A Virginia software company specializing in cloud-based solutions has agreed to be acquired by private equity firm Thoma Bravo.
Exostar was developed as a joint venture between some of the world’s leading businesses, including BAE Systems, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Rolls-Royce, and, more recently, Merck.
Initially formed as a B2B aerospace and defense industry exchange, the company’s secure platform now serves over 150,000 organizations in over 150 different countries in not only aerospace and defense, but the life sciences and healthcare markets as well.
After 20 years of joint-venture ownership by five global aerospace and defense industry leaders and one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, Exostar has reached an agreement to be acquired by Thoma Bravo.
A spokesperson for Exostar said that the owners “whose careful guidance has been integral to Exostar’s success”—BAE Systems, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Merck, Raytheon Technologies, and Rolls-Royce—will “remain actively engaged as valued customers and trusted advisors.”
Exostar CEO and president Richard Addi said that the planned transaction “reflects the logical next step in our company’s evolution.”
“Thoma Bravo’s strategic investment positions us to more rapidly expand our community and deliver the digital trust that must exist between an enterprise and its suppliers, customers and partners,” said Addi.
“We can leverage Thoma Bravo’s deep technology and security experience to take full advantage of our unique market position. Together, we plan to accelerate time-to-market for the Exostar suite of solutions that enable global enterprises to execute their mission-critical supply chain and drug development initiatives.”
Carl Press, a principal at Thoma Bravo, said the PE firm was thrilled to partner with Addi and the Exostar team.
“Exostar’s identity access management and secure collaboration software is utilized by some of the most respected and well-known enterprise customers in aerospace and defense, life sciences and healthcare,” said Press.
“The company’s understanding of complex organizations’ procurement and collaboration needs is a key differentiator inherent in its products.”
Thoma Bravo said it was hoping to expand Exostar's capabilities, particularly in the realm of cybersecurity.
The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Enterprise mobile phishing encounters increased by 37% in the first quarter of 2020 compared with quarter four of 2019, according to the Lookout 2020 State of Mobile Phishing Spotlight Report. The rate of growth was especially high in North America, at 66.3%, exacerbated by the unprecedented rise in people working from home due to the COVID-19 crisis.
While the authors acknowledged that organizations have sought to combat the threat of phishing by educating employees and deploying email phishing security software, cyber-criminals have increasingly been targeting mobile devices. Using this method, phishing risks no longer need to simply hide in email, they can instead target users through SMS, messaging apps and social media platforms. This is a particular issue at the moment, with many employees working remotely using personal devices such as smartphones and tablets to be productive.
In addition, Lookout noted that detecting the characteristics of a phishing link via mobile is harder than with email due to having a smaller form factor and simplified user experience. This results in a higher success rate for cyber-criminals attacking mobile devices compared to desktops.
“Phishing has evolved into a massive problem that expands far beyond the traditional email bait and hook,” explained Phil Hochmuth, program vice-president of enterprise mobility at IDC. “On a small screen and with a limited ability to vet links and attachments before clicking on them, consumers and business users are exposed to more phishing risks than ever before. In a mobile-first world, with remote work becoming the norm, proactive defense against these attacks is critical.”
The report also calculated that unmitigated mobile phishing threats have the potential to cost businesses with 50,000 mobile devices up to $150m per incident.
David Richardson, vice-president of product management at Lookout, commented: “Smartphones and tablets are trusted devices that sit at the intersection of their owner’s personal and professional identity. Cyber-criminals are exploiting the ability to socially engineer victims on their mobile device in order to steal their credentials or sensitive private data.”
The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted how home working makes organizations particularly vulnerable to phishing campaigns.
With the acquisition, Thycotic adds three new products to its PAM portfolio to further protect enterprise cloud apps and ensure remote worker productivity.
Commenting on the deal, James Legg, president and CEO at Thycotic, said that with the sudden growth of remote workforces across the globe, privileged access security controls must account for ordinary business users who are accessing sensitive and privileged corporate data from untrusted devices on untrusted networks.
“With the addition of Onion ID, we are now able to implement fine-tuned role-based access controls across any web-based application, IaaS console and cloud-hosted database, while providing flexible multi-factor authentication that gives security leaders a significantly easier way to ensure secure access paths for remote employees,” Legg added.
Anirban Banerjee, CEO and founder, Onion ID, said: “By joining forces with Thycotic, we are enhancing our commitment to delivering user-friendly authentication, authorization and auditing to cloud servers, databases and applications. We are launching a diverse set of next-generation PAM 2.0 offerings in the market which will enable enterprise customers to elevate their security controls above and beyond current best of breed solutions and reduce costs with secure remote access.”
Financial terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed but, as part of the transaction, Onion ID will operate under Thycotic brand and leadership.
The fourth year of the government-backed online cybersecurity training program Cyber Discovery will begin earlier than planned.
Capitalizing on the thousands of young people who are currently unable to attend school, Cyber Discovery officially opened registration today to allow students to take part at home.
Aimed at 13-18-year-olds, led by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and delivered by global IT security training organization SANS Institute, Cyber Discovery allows participants to participate in their own time and is comprised of four phases: an initial assessment stage called CyberStart Assess, CyberStart Game and CyberStart Essentials, designed to enhance the skills of those who have made it through the initial assessment stage.
The CyberStart Assess phase will begin during the summer, and those successful participants will qualify for the advanced learning phases of the program beginning in October.
Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: “This initiative gives teenagers something fun and educational to do from home and provides a glimpse into the life of a cybersecurity professional.
“We have a world-leading cyber-sector protecting the country and our digital economy and we must continue to inspire the next generation of talent to help maintain this position. As the assessment phase opens I encourage all teens who enjoy a challenge to put their skills to the test."
James Lyne, CTO at SANS Institute and co-creator of the program, said the third year of the Cyber Discovery program saw many highly talented young people take part, many of whom are now motivated to pursue a career in cybersecurity. “With so many young people spending time away from school as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, we were happy to bring forward the all-new assessment phase of the 2020/21 program.
“This is an ideal opportunity for students to put their problem-solving skills to the test with a range of fun, interactive challenges where they’ll get to try out cracking codes and solving tricky problems. Those that are successful will then go on to enhance their skills in the core stages of Cyber Discovery. The UK needs cyber-defenders and technologists to secure our increasingly digital future. Help us get young people involved and let’s see if they have what it takes!”
Security experts are warning of a potential deluge of mobile SMS-based phishing (smishing) attacks as the UK’s Test and Trace service launches to mitigate a potential second wave of COVID-19 infections.
The government scheme will require contact tracers to proactively reach out via email, text or phone call to anyone they believe has been in contact with someone with the virus, to ask them to self-isolate.
The NHS has said that anyone contacted in this way “will not be asked to provide any passwords, bank account details or PIN numbers” or asked to download anything. However, they may require full name, date of birth, sex, NHS Number, home postcode and house number, telephone number and email address — more than enough to craft highly effective follow-on attacks and identity fraud.
There are therefore fears that especially older and more vulnerable members of society may still be tricked into handing over their details or unwittingly downloading malware.
In fact, experts are already warning of unsolicited text messages claiming the recipient may have been in contact with a COVID sufferer and urging them to click through on a malicious link to find out more.
Bogus text messages were also sent out during the trial of the UK's contact tracing app on the Isle of Wight.
One UK-based social engineering company, The AntiSocial Engineer, explained in a blog post over the weekend how easy it is to register legitimate-looking but fake domains and spoof Sender IDs to launch a smishing campaign.
“We have closely followed SMS-based scams since our company was founded and sadly many contributing factors seem to be exacerbating text message fraud. One key trend is that email security is getting better and it’s harder for criminals to reach the inboxes and conduct phishing scams,” he explained.
“SMS is the perfect solution to this problem as only the bare minimum is being done in this sector to stop fraudsters. Messages land straight in the target’s inbox all the same. Criminals can reach out to thousands of people at once and if you don’t understand about Sender ID spoofing you are an easy target.”
RSA Security’s district manager UK & Ireland, Ben Tuckwell, argued that UK adults are “sitting ducks” for such scams, that exploit a heightened sense of concern over the virus.
“Consumers can protect themselves by acting smart and pausing to consider each communication they receive, while remembering the three key smishing don’ts: don’t respond to texts from unknown or unusual numbers; don’t click on any links in text messages; and don’t share any banking information, usernames or passwords or other personal details after receiving a text message, unless you can verify who you are speaking with,” he added.
A new survey from iProov out today reveals that a quarter (26%) of Brits feel more vulnerable to hackers as a result of COVID-19.
Law enforcement activity over recent years is eroding trust on the dark web and forcing cyber-criminals to try new tactics, according to new Trend Micro research.
The security vendor’s latest report, Shifts in Underground Markets, charts changes over the past five years, which has seen the takedowns of numerous marketplaces including Evolution, AlphaBay and Hansa.
Trend Micro found widespread concern among cyber-criminals frequenting such sites that police may be monitoring them or the administrators themselves may try an exit scam. Others complained of login problems and frequent DDoS attacks, which may also stem from law enforcement efforts.
In the absence of a stable and secure forum to advertise their wares, some cyber-criminals are taking to gaming comms platform Discord and e-commerce platform Shoppy.gg to buy and sell.
Trend Micro principal security strategist, Bharat Mistry, argued that the firm expects to see new tools and techniques flood dark web sites going forward.
“AI will be at the centre of these efforts. Just as it’s being used by Trend Micro and other companies to root out fraud, sophisticated malware and phishing, it could be deployed in bots designed to predict roll patterns on gambling sites. It could also be used in deepfake services developed to help buyers bypass photo ID systems, or launch sextortion campaigns against individuals,” he explained.
“Some emerging trends are less hi-tech but no less damaging. Access to devices, systems and accounts is so common today that we’re already seeing it spun out in ‘as-a-service’ cybercrime offerings. Prices for access to Fortune 500 companies can hit as much as $10,000.”
A security researcher has been awarded $100,000 by Apple after disclosing a critical flaw in the firm’s sign-in process for third-party sites.
Bhavuk Jain discovered the zero-day bug in Sign in with Apple, the Cupertino giant’s supposedly more privacy-centric version of Login with Facebook and Sign in with Google.
The system works in a similar way to OAuth 2.0: users can be authenticated with either a JSON Web Token (JWT), or a code generated by an Apple server which is then used to generate a JWT.
Once the authorization request has been submitted, Apple provides the user with an option, to share their Apple Email ID with the third-party app they’re trying to sign-in to, or not.
“If the user decides to hide the Email ID, Apple generates its own user-specific Apple relay Email ID. Depending upon the user selection, after successful authorization, Apple creates a JWT which contains this Email ID which is then used by the third-party app to login a user,” explained Jain.
“I found I could request JWTs for any Email ID from Apple and when the signature of these tokens was verified using Apple’s public key, they showed as valid. This means an attacker could forge a JWT by linking any Email ID to it and gaining access to the victim’s account.”
The repercussions are pretty serious: an attacker could have used this technique to effect a full takeover of user accounts.
Jain warned that, if popular third-party apps such as Dropbox, Spotify and Airbnb didn’t put in place their own authentication security measures, their users may have been exposed by the bug.
“Apple also did an investigation of their logs and determined there was no misuse or account compromise due to this vulnerability,” he explained.
The researcher received the money by disclosing responsibly to the Apple Security Bounty Program.
Guernsey is to benefit from a major performance upgrade and security enhancement to its telecom network.
British technology and network services company Telent Technology Services Ltd. (telent) has been awarded a contract by Sure to upgrade the service provider’s core network.
Under the contract, Telent will replace Sure’s existing 10G core network with a 100G Juniper Networks core network. The upgrade is being undertaken to allow Sure to deliver faster, more reliable internet connectivity to its consumer and business customers across the island as increasing bandwidth usage and data consumption create what Telent described as "unprecedented demand."
“Growing data consumption means demand for higher network capacity and speed is growing and service providers must ensure they are delivering on that,” said Shani Latif, sales director at Telent.
“This upgrade for Sure will incorporate the latest technologies to ensure a future-proof network, while our experience and knowledge of the service provider market will minimize customer disruption and ensure work is completed efficiently.”
Once complete, the move to 100G will produce benefits to folks beyond the island's sandy beaches and picturesque bays. As a core network, it will also deliver increased capacity to London and Paris, connecting the Channel Islands to the rest of the world.
The upgrade will provide extra capacity for growth, future-proofing the network as growing and new technologies, including Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) and 5G, are rolled out commercially.
Mindful of the need for cybersecurity, Telent will implement a joint Juniper-Corero Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) solution to provide real-time, automated DDoS protection.
Sure Group CEO Ian Kelly said that ensuring people can stay connected is more important than ever as the COVID-19 health crisis limps on.
“The current situation is a clear reminder that telecoms are a key and growing component of our economy and daily lives,” said Kelly.
“This network upgrade is a significant long-term investment to ensure we can continue to meet customer expectations now and in the future. We are pleased to be working with Telent which has a long history and strong reputation in the design, upgrade, build and maintenance of critical networks.”
Work on the project has already started and is expected to be completed by early 2021.
Police and city websites in Minneapolis have come under cyber-attack as both lawful protests and illegal rioting continue across America.
The nationwide social upheaval was triggered by the death of Houston native George Floyd in the city a week ago. Floyd died after 44-year-old police officer Derek Chauvin arrested him and kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes despite the handcuffed man's pleas that he could not breathe.
Floyd, who had recently lost his job due to the COVID-10 pandemic, was arrested after allegedly using forged money to pay a bill at a grocery store.
Following Floyd's tragic death, filmed by bystanders who sadly let the chance to intervene slip through their fingers, Chauvin was fired from his job. The former cop was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on May 29.
Chauvin's arrest has not put an end to the peaceful protests inspired by the police officer's failure to uphold a sworn promise to protect and serve the public. Nor has it doused the outbreaks of looting and vandalism that have seen American businesses, churches, and educational establishments raided, torched, and destroyed.
Some of the city of Minneapolis' public websites and systems were hit by a cyber-attack on Thursday morning. A city spokesperson told The Hill that a denial of service (DoS) attack had resulted in the temporary shutdown of some websites and systems.
Within hours of the incident, 95% of affected systems and sites were back up and running. It is not known whether the attack was specifically linked to the protests over Floyd's death or simply timed to exploit a city in turmoil.
“Although these types of attacks are not completely unavoidable, they are fairly common, and the City of Minneapolis has proactive measures in place to respond to and mitigate disruptions when they do occur,” the spokesperson said.
“The City of Minneapolis IT continues to monitor its cyber platforms to ensure further disruption doesn't happen again.”
A DoS attack was also levied at the state level. In a news briefing delivered yesterday, Minnesota governor Tim Walz said Minnesota's computers were assaulted on Saturday night.
"Before our operation kicked off last night, a very sophisticated denial of service attack on all state computers was executed," said Walz.
A major data breach at mobile payment app Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) has exposed the personal and financial data of millions of Indians.
The breach occurred after BHIM failed to securely store vast swathes of data collected from users and businesses during a sign-up campaign.
On April 23, researchers at vpnMentor made the alarming discovery that all the data related to the campaign was publicly accessible after being stored in a misconfigured Amazon Web Services S3 bucket.
"The scale of the exposed data is extraordinary, affecting millions of people all over India and exposing them to potentially devastating fraud, theft, and attack from hackers and cybercriminals," wrote researchers.
Data exposed in the breach included scans of Ardaar cards (India’s national ID cards), Caste certificates, professional and educational certificates, photos used as proof of residence, Permanent Account Number (PAN) cards associated with Indian income tax services, and screenshots captured within financial and banking apps as proof of fund transfers—all documents needed to open a BHIM account.
Private personal user data contained within these documents included names, dates of birth, age, gender, home address, Caste status, religion, biometric details, fingerprint scans, ID photos, and ID numbers for government programs and social security services.
Over 7 million records dating from February 2019 were exposed, some of which belonged to people aged under 18 years old.
After investigating the breach, vpnMentor's team found 409 GB of data stored insecurely by BHIM, which operates via the website www.cscbhim.in. Researchers traced the bucket back to BHIM as it was labeled “csc-bhim.”
Researchers informed BHIM of their discovery but did not receive a response, so contacted India’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In).
"Many weeks later, we contacted CERT-In a second time," wrote researchers. "Shortly thereafter, the breach was closed."
The Indian mobile payment app was launched in 2016 to facilitate instant e-payments and money transfers between bank accounts via a user's smartphone. By 2020, the popular app had been downloaded 136 million times, according to non-profit business consortium, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
An Australian football fan site has been found leaking 70 million records, including users’ personal details and racist private messages, via an unprotected Elasticsearch instance.
The 132GB leak was discovered by SafetyDetectives researchers led by Anurag Sen and is linked to BigFooty.com, a website and mobile app dedicated to Aussie Rules Football, which has around 100,000 members.
Although the information found in the leak wasn’t always personally identifiable as users are mainly anonymous, some of the private messages seen by the researchers contained email addresses, mobile phone numbers and usernames and passwords for the site and live streams.
If discovered by cyber-criminals probing for misconfigured databases, the latter may have been useful for credential stuffing attacks on other sites.
Some user messages featured in the leak contained personal threats and racist content, which could be used by hackers to blackmail the individuals, SafetyDetectives argued.
“Private messages are fully exposed in the leak and can be traced back to specific users. This includes some high-profile users such as Australian police officers and government employees,” it said.
“Private information belonging to such individuals, including chat transcripts and email addresses, were found on the database which thereby creates a significant vulnerability in terms of potential blackmail and other reputational damage that could be caused.”
Technical data relating to the site including IP addresses, access logs, server and OS information and GPS data were also leaked, potentially allowing hackers to compromise other parts of the IT infrastructure, the firm added.
Although BigFooty didn’t respond to outreach from Sen and his team, the leak was closed shortly after they contacted government agency the Australian Cyber Security Center.
The Trump administration is reportedly accelerating plans to ban Chinese students with military ties from attending university in the US, as Beijing prepares its own national security law for Hong Kong.
American officials with knowledge of the discussions at the top of government told the New York Times that the long-mooted plan would involve cancelling student visas for Chinese students who took their undergraduate courses at military-affiliated institutions back home.
The fear is that many of these individuals may be actively selected by the Chinese government, and required to collect information from the research projects they end up working on. There’s a double threat from those same graduates then landing jobs at high-profile US tech companies and continuing their espionage activities.
It’s unclear how widespread the practice actually is, and students engaged in wrongdoing would certainly try to hide their affiliation.
Back in January, the Department of Justice (DoJ) indicted a People’s Liberation Army lieutenant who lied about her background and secured a position studying at Boston University’s (BU) Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biomedical Engineering from October 2017 to April 2019. There, she allegedly stole info for military research projects and profiled US scientists for her bosses.
Estimates suggest only around 3000 individuals would be affected by the mooted plans out of a potential 360,000 Chinese students in the US, although if they are formally announced it would come at a significant juncture.
Washington is currently mulling how to respond to Beijing’s newly announced plans to force a national security law on Hong Kong, which would allow China’s fearsome secret police to be stationed in the supposedly semi-autonomous region.
Rebecca Bernhard, partner at international law firm Dorsey & Whitney, explained that the US plans only affect those on F and J visas, although more may be caught up in trying to prove themselves innocent.
“Due to the scrutiny to determine which students will be suspended from entry, all students and scholars will face a lot of questions and the burden will likely be on the students and scholars to document that their research program is not subject to the bar – it appears the presumption is that the bar applies and the student or scholar will need to document that it does not,” she argued.
“Unfortunately, this suggests to me that there will be even more delays at US consulates when they finally re-open for all Chinese graduate students and scholars in engineering."
Amtrak has revealed that some customers may have had their personal information and log-ins stolen after it detected unauthorized access of rewards accounts by a third party.
Also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, the state-backed US transportation provider revealed the news in a regulatory filing with the Office of the Vermont Attorney General.
“On the evening of April 16, 2020, Amtrak determined that an unknown third party gained unauthorized access to certain Amtrak Guest Rewards accounts,” it noted. “We have determined that compromised usernames and passwords were used to access certain accounts and some personal information may have been viewed. No financial data, credit card information or Social Security numbers were compromised.”
The statement claimed that Amtrak’s IT security team terminated the unauthorized access “within a few hours,” reset passwords for affected accounts and hired outside security experts to contain the incident and put safeguards in place.
The firm is also offering affected customers a free year’s membership for the Experian IdentityWorks fraud monitoring service, although such offerings only flag suspicious account activity after the event and won’t be able to stop the potential follow-on phishing attacks that could target users.
It’s unclear how the attacker got hold of Amtrak Guest Reward usernames and passwords in the first place, although the credentials may have been breached in another incident and were being reused by customers across multiple sites/accounts.
This isn’t the first time the railroad giant has been forced to alert the authorities about a suspected breach. In 2018, it revealed that service provider Orbitz had suffered a security incident exposing customers’ personal information.
A year later, critical vulnerabilities were discovered in the Amtrak mobile application which researchers said could lead to a data breach of at least six million Amtrak Guest Rewards accounts.
It’s unclear how many passengers were affected in the latest data breach incident.
The 40-year-old one-time CEO of a Utah tech company is serving a custodial sentence after downloading over 13,000 images of child sexual abuse, bestiality, and rape.
Douglas Eugene Saltsman was sentenced yesterday to 210 days in prison and 48 months of probation by Utah 3rd District Judge Douglas Hogan after being convicted on three felony charges of sexual exploitation of a minor.
Addressing the virtual court, Saltsman said he had sought help from a psychiatrist after recognizing that he had illegal sexual tendencies.
The former CEO of the now defunct blockchain and cryptocurrency company Saltmine said he was unable to control himself despite being put on medication and enrolled in therapy.
Utah's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force raided Saltsman's Sandy home on May 7 last year. A search of his laptop, computer, an SD card, and an SSD storage device turned up more than 13,000 files containing images of graphic sexual abuse.
One of the files consisted of a compilation video of girls from the ages of 3 to 8 years old being bound and raped. The files were seized and sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s law enforcement clearinghouse in a bid to identify the victims.
Saltsman initially faced 11 felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, but in March 2020 he agreed to plead guilty to three felonies in exchange for the dismissal of the remaining seven charges.
Under the terms of the deal, Saltsman could only be handed the maximum recommended sentence for a first-time offender set 14 years ago by the Utah Sentencing Commission—210 days in jail and four years on probation.
An online petition to recall Judge Hogan has been signed by 114,000 people who felt Saltsman's sentence was too lenient and were presumably unaware of the agreed-upon deal.
Saltsman's sentencing comes just weeks after the former director of operations for Salt Lake City Airport, 69-year-old Randall Darwood Berg, was charged with 25 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.
Berg, of Draper, is accused of possessing approximately 50,000 images of child sexual abuse. His residence was searched following the submission of eight separate Cybertip reports to the NCMEC alleging Berg was storing illegal files on a Google Photo account.
The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) is to create and lead a new federal digital research institute that will devise ways to shield America's manufacturers from cyber-threats.
In addition to assisting US industry in blocking cyber-attacks, the Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CyManII) will explore how to help manufacturers achieve energy efficiency.
Other areas of focus will include supporting technical innovation, job creation, and assisting manufacturers to be more competitive.
The National Security Collaboration Center (NSCC) at UTSA, with more than 25,000 square feet of space, has been dedicated as the home base for CyManII.
Explaining why UTSA was chosen for the institute, James Milliken, chancellor for the UT system said: “We selected UTSA to lead CyManII due to the university’s well-known strengths in cybersecurity and national connectivity in this space.”
In order to bring the project to life, UTSA will receive $70m over a five-year period under a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Energy.
The UT system will inject an additional $10m into the institute, and a further $30m will be contributed by other cost-sharing partners.
“CyManII leverages the unique research capabilities of the Idaho, Oak Ridge and Sandia National Laboratories as well as critical expertise across our partner cyber manufacturing ecosystem,” said UTSA president Taylor Eighmy. “We look forward to formalizing our partnership with the DOE to advance cybersecurity in energy-efficient manufacturing for the nation.”
Building a national program for education and workforce development, securing automation, and securing the supply-chain network are three high-priority areas on which CyManII will focus its national strategy.
“As United States manufacturers increasingly deploy automation tools in their daily work, those technologies must be embedded with powerful cybersecurity protections,” said Howard Grimes, CyManII chief executive officer and associate vice president and associate vice provost for institutional initiatives at UTSA.
“UTSA has assembled a team of best-in-class national laboratories, industry, nonprofit and academic organizations to cyber-secure the US manufacturing enterprise. Together, we will share the mission to protect the nation’s supply chains, preserve its critical infrastructure and boost its economy.”
The UK government has today launched a program to incentivize the creation of design schemes that test the security of Internet of things (IoT) products. Under the initiative, innovators are encouraged to bid for funding from a pot of £400,000 to create more assurance schemes, which ultimately aims to boost the security of consumer-smart products.
Assurance schemes are vital in the IoT product market, as they prove that a device has undergone independent testing or a robust and accredited self-assessment process. Their importance is set to grow, with an estimated 75 billion internet connected devices, such as televisions, cameras and home assistants, to be in homes around the world by the end of 2025.
It is hoped the program will provide manufacturers with a variety of options to choose from in testing their consumer-smart products in accordance with the UK’s Code of Practice for Consumer IoT Security. An increase in these assurance schemes will also assist retailers in stocking secure IoT devices and customers in making security-conscious purchasing decisions.
Digital Minister Matt Warman, from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) commented: “We are committed to making the UK the safest place to be online and are developing laws to make sure robust security standards for consumer internet-connected products are built in from the start.
“This new funding will allow shoppers to be sure the products they are buying have better cybersecurity and help retailers be confident they are stocking secure smart products.”
Commenting on the announcement, Jake Moore, cybersecurity specialist at ESET, said: “This comes at a time when IoT seems to have been forgotten about, yet funding to support the security of such devices couldn’t be more vital. Many people favor convenience over security so it’s paramount that IoT devices come fitted with security by design, to help protect the devices and customers. This is usually where the manufacturers choose cutting costs over the protection of the end users, which in turn puts the users at risk of a range of potential attacks. Hopefully this will be the beginning of more funding as I’m not sure how far this initial input will go.”
The move comes amid other initiatives being taken by the UK government to combat cybercrime. These include legislation to bring in minimum security requirements for smart devices, and last month the government launched the ‘Cyber Aware’ campaign to advise people on protecting passwords, accounts and devices.
Warman added: “People should continue to change default passwords on their smart devices and regularly update software to help protect themselves from cyber-criminals.”
Seniors in Alabama are being given the chance to learn about cybersecurity free of charge thanks to the University of Alabama.
Usually, OLLI courses are delivered in a traditional classroom setting; however, all in-person programming has been suspended in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. To keep adult education services up and running, courses are now being taught via the video-conferencing app Zoom.
OLLI director Jennifer Anderson said: “OLLI is privileged to be in a position to provide educational and social opportunities online for its members and the community, some of whom are the most vulnerable to coronavirus and may be among the last of our citizens to emerge from their homes, even as social distancing guidelines are lifted in our community."
Anderson said adults aged over 50 were just as much in need of social and intellectual stimulation as any other group in society, especially while lockdown measures remain in place.
“Our members, like everyone else, can only spend so much time alone, cleaning their homes and reading,” said Anderson. “They need their social network, and interactive online classes provide that along with intellectual aspects.”
OLLI's wide-ranging courses cover everything from shadow wars of tariffs and sanctions with Iran to arthritis exercises and awareness and the love stories that made history.
Courses are developed by OLLI’s curriculum committee and based on newsworthy topics, events that changed history, or useful skills to have in the modern world. Tutors are chosen by the committee from a pool of experts, educators, and professionals.
Anderson said that instead of simply logging on and viewing pre-recorded video content, mature students who take advantage of free OLLI courses are encouraged to actively engage with the learning process.
“We hope viewers will experience the education, entertainment and social benefits,” Anderson said.
“OLLI students will not just ‘view’ their classes. They will participate because the classes are synchronous. Participants can speak in class and the instructors can have discussions in addition to the lectures provided.”
Most organizations are not sufficiently prepared to securely support remote working even though 84% intend to continue this practice beyond COVID-19 lockdowns, according to Bitglass’ 2020 Remote Workforce Report. The survey of IT professionals found that 41% of businesses have not taken any steps to expand secure access for the remote workforce, while 65% are allowing personal devices to access managed applications.
The study was undertaken to better understand how well businesses were prepared, from a cybersecurity perspective, for the sudden surge in remote working as a result of the pandemic.
Of those surveyed, 50% said lack of proper equipment was the biggest barrier to providing secure access for employees working from home. The types of applications that organizations were most concerned about securing were file sharing (68%), web applications (47%) and video conferencing (45%).
Malware was listed as the most concerning threat vector related to remote working by IT professionals (72%), followed by unauthorized user access (59%). Unsurprisingly, anti-malware was the most utilized security tool for remote work, at 77%. However, there was a lack of deployment of tools like single sign-on (45%), data loss prevention (18%) and user and entity behaviour analytics (11%).
“This research indicates that many organizations are not implementing the security measures necessary to protect their data in the current business environment,” commented Anurag Kahol, CTO of Bitglass. “For example, while respondents said that the pandemic has accelerated the migration of user workflows and applications to the cloud, most are not employing cloud security solutions like single sign-on, data loss prevention, zero trust network access or cloud access security brokers.
“On top of that, 84% of organizations reported that they are likely to continue to support remote work capabilities even after stay at home orders are lifted. To do this safely, they must prioritize securing data in any app, any device, anywhere in the world.”
Another worrying aspect of the study was that 63% of respondents believed remote working would impact their compliance with regulatory mandates, with 50% citing GDPR specifically.
The US National Security Agency (NSA) has released a new alert warning that Russian state hackers have been exploiting a vulnerability in Exim email servers for over nine months.
Exim is mail transfer agent (MTA) software developed by the University of Cambridge which is used on Unix-based operating systems. Bundled with many popular Linus distributions like Red Hat and Debian, it’s thought to run on millions of email servers globally.
However, the NSA warned that organizations which have failed to patch CVE-2019-10149, which was fixed in June 2019, may be at risk of attack from the infamous Sandworm group.
“The actors exploited victims using Exim software on their public facing MTAs by sending a command in the ‘MAIL FROM’ field of an SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) message,” the advisory stated.
“An unauthenticated remote attacker can send a specially crafted email to execute commands with root privileges allowing the attacker to install programs, modify data, and create new accounts.”
Specifically, when CVE-2019-10149 is exploited by Sandworm, the targeted machine downloads and executes and shell script from a domain under the group’s control. This script will in turn attempt to: add privileged users, disable network security settings, update SSH configuration to enable additional remote access and execute an additional script to enable follow-on exploitation.
The NSA urged organizations to upgrade their Exim installations to 4.93 or newer, and use network-based security appliances to detect and/or block CVE-2019-10149 exploit attempts.
Staffed by operatives from the Russian GRU (military intelligence) Main Center for Special Technologies (GTsST), field post number 74455, Sandworm is known to be one of the most sophisticated state hacking outfits around.
It has been widely linked to the BlackEnergy malware used in attacks on Ukrainian power stations in 2015 and 2016, which caused major outages during winter, as well as campaigns against NATO members and European governments in 2019.
Microsoft has warned of a new type of data stealing Java-based ransomware, dubbed PonyFinal.
PonyFinal is what Microsoft describes as “human-operated ransomware” — to distinguish it from commoditized variants that are distributed in an automated way by hackers.
The tech giant’s Security Intelligence group revealed in a series of tweets this week that the first stage involves access to a targeted organization via brute force attacks against the systems management server.
A VBScript is deployed to run a PowerShell reverse shell which enables data exfiltration to a C&C server over Port 80. The attackers also deploy a remote manipulator system to bypass event logging.
“In certain cases, the attackers deploy Java Runtime Environment (JRE), which the Java-based PonyFinal ransomware needs to run. However, evidence suggests that attackers use information stolen from the systems management server to target endpoints with JRE already installed,” Microsoft continued.
Thus, if organizations already have JRE on their systems, they may be blind to any attack.
“The PonyFinal ransomware is delivered through an MSI file that contains two batch files and the ransomware payload,” Microsoft continued. “UVNC_Install.bat creates a scheduled task named 'Java Updater' and calls RunTask.bat, which runs the payload, PonyFinal.JAR.”
According to Microsoft, PonyFinal encrypts files at a specific date and time and, like similar “human-operated” ransomware attacks, it is likely that those wielding it will bide their time to wait for the most opportune moment to deploy the payload.
In the case of recent attacks on hospitals, that was in early April when many healthcare organizations were battling a peak of COVID-19 admissions.
Microsoft recommends that organizations reduce their attack surface by ensuring internet-facing assets are up-to-date with patches, especially VPNs and other remote access infrastructure, and conducting regular audits of misconfigurations and vulnerabilities.
For PonyFinal in particular it is recommended to scan for brute force activity.