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A weekly roundup of news, trends and insights designed exclusively for security professionals. This publication is intended for security staff only.

In this issue — Apr 20, 2016

  • Former NSA Deputy Director Reflects on Snowden’s Legacy
  • Seriously? China Claims Victim Status on Cybercrim
  • Ministry of Defence Email Blunder Leaks Secret NATO Report
  • Feds: Exec Traded Info on Nukes for Cash in Chinese Spy Case
  • Pentagon Developing Pre-Launch Cyberattacks on Missiles
  • DHS Says Open Source Software Like Giving FBI Source Code to Mafia
  • Cyberattack Could Knock Out Huge Swath of Power Grid, Lawmakers Say
  • In New Spy Scandal, China May Be the Big Winner
  • Putting Cybersecurity Culture in the Spotlight
  • Chief Risk Officers Battle Rising Corporate Espionage

Former NSA Deputy Director Reflects on Snowden’s Legacy (Irari Report, 4/19/16)

In a recently produced video, Chris Inglis, the NSA Deputy Director on duty when Edward Snowden spied on NSA, discusses his opinions as to the damage caused by Snowden, Snowden’s motivations, and what organizations can learn to better protect themselves from the insider threat.

Inglis explains the damage done, lessons for other enterprises, the public’s “right to know” what the NSA is doing, and other issues. More

Seriously? China Claims Victim Status on Cybercrime (International Business Times, 4/18/16)

China has hit back against accusations that state-sponsored hackers aligned with its government are attempting to breach the computer networks of the U.S. military on a daily basis.  Via the state-run Xinhua News agency, China said such claims by U.S. officials are “self-serving rhetoric” designed to bolster military budgets.

“In the cyber space, China is a victim rather than a troublemaker,” claimed Xinhua News.  “It’s the United States that has an overwhelming edge in Internet technology, with the world’s biggest internet intelligence agency and a first-rate cyber army.  The so-called cyberattacks claimed by the United States may well be a farce directed by the superpower itself.” More

Ministry of Defence Email Blunder Leaks Secret NATO Report (4/18/16)

The UK’s Ministry of Defence has been left red-faced after an administrative error led to the accidental leak of a secret NATO document detailing ongoing military exercises.  The document, marked “NATO restricted” on every one of its 192 pages, was emailed to fishing and ferry operators at the end of March.

It apparently contains long lists of email addresses, phone numbers, and the location of military facilities as well as technical details related to the exercises including aircraft target areas, code decryption tables, authentication protocols, and radio jamming information.  Also listed are dozens of code words, call signs, and map coordinates. More


Feds: Exec Traded Info on Nukes for Cash in Chinese Spy Case (Knoxville News, 4/14/16)

An East Tennessean who served as a senior manager in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s nuclear program swapped information with one of China’s top nuclear power companies in exchange for cash, according to federal court records.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Knoxville recently announced an espionage conspiracy indictment against China General Nuclear Power, Chinese nuclear engineer Szuhsiung “Allen” Ho, and Ho’s firm, Energy Technology International.

Prosecutors said Ho conspired with the companies to lure nuclear experts in the U.S. into providing information to allow China to develop and produce nuclear material based on American technology and under the radar of the U.S. government. More

Pentagon Developing Pre-Launch Cyberattacks on Missiles (DC Free Beacon, 4/14/16)

The Pentagon is developing cyber and other electronic weapons to attack enemy missile systems prior to launch as part of a new high-technology defense initiative, senior Pentagon officials disclosed to Congress recently.  The use of non-kinetic attacks against missile system computers, their sensors, and other networks, along with other high-technology means to knock out missiles on the ground, is called “left-of-launch” defense, a reference to the location on a timeline of the process of shooting down missiles.

Few details were provided on the plans for non-kinetic missile defenses that Brian McKeon, the principal defense undersecretary for policy, said were “underway” as a result of a new security environment that includes plans to use large-salvo missile attacks and other means to defeat current missile defense.  Left-of-launch missile defense was raised in a 2014 memorandum warning that missile defense spending was “unsustainable” because of sharp defense cuts. More

DHS Says Open Source Software Like Giving FBI Source Code to Mafia (NextGov, 4/14/16)

The Homeland Security Department is advising against a proposed policy that would force agencies to make public 20% of their software code.  Supporters of that policy think it could cut government spending by allowing agencies to share custom­-developed code instead of getting third parties to redevelop it, and allow outside developers to spot­-check it for security flaws.

But publishing source code could also let attackers “construct highly targeted attacks against the software,” or “build­ malware directly into the source code, compile, then replace key software components,” DHS’s Office of the Chief Information Officer argued.  Gone wrong, open source code could be the equivalent of “Mafia having a copy of all FBI system code” or a “terrorist with access to air traffic control software.” More


Want to Safeguard Your Data? Look to People, Not Technology

Technology may be one aspect of information security, but the real challenge is managing the human side. It’s your people who are the first and best line of defense. Today there are more threats, more vulnerabilities, more portable storage devices, and there’s increased mobility.  That means educating employees about security is more difficult, demanding and necessary than ever before.

So, how do you make sure that your company’s information assets are protected? The first line of defense is employee awareness – the critical “humanware” component of your info security armor. NSI’s SECURITYsense awareness program gives employees the tools and information they need to make security second nature. Find out how this valuable resource can help protect your hard-earned reputation and ensure that your employees are part of the solution and not part of the problem. Click here for more information.


Cyberattack Could Knock Out Huge Swath of Power Grid, Lawmakers Say (CSO, 4/14/16)

The U.S. government is not prepared for a cyberattack on the electrical grid that takes out power over a large area for weeks, or even months.  A widespread, long-lasting power outage caused by a cyberattack may be unlikely, but the government needs to better plan for the possibility, Representative Lou Barletta, a Pennsylvania Republican, said last week.

With some experts worried that a coordinated cyberattack could lead to widespread power outages lasting for several months, the federal government should offer more help to state and local governments planning to deal with the aftermath, Barletta said during a hearing before a subcommittee of the House of Representatives Transformation and Infrastructure Committee. More

In New Spy Scandal, China May Be the Big Winner (Foreign Policy, 4/13/16)

The U.S. naval officer at the center of a burgeoning spy scandal may not have simply betrayed his country: He may have also helped China compromise Washington’s most-sophisticated tool for tracking Beijing’s submarines, ships, and planes.  The surveillance aircraft potentially exposed in the espionage case are America’s high-tech “eyes in the sky” in the western Pacific, the EP-3E Aries II and P-8A Poseidon, which are equipped with sensors and radar that allow them to scoop up the electronic communications of Chinese forces and monitor their movements.

The Aries, which has undergone significant upgrades in recent years, delivers “near real-time” signals intelligence and full motion video, according to the Navy.  The aircraft’s sensors and dish antennas—their range is classified—can pick up distant electronic communications, allowing the U.S. military to pick up on any possible threats and eavesdrop on foreign militaries. More

Putting Cybersecurity Culture in the Spotlight (GCN, 4/13/16)

Cybersecurity is about more than just protecting systems, especially when phishing is the hacker’s tool of choice for gaining access to networks.  For public- and private-sector security executives, the emphasis increasingly is on making sure their employees aren’t taking the bait on attacks.

That makes it important for organizations to constantly train both new and current employees on risk factors and actions that could open the door to an attack.  Companies and agencies must create a culture for employees to make the right decisions, according to retired Maj. Gen. Earl Matthews, the vice president of enterprise security solutions with Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s U.S. public sector group. “It’s about culture,” Matthews said recently.  Every organization has a different approach to cybersecurity, he noted, and a cyber-savvy culture “starts with leadership and how that leadership is being used from the top down.” More

Chief Risk Officers Battle Rising Corporate Espionage (CSO, 4/13/16)

A growing number of organizations are adding a new member to the C-suite—the chief risk officer (CRO)—and the rise of these executives is having a direct impact on the security programs at enterprises.  “Corporate espionage, terrorism, and cyberattacks are ratcheting up the need for senior executives who understand all aspects of risk management and security,” says Jeremy King, president of Benchmark Executive Search.

“Many companies are finally awakening to how destructive security breaches of all types can be—from physical damage and real costs to reputation loss and customer recovery,” King says.  “Previously siloed risk-management functions must be reinvented, strengthened, and funded more aggressively.” More