 55 seemed odd. Security was heavy and the windows were tinted. Guards dressed in camouflage demanded his passport and his home address before letting him into the building. And, as he negotiated his entry, Bespalov noticed a woman enter the lobby in a rage.

“She was yelling something about how she refused to be part of this,” says Bespalov. “Everything about the place was strange.”

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Could Russia and West be heading for cyber-war?

The latest warning of Russian intrusions is another sign that cyber-space is becoming one of the focal points for growing tension between Russia and the West.

But so far, much of the talk about cyber-war remains hypothetical rather than real.

It is true that Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is on high alert for the possibility of some kind of Russian activity. More people and resources have been devoted to monitoring and investigation.

There has also been outreach to companies to warn them on what to look out for and what to do.

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Russian Hackers Attacked U.S. Aviation as Part of Breaches

Russian hackers attempted to penetrate the U.S. civilian aviation industry early in 2017 as part of the broad assault on the nation’s sensitive infrastructure.

The attack had limited impact and the industry has taken steps to prevent a repeat of the intrusion, Jeff Troy, executive director of the Aviation Information Sharing and Analysis Center, said Friday. Troy wouldn’t elaborate on the nature of the breach and declined to identify specific companies or the work that was involved.

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North Korea steps up cyber powers with shadowy ‘Reaper’ hacker group

North Korea is stepping up its cyber capabilities to target international aerospace and defence industries through a shadowy and sophisticated hackers group called Reaper, a new report revealed on Tuesday.

The group, also known as APT37, was identified in research by American private security company FireEye, which tracks cyber-attackers around the world.

They reported that it is using malware to infiltrate computer networks and now represents “an advanced persistent threat” that has dramatically increased the reach of North Korea’s already formidable cyber operations

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The tactics of a Russian troll farm

The indictment of 13 Russians charged with attempting to manipulate American voters using social media shines a fascinating light on a sophisticated, relentless operation to exploit the internet for political gain. Here’s how US investigators say the Russians did it.

It was 2014, and in a building in St Petersburg, the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) was already hard at work building its arsenal to take on US politics.

According to US prosecutors, the IRA had gathered stolen identities of real Americans, and a formidable encyclopaedia of what “works” on social media when it comes to riling up Americans talking about politics. Two members of the agency were said to have travelled to the US to gather more intelligence, a fact-finding tour taking in nine states, according to investigators.

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‘Fancy Bear’ hackers took aim at US defense contractors

WASHINGTON (AP) — Russian cyberspies pursuing the secrets of military drones and other sensitive U.S. defense technology tricked key contract workers into exposing their email to theft, an Associated Press investigation has found.

What ultimately may have been stolen is uncertain, but the hackers clearly exploited a national vulnerability in cybersecurity: poorly protected email and barely any direct notification to victims.

The hackers known as Fancy Bear, who also intruded in the U.S. election, went after at least 87 people working on militarized drones, missiles, rockets, stealth fighter jets, cloud-computing platforms or other sensitive activities, the AP found.

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Fitness tracking app Strava gives away location of secret US army bases

Sensitive information about the location and staffing of military bases and spy outposts around the world has been revealed by a fitness tracking company.

The details were released by Strava in a data visualisation map that shows all the activity tracked by users of its app, which allows people to record their exercise and share it with others.

The map, released in November 2017, shows every single activity ever uploaded to Strava – more than 3 trillion individual GPS data points, according to the company. The app can be used on various devices including smartphones and fitness trackers like Fitbit to see popular running routes in major cities, or spot individuals in more remote areas who have unusual exercise patterns.

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Dutch Spies Infiltrated Russian Hacking Unit Before DNC Attack

Dutch intelligence services had eyes and ears for years on the Russian outfit that hacked the Democratic National Committee, even infiltrating a surveillance camera at the Cozy Bear headquarters and recording hackers’ faces, Dutch media reported.

That trove of intelligence gathered by the Netherlands since 2014 has been crucial to the U.S. investigation into the Russian campaign influence operation, the reports from Nieuwsuur and Volkskrant said.

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Cyber-attack risk on nuclear weapons systems ‘relatively high’ – thinktank

US, British and other nuclear weapons systems are increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks, according to a new study by the international relations thinktank Chatham House.

The threat has received scant attention so far from those involved in nuclear military planning and the procurement of weapons, the report said.

It blames this partly on failure to keep up with fast-moving advances, lack of skilled staff and the slowness of institutional change.

“Nuclear weapons systems were developed before the advancement of computer technology and little consideration was given to potential cyber vulnerabilities. As a result, current nuclear strategy often overlooks the widespread use of digital technology in nuclear systems,” the authors of the study said.

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