Our weekly digest of the world's cyber security news.

2014 Commonwealth Games Credit: Flickr/Graham Campbell

By Harriet Ellis, Research Analyst and Administrative Assistant, Future Conflict and Cyber Security, and Samantha Hoffman, Research Consultant, Future Conflict and Cyber Security and Defence and Military Analysis.

GOVERNMENT

National law and policy

  • US National Security Agency (NSA) technical director Neal Ziring said information sharing between the public and private sectors should be improved, so that threat intelligence can be seen and acted on by a wider range of organisations.
  • Departing NSA Deputy Director Rick Ledgett confirmed the US Government allocates 90% of government spending on cyber to offensive efforts.
  • A report by Pricewaterhouse Coopers and BAE Systems exposed a systemic cyber espionage operation against managed service providers, attributed to China-based APT10. This campaign, which is alleged to have started in 2014, expanded in pace in 2016 and targets key industries in a variety of countries, including the US, France, India, Brazil and Japan. The organisations targeted for information collection have been identified by China as strategically important for economic growth.
  • Ukraine announced plans to set up a national cyber security centre, which will be supported by NATO expertise.
  • The International Association of Athletics Federations announced it had suffered a cyber attack that compromised medical records of athletes. The association stated that Russian hacking group APT28 was responsible for the attack.
  • Ghana will establish a national cyber security council and work to ratify the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime. The announcement was made at a workshop hosted by Ghana’s National Communications Authority in partnership with the Council of Europe and EU under the auspices of their joint international cybercrime capacity building agenda.
  • In Uganda, unregistered SIM cards were deactivated to prevent mobile-enabled cybercrime.
  • Singapore’s amended cybercrime legislation has passed in Parliament. The changes criminalise trading in stolen personal information, the buying and selling of malware that facilitates hacking, and cybercrimes emanating from overseas that cause ‘serious harm’ to Singapore.
  • Bangladesh’s Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has been advised that a night-time ban on Facebook for students is not feasible. The regulator instead recommended the implementation of parental control tools and privacy and security features, after a consensus emerged that a ban would harm business and Bangladesh’s digital agenda.
  • Portugal’s Annual Internal Security Report indicated that the Judiciary Police is critically understaffed and will struggle to deal with priorities areas, including cybercrime. 

International policy

  • Mark Warner, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, stated that Russia paid over 1,000 internet trolls to target swing states in the lead up to last November’s Presidential election.
  • Indonesia and France established bilateral cooperation on preventing terrorist use of the internet.
  • The European Commission is set to propose several new options that would give police access to encrypted data held by technology companies
  • Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean announced that Singapore and Indonesia are cooperating to tackle cyber threats.
  • In the Philippines, the US embassy is working with the Department of Justice, Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation to help prevent cybercrime.
  • South Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister stated that in the face of ongoing sanctions, North Korea is increasingly dependent on cybercrime to raise money to fund weapons programmes.
  • A NATO official suggested that Islamic State may turn to cybercrime to raise funds as their territory and tax base shrinks. 

Military

  • US Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) launched a cyber assessment tool, Command Cyber Operational Readiness Inspection, which evaluates the cyber vulnerability of Department of Defense missions.
  • Germany’s cyber command launched on 5 April. The new head of Cyber Command Ludwig Leinhos stated that German armed forces computers were attacked nearly 300,000 times in the first nine weeks of 2017.
  • The Indian army is testing indigenous software to protect military networks from espionage. The Bharat Operating System Solutions (BOSS) would also decrease India’s reliance on foreign technology.
  • Singapore announced that David Koh, currently  Deputy Secretary of Technology in the country’s Ministry of Defence, would lead Singapore’s new Defence Cyber Organisation when it launches later this year.
  • Islamic State’s website ‘Amaq’ was hit with malware that prompted visitors to download a remote-access tool with the capability to steal credentials, take screenshots and transfer files. Similar tactics have previously been used by the NSA, but it is unclear who is behind this attack. 

Private sector

  • Anonymous Cisco employees criticised the US Government for not notifying the company of vulnerabilities in its widely-used internet switches. Wikileaks’ Dark Matter release revealed that the switches were exploited by the CIA for eavesdropping. 

NATIONAL SECURITY

Government breaches

  • The Senate Intelligence Committee held a hearing on Russian interference, where Marco Rubio revealed that hackers with Russian IP addresses targeted his staff.Marco Rubio Credit: Flickr Gage Skidmore 630 230
  • Germany's Federal Office for Information Security stated that a January cyber attack against at least 10 German lawmakers was thwarted by defensive measures taken after the 2015 breach.
  • Wikileaks released a third batch of CIA tools, ‘Marble Framework’. The source code leaked details CIA tactics used hide information that would enable attribution, and security experts indicated that the leak may disrupt ongoing CIA operations and aid in the attribution of previous operations. 

Critical infrastructure

  • British security services warned UK airports and nuclear power plants that their electronic security systems are under threat from terrorists, who they believe have developed ways to plant explosives in laptops and mobile phones.
  • Cyber security firm Kaspersky released a report on Lazarus Group – a hacking group suspected to be linked to the North Korean government – detailing its highly sophisticated cyber campaign against financial institutions in a range of countries. 

Strategic investment

  • A US Trade Representative's list of trade barriers included Chinese efforts to transfer foreign technology to Chinese firms. 

DIGITAL RIGHTS

  • The Islamabad High Court has directed Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency to locate five bloggers who have been missing since January, when they were accused of posting blasphemous content. The court also pushed federal agencies to strengthen responses to online blasphemous content.
  • Chinese internet security company Qihoo 360 said 6.05 billion pieces of personal information were leaked in 2016, a 9.4% increase from 2015. 
  • In South Africa, State Security Agency minister David Mahlobo defended his recent prosopal to regulate social media content, stating that even if regulation could be seen to interfere with human rights, it was necessary to prevent cybercrime, defamation and child sexual exploitation. 
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