Insider Threat

The FBI says 70% of attackers originate from inside the organization (or is it 80%). So why do we all talk about hackers and Internet-bound attacks?

Engineering Elections

Engineering Elections

Did you vote in the last election? If not, you should have. If so, did it really count? I mean, literally, besides the aspect of consideration, did your ballot reach the total counter?

Many people who are part of a democracy and have this magical ‘right to vote’ (There is no amendment or part of the US constitution that directly states that Americans have the right to vote; only that you cannot be discriminated against via race or sex, and you must be at least 18 years of age. Look it up and you’ll see that it is only indirectly implied) probably question where their votes really go each and every time they leave the polls.

Furthermore, the most important question should be this: If election fraud is part of our elections, and we all know at least some part of it is, how can we prevent it? The simple answer is, we can’t. Electronic voting machines are a joke. Really, the security on these machines are inferior to the most common lock and key at the dollar store. Security on these ‘secure’ election devices is comparable a Windows 98 (SE!) box running ZoneAlarm (pro!).

Wouldn’t it be nice and convenient to be able to vote via the Internet, without ever having to leave your home? Sure it would be. Safe though? Not in this century. If you have Netflix or any other movie service, you should add this to your queue: Hacking Democracy. Watch it, learn it, believe it. Do not hesitate at all to think its real. ITS BEEN PROVEN! Not a believer? Just wait around our next big election — we’ll see who wins.

SCADA Security

SCADA Operator

I’ve been registered with the SCADA Security Mailing List for a while now, and I must say it is very informative and has some solid discussion about SCADA systems and security. If you are not familiar with what SCADA is, it stands for Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition. SCADA systems are generally used for controlling and maintaining public services and private sector systems such as but not limited to nuclear plants, environmental systems, industrial stations, etc. You can google for more information or check our SCADA’s Wikipedia Page.

Security has and also been a big issue with running SCADA systems, especially those connected and maintained over the internet, or really any kind of network. Firewalls and IDS’s can only do so much; the integrity of the applications must be a part of the solution, AND NOT COLLAPSE! There are also many books at amazon that deal with SCADA systems. Could the internal workings of outdated coding practices and weak security in the systems, that control our precious resources and way of life, prove to be insecure? You better believe it.

Wired network compromised during the Google developer conference in Israel

Calcalist reports that the wired network in a recent google developers conference in Israel was hacked during the conference. I haven’t seen that report anywhere else, but the reporter Dora Kishinevski is fairly level headed with little tendency for sensational stories so I’m marking it as probably true.

According to the article, google sent a follow up email to the participants and warned them the network was compromised. This is interesting first because the attack was on the wired and not wireless Internet, which is considerably harder to do without being caught, and second because it reminds us how insecure gmail is over compromised lines (as opposed to, for example, a corporate VPN). I’m willing to bet close to 100% of the participants used gmail while in the google conference.

The article also quotes google as writing “We recommend you change your password, just in case, to any site you visited using the wired connection”. Definitely.

That device on my work computer – was it there yesterday?

Bank robbers using remote control device to control the mouse cursor of bank employee have been jailed now, report the headlines.

We can’t expect that an ordinary worker will know if USB sticks, peripherals with Bluetooth enabled, innocent looking hardware keyloggers etc. connected to their desktop computers and even to laptops are malicious – and not installed by a local IT support.

This Swedish worker recognized an odd device connected to his workstation, but a target organization is not so lucky every time. ”Employee quickly pulled the plug, interrupting a transfer” ($7.9 million), but there was an extra cable which ended up under his desk.

It’s worth of mentioning that this remote control device had been installed to bank workstation during a previous break-in, during which nothing had been stolen from the building.

Therefore, the ways how we can protect against these threats are not so typical:

* Check the USB and PS/2 connectors of your workstations and servers several times a year
* Always check these connectors when a computer returns from being repaired
* Remember that visitors have a possibility to connect these devices often

Plan B

The Daily WTF has a good story that may sound a little too familiar to some:

How the aptly-named Super Hacker had managed to shut down the system remotely and provide a fix so quickly intrigued Kiefer. After poking around the network, he finally found the Python file that contained the Super Hacker’s fix:
#!usr/bin/python
# Paying someone $10 to pull a power cord for $3500
print “(C) [Name Removed] 2008.”

The moral of the story: when all else fails, use social engineering.

Remote-control device – the new gun of bank robbers

Bank robbers have found a very interesting technique.

From The Local article Police thwart remote-control bank heist:

Surprised last August to suddenly see his computer cursor moving on its own, the employee at the Knivsta branch of Swedbank, north of Stockholm, “discovered a cable connected to his computer linked to a remote control device fastened under his desk,” local police spokesman Christer Nordström told AFP.

The employee quickly pulled the plug, interrupting a transfer of several hundred million kronor, Nordström said.

And how they managed to install this remote-control device? According to the news sources during a break-in before the incident – no money had been stolen from the bank during a break-in.

A comment posted to Technocrat.net is pointing to another interesting case (from CIO Update article) confirmed as keylogger case:

The story is still developing but this is what we know: Thieves masquerading as cleaning staff with the help of a security guard installed hardware keystroke loggers on computers within the London branch of Sumitomo Mitsui, a huge Japanese bank.

These computers evidently belonged to help desk personnel.

Swedbank is the leading bank in Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania with more than 21,700 employees serving 9 million private and 480,000 corporate customers.

Statistics vs. Probability – Did POTRIPPER Cheat?

Over the past few days, some controversy arose about an online poker player at Absolute Poker supposedly playing while being able to see everyone’s hidden cards. These allegations turned out to be true, and attributed to an insider at AP hacking the system.

Before they were confirmed, however, a blogger claimed that the attacks were baseless, and that over time and enough participants, unlikely events are very likely to happen. I am exploring this claim, and putting up my own claim, saying that while the above statement is, in general, true, it does not apply to this particular case.

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