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Cyberattack | One Herald https://oneherald.com.au Tue, 01 Mar 2016 08:29:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.7.5 85715709 Utilities Cautioned About Potential for a Cyberattack After Ukraine’s https://oneherald.com.au/utilities-cautioned-about-potential-for-a-cyberattack-after-ukraines/ https://oneherald.com.au/utilities-cautioned-about-potential-for-a-cyberattack-after-ukraines/#respond Tue, 01 Mar 2016 08:29:22 +0000 http://oneherald.com.au/utilities-cautioned-about-potential-for-a-cyberattack-after-ukraines/ WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has warned the nation’s power companies, water suppliers and transportation networks that sophisticated cyberattack techniques used to bring down part of Ukraine’s power grid two months ago could easily be turned on them. After an extensive inquiry, American investigators concluded that the attack in Ukraine on Dec. 23 may well ...

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WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has warned the nation’s power companies, water suppliers and transportation networks that sophisticated cyberattack techniques used to bring down part of Ukraine’s power grid two months ago could easily be turned on them.

After an extensive inquiry, American investigators concluded that the attack in Ukraine on Dec. 23 may well have been the first power blackout triggered by a cyberattack — a circumstance many have long predicted. Working remotely, the attackers conducted “extensive reconnaissance” of the power system’s networks, stole the credentials of system operators and learned how to switch off the breakers, plunging more than 225,000 Ukrainians into darkness.

In interviews, American officials said they have not completed their inquiry into who was responsible for the attack. But Ukrainian officials have blamed the Russians, saying it was part of the effort to intimidate the country’s political leaders by showing they could switch off the lights at any time.

“They could be right,” said one senior administration official. “But so far we don’t have the complete evidence, and the attackers went to some lengths to hide their tracks.”

Even after it has reached a conclusion, the White House might decide not to name the attackers, just as it decided not to publicly blame China for the theft of 22 million security files from the Office of Personnel Management.

But American intelligence officials have been intensely focused on the likelihood that the attack was engineered by the Russian military, or “patriotic hackers” operating on their behalf, since the first reports of the December blackout. The officials have found it intriguing that the attack did not appear designed to shut down the entire country. “This appears to be message-sending,” said one senior administration official with access to the intelligence, who requested anonymity to discuss the ongoing inquiry.

Equally interesting to investigators was the technique used: The malware designed for the Ukrainian power grid was directed at “industrial control systems,” systems that act as the intermediary between computers and the switches that distribute electricity and guide trains as they speed down the track, the valves that control water supplies, and the machinery that mixes chemicals at factories.

The most famous such attack was the Stuxnet worm, which destroyed the centrifuges that enriched uranium at the Natanz nuclear site in Iran. But that is not an example often cited by American officials — largely because the attack was conducted by the United States and Israel, a fact American officials have never publicly acknowledged.

Experts in cybersecurity regard the Ukraine attack as a teaching moment, a chance to drive home to American firms the vulnerability of their own systems. “There’s never been an intentional cyberattack that has taken the electric grid down before,” said Robert M. Lee of the SANS Institute. Mr. Lee said that while it was still not possible to determine who conducted the attack — what is called “attribution” in the cyber industry — he noted that it was clearly designed to send a political message.

“It was large enough to get everyone’s attention,” he said, “and small enough not to prompt a major response.”

The warning issued last Thursday by the Department of Homeland Security provided the first detailed account of the Ukrainian attack, based on the findings of a series of government experts who traveled to Ukraine to gather evidence.

The attack described by the Homeland Security document was highly sophisticated. The attackers gained entry, it appears, by sending a series of “spearphishing” messages that led someone in Ukraine to unintentionally give them access. Once they had that, the attackers mapped the system, much as the North Koreans mapped Sony Entertainment’s computers before attacking them in the fall of 2014.

Then a series of cyberattacks were carefully coordinated to occur within 30 minutes of one another on Dec. 23. The “breakers” that disconnected power were operated “by multiple external humans” through secure communication channels. The hackers then wiped many of the systems clean using a form of malware aptly named “KillDisk” which erased files on the systems and disabled them. They wiped out the “human-machine interface” that enables operators of the electric system to run those systems — or get them back in service — from their computers.

For extra measure, the hackers even managed to disconnect backup power supplies, so that once the power failed, the computers could not turn them back on.

Investigators say that in the end, the Ukrainians may have been saved by the fact that their country relies on old technology and is still not as fully wired as many Western nations — meaning they were able to restore power by manually flipping old-style circuit breakers.

“The bad news for the United States is that we can’t do the same thing,” said Ted Koppel, the former ABC News anchor who published a best seller last year, entitled “Lights Out,” about the vulnerability of the American electric grid.

“We have 3,200 power companies, and we need a precise balance between the amount of electricity that is generated and the amount that is used,” he said. “And that can only be done over a system run on the Internet. The Ukrainians were lucky to have antiquated systems.”

The report from Homeland Security recommended a series of common-sense steps: Make sure that outsiders accessing power systems or other networks that operate vital infrastructure can monitor the system, but not change it; close “back doors” — system flaws that can give an intruder unauthorized access; have a contingency plan to shut down systems that have been infected, or invaded, by outsiders.

But all those systems make it harder for legitimate operators to use the Internet to keep vast systems operating, from a smartphone or laptop if necessary.

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]]> https://oneherald.com.au/utilities-cautioned-about-potential-for-a-cyberattack-after-ukraines/feed/ 0 26993 Group Claiming to Oppose ISIS Says It Committed Cyberattack on BBC https://oneherald.com.au/group-claiming-to-oppose-isis-says-it-committed-cyberattack-on-bbc/ https://oneherald.com.au/group-claiming-to-oppose-isis-says-it-committed-cyberattack-on-bbc/#respond Sat, 02 Jan 2016 21:01:37 +0000 http://oneherald.com.au/group-claiming-to-oppose-isis-says-it-committed-cyberattack-on-bbc/ LONDON — A group of computer hackers who say they want to disrupt the online activities of the Islamic State have claimed that they were behind a recent cyberattack on the British Broadcasting Corporation. They said the attack was intended as a test of their capabilities, according to messages sent to a BBC reporter Saturday. ...

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LONDON — A group of computer hackers who say they want to disrupt the online activities of the Islamic State have claimed that they were behind a recent cyberattack on the British Broadcasting Corporation. They said the attack was intended as a test of their capabilities, according to messages sent to a BBC reporter Saturday.

“It was only a test, we didn’t exactly plan to take it down for multiple hours,” the group, New World Hackers, said in a message to the BBC’s technology correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones, who posted the message on Twitter. “We realise sometimes what we do is not always the right choice, but without cyber hackers … who is there to fight off online terrorists?”

BBC digital services were shut for a few hours on Thursday in what it said was a “distributed denial of service” attack.

Such attacks typically disrupt sites by flooding servers with messages from multiple systems so they are overwhelmed.

A BBC spokeswoman said the broadcaster would not comment on the claim of responsibility.

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Prosecutors Announce More Charges in JPMorgan Cyberattack https://oneherald.com.au/prosecutors-announce-more-charges-in-jpmorgan-cyberattack/ https://oneherald.com.au/prosecutors-announce-more-charges-in-jpmorgan-cyberattack/#respond Tue, 10 Nov 2015 18:49:21 +0000 http://oneherald.com.au/prosecutors-announce-more-charges-in-jpmorgan-cyberattack/ Photo JPMorgan Chase confirmed that it was identified as “Victim 1” in a cyberattack indictment. Credit Mike Segar/Reuters Federal prosecutors in Manhattan on Tuesday announced additional criminal charges against three men accused of being part of a huge cyberattack against JPMorgan Chase, as well as other banks, brokers and financial information publishing companies. Gery Shalon, ...

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JPMorgan Chase confirmed that it was identified as “Victim 1” in a cyberattack indictment. Credit Mike Segar/Reuters

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan on Tuesday announced additional criminal charges against three men accused of being part of a huge cyberattack against JPMorgan Chase, as well as other banks, brokers and financial information publishing companies.

Gery Shalon, Joshua Aaron and Ziv Orenstein were charged with 23 counts related to wire and securities fraud as well as unlawful Internet gambling and securities market manipulation in a superseding indictment unsealed on Tuesday. An indictment this summer included 11 counts of wire and securities fraud and money laundering.

Mr. Shalon and Mr. Orenstein, both Israeli citizens, remain in custody awaiting extradition. Mr. Aaron, an American citizen, is believed to be in Russia. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has a wanted notice out for him “for his alleged involvement in a scheme to hack major American companies in order to acquire customer contact information.”

Prosecutors say the scheme lasted from 2007 to mid-2015, earning “hundreds of millions of dollars in illicit proceeds,” some of it hidden in Swiss accounts and other bank accounts. A news conference was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

A separate indictment on Tuesday outlined seven charges against Anthony Murgio, a Florida man previously accused of running an unlicensed Bitcoin exchange. He has been mentioned in connection with the JPMorgan hack.

JPMorgan confirmed on Tuesday that it was identified as “Victim 1” in the superseding indictment.

“We appreciate the strong partnership with law enforcement in bringing the criminals to justice,” the bank said in a statement. “As we did here, we continue to cooperate with law enforcement in fighting cybercrime.”

The hacking involved contact information and email addresses connected with 83 million JPMorgan customer accounts, though prosecutors said the attack also affected brokerage and financial firms based in Boston; Omaha, Neb.; New York; St. Louis; and Charlotte, N.C.

On Tuesday, E-Trade Financial, based in New York, said it was attacked in late 2013 and found no evidence that sensitive financial information had been compromised. It added that access may have been obtained to contact information for roughly 31,000 customers.

“Security is a top priority, and we focus a significant amount of time and energy to help keep our customers’ data and information safe and secure,” E-Trade said in a statement.

Fidelity, based in Boston, said, “We have confirmed with the F.B.I. that there is no indication that our customers were affected.”

JPMorgan has said it discovered the attack last year and blocked the hackers before they could get access to the most sensitive customer information.

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