Researchers Inject Computer Malware into DNA for the First Time

  In what seems to be an example of a futuristic blending of biological essence and machine logic, researchers at the University of Washington have demonstrated, for the first time, the ability to inject computer program malware into DNA sequencing.  The malware was then used to exploit various computer applications used in DNA sequencing.

After extensive analysis, key research findings include:

  • The ability to create adverse side-channel information leaks in several DNA sequencing technologies.
  • Bioinformatics applications used in DNA sequencing have information systems vulnerabilities, such as insecure function calls and buffer overflows, that allow an adversary to take control of the application or system.
  • Cybersecurity best practices are lacking in the computer coding and implementation of software applications used in the DNA processing.
  • Derivation of hypothetical DNA sequencing attack vectors with recommendations to mitigate potential attacks.

The findings suggest a need for increased cybersecurity awareness in the implementation of DNA sequencing technologies.

Bioinformatics applications are susceptibility to computer system vulnerabilities (such as the aforementioned buffer overflows) that are known to be the result of poor computer coding techniques.  For years other professional technology sectors (e.g., banking, energy, transportation) have made significant efforts to eliminated programming vulnerabilities that allow malware code execution in their computer systems.

Secure programming due diligence in the form of training, tools, and techniques are now required in the genome sequencing field where cyber attacks that once seemed too resource intensive and technically difficult for hacker to undertake are now a possibility.

The full detailed academic research paper is available at:

http://dnasec.cs.washington.edu/dnasec.pdf

Facebook Shut Down An Artificial Intelligence Program That Developed Its Own Language

  Deep learning uses neural networks to learn tasks that contain one or more hidden layers.  What is the nature of deep learning?  Is deep learning predictable?  More importantly, what are the consequences of deep learning in autonomous machines?  The link below, about an experiment at Facebook that took some unexpected turns, is a very interesting article that feeds into perceptions on either the benevolent or malevolent of artificial intelligence (AI).  Implementing AI raises questions of whether machine learning should be supervised by humans, partially supervised, or be completely autonomous.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/facebook-shut-down-an-artificial-intelligence-program-that-developed-its-own-language/ar-AAp1wzQ?li=AA4Zoy&ocid=spartanntp

The Annual Technology Vectors brief has been published by the AFCEA International Technology Committee

  The Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association (AFCEA) International Technology Committee has released an update of its annual presentation on current technology trends.

The briefing provides insights and expertise on emerging technology hot topics most relevant to Federal technology leaders and why these technologies require further scrutiny.

The technology vectors are featured in a concise knowledge base format and includes points of contact for questions and additional information.

Vector topics include elements and sub-elements surrounding cloud computing, smart/additive manufacturing, big data analytics, Apache Hadoop & Apache NiFi, advanced cybersecurity, quantum computing, and mobility/wireless communications.

The advanced cybersecurity areas include cyber supply chain anti-counterfeit measures, light-weight encryption for use in IoT devices, micro-segmentation protection capabilities in data centers, and artificial intelligence (AI) insertion for machine-to-machine security.

Requests for downloads of the presentation can be made at:

http://www.afcea.org/signal/resources/linkreq.cfm?id=114

Crafting a Cyber Defense Strategy beyond the Perimeter: as Cyber Espionage Exploits bypass Traditional Cyber Defenses

In a new chapter to cyber technology exploitation story, U.S. cybersecurity researchers at FireEye have discovered evidence of a stealthy attack vector on Internet traffic network routers that allows cyber espionage to go undetected.  This data extraction and redirection exploit has been observed internationally in the network devices of private industries and governments across multiple continents.  The attacks have been mainly directed at routers supplied by technology world-leader Cisco, but other network device manufacturers may be targeted as well.

The attacks use a highly sophisticated form of malicious software, dubbed “SYNful Knock.”  The malware replaces the basic operating system software controlling the routers.  SYNful Knock presents all the qualities of an advanced persistent threat (APT) as it is difficult to detect and remains in place even when devices are shut down and restarted.

Network routers are very good targets for the adversary because they usually operate outside the perimeter of traditional cyber defense tools (e.g., firewalls, anti-virus software, intrusion detection/protection systems, HBSS, etc.) used by organizations to safeguard data flows.  Controlling the router allows sensitive data to be selectively redirected to unintended destinations. .

Until now, routers were considered predominantly vulnerable to only DDoS attacks.  SYNFUL Knock represents a significant APT escalation in an adversary’s ability to exploit and defeat cyber devices, tools, and technology.

This implies when forming a cyber defense strategy an organization must think beyond traditional concepts of network perimeter defense.  A “strategy” that relies on technology alone is too much of a tactical approach and limited in its ability to defeat a sophisticated adversary.  This is why strategic planning that incorporates a maturating, long range view for protecting the network based on the components of Cyber ART – Attribution, Rules of action, and Trust relationships (discussed in my earlier post) is a better approach to strategy in the long run.   Cyber ART fosters leadership aptitudes of “adaptation & improvisation” – crucial abilities for senior decision makers to think above and beyond the limitations of traditional concepts of data protection.

Additional details on the SYNful Knock exploit may be found at:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/16/us-cybersecurity-routers-cisco-systems-idUSKCN0RF0N420150916

Strategic Cyber Espionage

Cyber criminals, suspected to be based in China, are targeting key elements of India’s critical information infrastructure with the “key strategic goal of collecting intelligence,” according to cyber security firm FireEye.

“The campaign’s attacks were also detected in April 2015, about one month ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first state visit to China,” the firm said.

FireEye posits the advanced persistent threat (APT) attack vector used spear-phishing emails containing Microsoft Word attachments headlining regional issues of interest and contained a malware script called WATERMAIN, which creates backdoors on infected machines.

More on the above article is available at:
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/48588597.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

Cybersecurity Strategy Needed for the Banking Industry

Even though cybersecurity has been recognized as a high priority among financial institutions, the results of a recent survey conducted at FICO’s Asia Pacific Chief Risk Officer (CRO) Forum revealed 64% of senior banking officials in the Asia Pacific region feel their institutions are not prepared for cyber threats.

Findings from the survey bear close correlation to trends identified in a 2014 PwC report that found cybercrime to be the second most prevalent economic crime within the financial sector.  This provides a clear indication within the banking industry – that can easily be extrapolated to other business sectors  – of the growing need for implementation of a cyber strategy framework to deal with computer network vulnerabilities, hacker threats, and attacks to customer data and critical information technology infrastructures.

Ideally, a comprehensive strategy should be scalability to the size of the organization, have defensive capabilities that mature over time, and incorporate three main elements – the means for assigning attack attribution, dynamic rules-of-action for impact mitigation, and established trust relationships for threat prevention and business recovery information sharing.

These concepts form the fundamentals of two in-depth methodologies I have developed entitled,  “Cyber Strategy Maturity Modeling” and “Cyber Strategic ART (Attribution, Rules, and Trust).”

Fiat-Chrysler recalls 1.4M Vehicles to Prevent Hacking

Fiat Chrysler has decided to recall about 1.4 million cars and trucks in the U.S. just days after two hackers detailed how they were able to take control of a Jeep Cherokee SUV over the Internet.

The company will update software to insulate the vehicles from being remotely controlled, and it implied that the hackers committed a crime, saying in a statement Friday that unauthorized remote manipulation of a vehicle is a criminal act.

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2015/07/24/fiat-chrysler-recalls-14m-vehicles-to-prevent-hacking/

Using the Internet to Remotely Control, then KIll Automobile Smart Technology

More news on wide=spectrum hacking and the vulnerabilities of smart technology use by the automotive industry and the growing sophistication of hackers in presented in a recent article in Fox News Online and Wired magazine.

“Fiat Chrysler last week quietly issued a software patch for critical security vulnerabilities related to its “Uconnect” vehicle-connectivity system. The vulnerabilities were dramatically detailed in a Wired story that was posted Tuesday.

Two “white hat” hackers remotely connected to a Jeep Cherokee as a reporter drove it down a Missouri freeway. They made the radio blast at full volume and turned on the windshield wipers, but also cut off the transmission as a truck approached and, later, disconnected the brakes, sending the Cherokee into a ditch.

Owners of 2013, 2014 and 2015 models of Chrysler vehicles can download the new software update onto a USB stick, which then can be plugged into the car. Chrysler dealers will also install the update for free…”

More all this story can be found at:

http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2015/07/21/patch-your-chrysler-vehicle-before-hackers-kill/?intcmp=features

and

http://www.wired.com/2015/07/hackers-remotely-kill-jeep-highway/

International Law Enforcement Ops Shut Down Darkode Malware Marketplace

“Investigators shut down an online marketplace where cybercriminals bought and sold hacked databases, malicious software and other products that could cripple or steal information from computer systems, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

More than 70 cybercriminals in the United States and 19 other countries are targets of the investigation, authorities said. Some of them have been charged, while others were the subject of search warrants because some countries require evidence to be seized before criminal charges can be filed, investigators said.

The site, called Darkode, was the largest-known English-language malware forum in the world, authorities said. Darkode is responsible for hundreds of millions in financial losses, the FBI said. The scale of the investigation, which involved 20 countries, was unprecedented…”

The full story is available at:

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_CYBERCRIMINAL_MARKETPLACE_NYOL-?SITE=NYSCH&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

FBI Offers $4.3 Million Reward for Cybercrime’s Most-Wanted!

Have you seen any of these men?  One of the first indications of bounty on the heads of cyber’s most-wanted group of individuals.  This really raises the awareness bar on activities in the cybercrime world; especially when law enforcement begins to put a face with a name.  See the photographs, charges, aliases, and the like of the most=wanted on the main FBI website.

https://www.fbi.gov/wanted/cyber/@@wanted-group-scroll-view

Read the detailed story on the Dark Reading site:

“Big prize still going to whomever can help find Gameover ZeuS mastermind.  The FBI’s updated Cyber Most Wanted List now includes 15 men (no women). The Bureau is still not offering monetary rewards for information leading to the arrests of five members of the People’s Republic of China’s People’s Liberation Army who remain on the list. However, they are offering bounties for most others, which add up to over $4.3 million…”

http://www.darkreading.com/vulnerabilities—threats/fbi-offering-$43-million-for-help-finding-cyber-most-wanted/d/d-id/1321181