DARPA Wants to Protect Critical Infrastructure From Cyber Attacks

DARPA believes it can protect critical infrastructure from cyber attacks using a brand new tool it has developed:

Hackers have been breaking through a lot of government agency’s defenses these past years, and DARPA thinks it’s high time to do something about it. Pentagon’s mad science division has launched a new program called Rapid Attack Detection, Isolation and Characterization (RADICS), which aims to develop innovative technologies that can quickly detect and respond to cyber attacks. Not just any cyber attacks, though: RADICS was specifically created to deflect security threats on critical infrastructures in the US, especially those that are vital to the Department of Defense’s missions. The agency likely wants to make sure the government can quickly detect and fight off terrorists and/or hackers trying to switch off the country’s electricity or transportation systems.

Paris Attacks Plot Required Little Technology, Was Hatched in Plain Sight

Terrorism is not a problem only technology can solve but one requiring strong police work:

The account emerging from French officials, witnesses and those who interacted with the suspected terrorists shows how the operation hinged on Mr. Abaaoud’s ability to use the tools of everyday modern life to lay the groundwork for the massacre. The ease with which he and his teams moved—all while avoiding detection by France’s security apparatus—suggests the challenges in identifying would-be terrorists and preventing further attacks in the fluid, digital and transnational world of today, especially when they are European citizens.

The array of car rentals, cellphones and online lodging reservations allowed Mr. Abaaoud to organize his militants as separate cells to ensure the plot wouldn’t unravel if one of the teams was compromised. Likewise, Mr. Abaaoud exploited Europe’s porous border system, sneaking stadium bombers into the continent amid the crush of Syrian refugees washing over Greece and tapping European nationals who could wield their own passports to move freely about the region.

Los Angeles Just Proposed the Worst Use of License Plate Reader Data in History

This is my hometown and I am stunned Los Angeles leadership believes this to be a viable option for preventing human trafficking (emphasis added):

Councilwoman Martinez feels that prostitution is not a “victimless” crime, and that by discouraging johns, the incidence of the crime can be reduced. Martinez told CBS Los Angeles, “If you aren’t soliciting, you have no reason to worry about finding one of these letters in your mailbox. But if you are, these letters will discourage you from returning. Soliciting for sex in our neighborhoods is not OK.

The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to ask the office of the City Attorney for their help implementing the plan.

Have Ms. Martinez and the Los Angeles City Council taken leave of their senses? This scheme makes, literally, a state issue out of legal travel to arbitrary places deemed by some — but not by a court, and without due process — to be “related” to crime in general, not to any specific crime.

There isn’t “potential” for abuse here, this is a legislated abuse of technology that is already controversial when it’s used by police for the purpose of seeking stolen vehicles, tracking down fugitives and solving specific crimes.

So What if Terrorists Use Strong Encryption? It Is Still Vital to the Safety of Our Nation

Potent essay in favor of strong encryption even though the US intelligence apparatus would like Americans to believe terrorists use it to hide their communications from law enforcement (demonstrably false in certain circumstances, such as Paris):

People who protect liberty have to take care not to imply, much less acknowledge, that the draconian anti-liberty measures advocated by the surveillance state crowd are justified, tactically or morally, no matter what the circumstances. Someday a terrorist will be known to have used strong encryption, and the right response will be: “Yes, they did, and we still have to protect strong encryption, because weakening it will make things worse.”

Why? Because encryption is actually a straightforward matter, no matter how much fear-mongering law enforcement officials and craven, willfully ignorant politicians spout about the need for a backdoor into protected communications. The choice is genuinely binary, according to an assortment of experts in the field. You can’t tamper this way with strong encryption without making us all less secure, because the bad guys will exploit the vulnerabilities you introduce in the process. This isn’t about security versus privacy; as experts have explained again and again, it’s about security versus security.

Moreover, as current and former law enforcement officials lead a PR parade for the surveillance-industrial complex, pushing again for pervasive surveillance, they ignore not just the practical problems with a “collect it all” regime — it drowns the spies in too much information to vet properly — but also the fundamental violation of liberty that it represents. These powers are always abused, and a society under surveillance all the time is a deadened one, as history amply shows.

Of course we need some surveillance, but in targeted ways. We want government to spy on enemies and criminal suspects, but with the checks and balances of specific judicial approval, not rubber stamps for collect-it-all by courts and Congress. The government already has lots of intrusive tools at its disposal when it wants to know what specific people are doing. But our Constitution has never given the government carte blanche to know everything or force people to testify against themselves, among other limits it establishes on power.

GCAT Is a Fully-Functional Malware Backdoor Leveraging Gmail as Its Command-and-Control Server

GCAT is a fully-functional malware backdoor leveraging Gmail as its command-and-control server:

There are many tools that allow to generate backdoors and they are used during a penetration testing program or security awareness where the presenter demonstrate how it is easy to have a full control on a remote vulnerable system.

The main purposes of backdoors is to create a connection to victim machine and run some commands remotely, send files to victim computer , rebooting the system or even modifying the system passwords. If you are looking for similar tool you can check GCAT.

GCAT is a fully featured backdoor that uses Gmail as a C&C server. All you have to do is to create a Gmail account that will be used to send instruction to remote system. This helps to cover track Also it will make your server up and reachable anytime without non standard ports that can be blocked by the firewall.

Anonymous Hacks ISIS Propaganda Site, Replaces It With Viagra Ad and Message to Calm Down

This is quite humorous:

Isis[sic] sites have been moving onto the dark web in an attempt not to be discovered. But a hacking group called Ghost Sec, which is related to Anonymous, took the site down and replaced it with a message telling readers that there was “Too Much ISIS”.

“Enhance your calm,” the full message read. “Too many people are into this ISIS-stuff. Please gaze upon this lovely ad so we can upgrade our infrastructure to give you ISIS content you all so desperately crave.”

The ad — which linked to an online pharmacy where payments can be made in bitcoin, and which appears to be hosted by the hacking group — would allow people to click through to by online prescription drugs, including Prozac and Viagra.

Not that I condone this type of behavior, nor that I believe this will have any lasting affects on ISIS, but it is funny nonetheless.

Nineteen Cops Simultaneously Respond to False Alarm, Terrorize Woman Because of Racist White Neighbor

This is just unbelievable and completely unjustified no matter what the Santa Monica Police Department would like everyone to believe:

I said it was only me and, hands still raised, slowly descended the stairs, focused on one officer’s eyes and on his pistol. I had never looked down the barrel of a gun or at the face of a man with a loaded weapon pointed at me. In his eyes, I saw fear and anger. I had no idea what was happening, but I saw how it would end: I would be dead in the stairwell outside my apartment, because something about me — a 5-foot-7, 125-pound black woman — frightened this man with a gun. I sat down, trying to look even less threatening, trying to de-escalate. I again asked what was going on. I confirmed there were no pets or people inside.

I told the officers I didn’t want them in my apartment. I said they had no right to be there. They entered anyway. One pulled me, hands behind my back, out to the street. The neighbors were watching. Only then did I notice the ocean of officers. I counted 16. They still hadn’t told me why they’d come.

It is unfortunate America has become so afraid these days that so many people are willing to sacrifice their humanity in the name of perceived safety.

Stop Being Fooled – Preventing Every Terrorist Attack Is Impossible

In the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks it is important to recognize a few important points as the media bombards the world with comments from scared politicians, especially in the United States more than anywhere. Like with any form of security, the primary operating foundation is risk management. This is in stark contrast to what the average citizen believes – the ability to prevent every terrorist attack.

Like in the ephemeral world of cyber security, it is impossible to stop every single attack, every day, from now through eternity. In cyber, attacks happen constantly – not a minute passes without some cyber weaponry being fired. Malicious actors continuously launch operations designed to disrupt or compromise their targets.

The differentiators in cyber are the low threshold to arm oneself, and the ability to attack without causing any form of physical harm. This makes it easy to constantly pull a so-called cyber trigger without ever needing to stop. People almost never face actual bodily harm.

The type of terrorism experienced in Paris causes actual physical harm, as we can all witness on the 24-hour news cycle. However, although one form of terrorism is kinetic and the other is not, they both are identical in one aspect: the ability to prevent every form of both malicious acts is unattainable. While the goal is lofty, it is impractical to believe security professionals are capable of thwarting every act of terrorism, no matter the form it takes.

We need to recognize the goal of terrorism is to scare people. However, by giving in to the terror by enacting laws and policies designed to drastically modify the American way of life, we allow the terrorists to win. This is what they want to happen – they want us to change. If we become more personally vigilant through education, rather than expecting our government to save us from future cowardly acts of murder, we win.

Do not let the media sway us from the truth: terrorism will continue no matter the loose or strict our laws we pass. Whether America – or other countries throughout the world – take additional steps towards the inevitable police state or not, there will be future acts of terrorism. They will happen in the United States or somewhere else in the world. It is inevitable. Why?

We cannot stop every act of terrorism. Nobody can. It is an impossible task, and something we should not expect of law enforcement and our intelligence agencies. Hindsight is absolutely 20/20, so it is easy to look back on an incident and theorize how it could have been prevented. In some cases that may be true, but mostly it is a false assumption.

The best thing we can do now is to continue living our lives as we always have – be the consummate American, but grow and learn from these terrorists. As in cyber security, our goal in fighting terrorism is to assume compromise but minimize the damage the malicious actors can inflict. There is a delicate balance between security and liberty; we should err on the side of liberty otherwise we lose and allow the terrorists to dictate the message.

That can never happen. We can, and will, overcome these trying times thanks to our resilience, so long as we keep our eye on what is important.

Raytheon Wins $1 Billion Cyber Security Contract to Battle Attacks on US Agencies

Raytheon wins $1 billion cyber security contract to battle attacks on US agencies:

The contract, one of the largest civilian cybersecurity orders in years, would help more than 100 federal civilian agencies protect their networks against malicious hackers, and it comes after the Office of Personnel Management suffered one of the most damaging breaches in history.

The OPM recently said that hackers stole the fingerprints of 5.6 million people, far more than previously thought. The attacks are believed to have affected more than 21 million former and current government employees, whose personal information, including Social Security numbers and information used in security clearances, may have been compromised.

The Obama administration has said it has made cybersecurity a top priority, and Congress has pushed to expand the nation’s defenses and make them more robust. The Pentagon is also taking steps to develop ways to fend off hackers, who often only have to find one crack in a network, while defenders have to guard the entire wall.

At a hearing on cybersecurity Tuesday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that in the past year, Iran, North Korea, China and Russia have all launched cyber­attacks on the United States. And he said the rate of the attacks has increased, “crippling or severely disrupting networks across the government and private sector and compromising sensitive national security information.”

He added: “Far more needs to be done to develop the necessary capabilities to deter attacks, fight and win in cyberspace.”

Second Russian Man Pleads Guilty of Largest Ever US Cyber Heist

A second Russian has plead guilty to the largest ever US cyber crime:

Prosecutors said that as far back as 2003, the men worked to install “sniffers” designed to comb through and steal data from computer networks of financial companies, payment processors and retailers.

Prosecutors said the defendants then used an array of computers to store and ultimately sell data they collected.

They said Smilianets was in charge of sales, selling data to trusted identity theft wholesalers, selling credit card numbers for $10 to $50 a piece depending on country of origin.

The scheme ultimately caused banks and credit card companies to suffer hundreds of millions in losses, including more than $300 million reported by three companies alone, prosecutors said.

Sixteen companies’ networks were infiltrated, including those of Nasdaq OMX Group Inc, 7-Eleven, France’s Carrefour SA, JC Penney Co, JetBlue Airways Corp, a Visa Inc licensee, and Heartland Payment Systems Inc, prosecutors said.

Smilianets faces up to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jerome Simandle on Jan. 13. His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.