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Posts Tagged ‘Cyberwar’

Middle East Cyber War Timeline (Part VIII)

March 18, 2012 1 comment

This last week has seen some remarkable events an undoubtable revamp of data leaks inside the Middle East Cyberwar.

Not only the infamous 0xOmar, the initiator of the Middle East Cyber War, reappeared, leaking alleged secret data from some Israeli Virtual Israeli Air Force School websites; but also the Pakistani zCompany Hacking Crew has re-entered the scene unchaining the original weapon, that is the Credit Card leak. As a matter of fact ZHC published 5,166 records containing working credit cards, usernames, emails and addresses of individual supporters of the Zionist Organisation of UK & Ireland (zionist.org.uk).

On a different front, the massive defacements of websites all over the world in support of #OpFreePalestine continued. Under the label of the same operation, the Anonymous also “doxed” several companies and individuals on pastebin.

As far as the two main contenders (Iran and Israel) are concerned, the strategies seem quite different.

Iran has shown a cyber activity culminated in the alleged attack against the BBC Persian Service. For this nation, it is also important to notice its “cyber autarky”, maybe a choice forced by the embargo, that led to the creation of an internal email service, in contrast to the traditional Gmail, Yahoo, etc. This happens few weeks after the decision to develop an internal Antivirus.

On the opposite front, Israel keeps on its apparent cyber silence. Is it the prelude for the feared military action against Iran?

If you want to be constantly updated on the Middle East Cyber War, at this link you find the complete timeline. Also follow @paulsparrows on Twitter for the latest updates!

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Exclusive Infographic: All Cyber Attacks on Military Aviation and Aerospace Industry

February 22, 2012 2 comments

Cross Posted from TheAviationist.

2011 has been an annus horribilis for information security, and aviation has not been an exception to this rule: not only in 2011 the corporate networks of several aviation and aerospace industries have been targeted by digital storms (not a surprise in the so-called hackmageddon) but, above all, last year will be probably remembered for the unwelcome record of two alleged hacking events targeting drones (“alleged” because in the RQ-170 Sentinel downed in Iran episode, several doubts surround the theory according to which GPS hacking could have been the real cause of the crash landing).

But, if Information Security professionals are quite familiar with the idea that military contractors could be primary and preferred targets of the current Cyberwar, as the infographic on the left shows, realizing that malware can be used to target a drone is still considered an isolated episode, and even worse, the idea of a malware targeting, for instance, the multirole Joint Strike Fighter is still something hard to accept.

However, things are about change dramatically. And quickly.

The reason is simple: the latest military and civil airplanes are literally full of electronics, which play a primary role in managing avionics, onboard systems, flight surfaces, communcation equipment and armament.

For instance an F-22 Raptor owns about 1.7 millions od line of codes , an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter about 5.7 millions and a Boeing 787 Dreamliner about 6.5 millions. Everything with some built in code may be exploited, therefore, with plenty of code and much current and future vulnerabilities, one may not rule out a priori that these systems will be targeted with specific tailored or generic malware for Cyberwar, Cybercrime, or even hacktivism purposes.

Unfortunately it looks like the latter hypothesis is closer to reality since too often these systems are managed by standard Windows operating systems, and as a matter of fact a generic malware has proven to be capable to infect the most important U.S. robots flying in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, and Indian Ocean: Predator and Reaper Drones.

As a consequence, it should not be surprising, nor it is a coincidence, that McAfee, Sophos and Trend Micro, three leading players for Endpoint Security, consider the embedded systems as one of the main security concerns for 2012.

Making networks more secure (and personnel more educated) to prevent the leak of mission critical documents and costly project plans (as happened in at least a couple of circumstances) will not be aviation and aerospace industry’s information security challenge; the real challenge will be to embrace the security-by-design paradigm and make secure and malware-proof products ab initio.

While you wait to see if an endpoint security solution becomes available for an F-35, scroll down the image below and enjoy the list of aviation and aerospace related cyber attacks occurred since the very first hack targeting the F-35 Lightning II in 2009.

Of course aviation and aerospace industries are not the only targets for hackers and cybercriminals. So, if you want to have an idea of how fragile our data are inside the cyberspace, have a look at the timelines of the main Cyber Attacks in 2011 and 2012 (regularly updated) at hackmageddon.com. And follow @pausparrows on Twitter for the latest updates.

As usual the references are after the jump…

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Middle East Cyber War Timeline (Part 5)

February 19, 2012 1 comment

Click here for the Middle East Cyber War Master Index with the Complete Timeline.

This week of Cyber War on the Middle East front, has shown a slight change on the Cyber Conflict trend. For the first time since January, psyops have deserved a primary role, maybe on the wake of the video released by the Anonymous against Israel one week ago. Not only the Jerusalem Post calls the video into question, but also argues that it may have been forged by Iran, identifying a state sponsored impersonation behind the entry of Anonymous in this cyber war.

But this has not been the only psyops event as an alleged message from Mossad to the Anonymous has appeared on pastebin, whose beginning sounds like a dark warning: If you want to be a hero start with saving your own lives. Although there are many doubts on its truthfulness, it deserves a particular attention since outlines a new age on psyops, what I call “pastebin psyops”.

But a war is not made only of psyops, so this week has also seen more hostile actions, among which the most remarkable one has been the leak of 300,000 accounts from Israeli Ministry of Construction and Housing. This action had been preannounced by a wave of attacks on primary Israeli sites (which targeted also the PM site), and most of all, has been carried on by 0xOmar, the absolute initiator of this cyber conflict.

Palestine has been targeted as well, and it is really interesting to read under this perspective a statement by Ammar al-Ikir, the head of Paltel, the Palestinian telecommunications provider according to whom cyber attacks on Palestinian websites and internet servers have escalated since Palestine joined UNESCO.

On the Iranian front chronicle report of a failed cyber attacks againstPress TV, Iran’s English-language 24-hour news channel and most of all of a controversial statement by Gholam Reza Jalali, a senior Iranian military official in charge of head of the Iranian Cyber Intelligence, according to whom the country’s nuclear facilities have finally been made immune to cyber attacks. And it is not a coincidence that in this week Iran has kicked off the first national conference on Cyber Defense. A matter that deserves a special attention by Tehran because of the growing number of attacks on Iran’s cyber space by US and Israel. On the other hand, Israel did a similar move one month ago, at very early stage of the cyber conflict.

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Middle East Cyber War Timeline Part III

February 4, 2012 4 comments

Jan 22: Middle East Cyber War Timeline Part I

Jan 29: Middle East Cyber War Timeline Part II

Feb 12: Middle East Cyber War Timeline Part IV

The more  I look inside the Middle East Cyber War between Israel and the Arab Hackers, the more I realize that it follows exactly the same shape than the real conflict.

In particular this last week has seen a strong reduction of the cyber events between the involved parties, although it is not clear if this was due to stronger cyber defenses enforced, or it was rather a kind of “calm before the storm”.

Among the reported events I considered particularly meaningful the attack of InLightPress, a Palestinian news website, of whom I did not find any other report except the one quoted in the Infographic which comes from a Pro-Israeli Website (this is the reason why this event must be considered with the necessary caution). Maybe it is not directly related to the Middle East Cyber War, anyway it looks like this attack was not originated by Israeli hackers, but had rather been “commissioned” by the Palestinian Authority. In the real world political parties or movement have different wings (typically hawks and doves), it looks like this is true for the cyber world as well. On the other hand, some believe that also the attack carried on last week against the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, considered close to Pro-Palestinian movements, has an internal origin, that maybe explains the subsequent excuses by the alleged authors of the attack (BTW at the above link there is an interesting list of the hack published in pastebin by the Israeli Hackers).

Do you believe the descending trend of the cyber events will be confirmed in the next period, or it is rather a temporary cyber truce before the digital storm?

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Beware Of The Red Dragon

December 7, 2011 Leave a comment

I have dedicated several posts to NG-IPS, the next step of the evolution in network security (or better to say context security). I have pointed out that one of the main features of this kind of devices is the capability to enforce Location Based security services. Now it is time to make some practical examples indicating how Geo Protection features may be helpful and why they are needed in this troubled days.

Few days ago I had the opportunity to analyze the data collected from a network security equipment, placed at the perimeter of an important Italian customer, with IPS engine turned on and Geo Protection feature enabled. I show here a brief summary of the collected data, that span approximatively a thirty days period ranging from 1 to 27 November 2011.

As you may easily notice, collected data show Geo Protection events undoubtedly at number one with 713,117 occurences. The enforced Geo Protection Policy blocked traffic from and to several “bad countries”. Just try to Guess which country was detected by the Geo Protection Policy with the highest rate of attacks? The top attack source report contains the answer to this question, but if yoy want I can suggest you a quick hint: one of the countries which appeared in the unwelcomed list of Geo Protection Policy was just China.

The top 5 attack sources generated together nearly 150,000 events. I was not that surprised when I looked up the IP Addresses (which I did not explicitly report on the graph) and realized that all of them came from China. These addresses were blocked a priori by Geo Protection.

The tabular report is also more explicit: 9 out of  10 sources at the top for the number of attacks, came from China whilst 1 was shown to be an internal address (revealed to be a misconfigured device generating bogus events). Together the 9 top sources generated nearly 260,000 on a total of 800,000 events collected from nearly 90,000 addresses.

As far as the impacted services are concerned, traditional protocols ranked at the first positions of the chart with some strange occurrences (TCP/0 or UDP/0 that might mean malformed packets or also the attempt to exploit old attacks targeting security devices). It is worthwhile to notice the presence of the well-known TCP port 1433 (MS-SQL).

Of course the attempts to exploit Microsoft Ports and (maybe) to harvest the network were detected by the geo protection engine as shown in the following table.

While I was analysing these data I could not help but think to the recent post by Brian Kerbs suggesting that the same attack perpetrated against RSA targeted more than 760 other organizations (almost 20 percent of the current Fortune 100 companies were on the alleged list). The same post indicated that the location of 299 (on more than 300) command and control networks used in these attacks were located in China.

Besides some concern regarding the Chinese Cyber Strategy, the parallelism suggested me that Geo Protection might provide a valuable support for thwarting APTs or, more in general, for thwarting attacks phoning home to C&C Server located in “bad” countries, provided that Geo Protection Service Database is constantly updated. Unfortunately I am afraid that attackers will not take so long to learn and enforce some workarounds using (un)secure compromised C&C servers in “good” (i.e. not classified by the Geo Protection) countries. In any case Geo Protection cannot be considered the only cure, but at the end this is the reason why NG-IPS are capable to enforce different algorithms to provide a context base security model.

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Back to The Future of Stuxnet

October 19, 2011 4 comments

While the U.S. and U.K. are debating whether to use Cyberwarfare, someone, somewhere, has decided not to waste further time and has anticipated them, developing what appears to be a precursor of Stuxnet 2.0. In a blog post, Symantec explains how it came across the first samples of the malware thanks to a research lab with strong international connections, which, on October 14 2011, alerted the security firm to a sample that appeared to be very similar to Stuxnet.

The brand new threat has been dubbed “Duqu” [dyü-kyü] because it creates files with the file name prefix “~DQ”, and has been discovered in some computer systems located in the Old Continent. After receiving and analyzing the samples, Symantec has been able to confirm that parts of Duqu are nearly identical to Stuxnet, but with a completely different purpose.

Unlike its infamous predecessor Duqu does not target ICS but rather appears to be a RAT developed from the Stuxnet Source Code, whose main features may be summarized as follows (a detailed report is available here):

  • The executables [...] appear to have been developed since the last Stuxnet file was recovered.
  • The executables are designed to capture information such as keystrokes and system information.
  • Current analysis shows no code related to industrial control systems, exploits, or self-replication.
  • The executables have been found in a limited number of organizations, including those involved in the manufacturing of industrial control systems.
  • The exfiltrated data may be used to enable a future Stuxnet-like attack.
  • Two variants were recovered [...], the first recording of one of the binaries was on September 1, 2011. However, based on file compile times, attacks using these variants may have been conducted as early as December 2010.

Of course this event rises inevitably many security questions: although cyberwar is actually little more than a concept, cyber weapons are a consolidated reality, besides it is not clear if Duqu has been developed by the same authors of Stuxnet, or worst by someone else with access to the source code of the cyber biblical plague (and who knows how many other fingers in this moment will be coding new threats from the same source code).

Anyway one particular is really intriguing: only yesterday the DHS issued a Bulletin warning about Anonymous Threat to Industrial Control Systems (ICS), not event 24 hours after the statement a new (potential) threat for ICS appears in the wild… Only a coincidence?

Cyberwar, Il Quinto Dominio Della Guerra

September 24, 2011 1 comment

Le Cyberwar sono state definite il quinto dominio della guerra. Ma se doveste spiegare in parole semplici a cosa corrisponde una Cyberwar come la definireste? In queste slide divulgative, redatte in occasione di un convegno al quale sono stato invitato, ho cercato di inserire la mia personalissima risposta con gli esempi più famosi del 2011 e alcuni collegamenti, apparentemente improbabili, alla vita di tutti i giorni.

Le slide non sono tecniche e qualche purista storcerà sicuramente il naso. Per chi volesse approfondire tutto il materiale è reperibile all’interno del blog sotto i tag Stuxnet, RSA, e naturalmente all’interno del Master Index relativo agli attacchi informatici del 2011.

Visto il tempo (e lo spazio) a disposizione nelle slide non sono citati gli esempi di Operation Aurora e Shady RAT. Alla fine la sostanza non cambia: entrambi rimangono comunque esempi degni di nota (anche se il secondo è ancora argomento di controversia).

Per ulteriori dettagli sulle altre vittime illustri (Fondo Monetario, ONU, etc.) il punto di riferimento è sicuramente il Master Index.

Buona Lettura.

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