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Entries in Computer (4)

Thursday
Oct272011

Loss of Life Possible in Major Cyber Attack, Warns Homeland Security

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Thursday that a major computer attack against critical U.S. infrastructure could result in a loss of life and massive economic damages.

“The network intrusion that shuts down the nation’s critical infrastructure … could cause loss of life but also a huge economic loss,” Napolitano said at a cybersecurity event sponsored by the Washington Post. “We’ve seen attempts on Wall Street, transportation systems, things of those sorts.”

Cybersecurity experts have long warned that hackers could target electrical grids and power plants, which could affect hospitals and water treatment plants.

Napolitano added that DHS offices had been probed in computer intrusions by hackers attempting to infiltrate the department’s systems. She declined, however, to comment on the details of the intrusions or specify if the intrusions had targeted her office.

Napolitano discussed a wide range of computer security issues at the event and urged Congress to push forward with cybersecurity legislation that the White House proposed in May. Napolitano said she hoped the legislation could gain strong bipartisan support.

“Cyber attacks are increasing in frequency, in complexity and in consequence,” Napolitano said. “In [fiscal year] 2011 alone, our U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, CERT, responded to more than 100,000 incident reports and released more than 5,000 actionable cybersecurity alerts and information products.”

Although the DHS secretary declined to address specific instances, there have been a slew of high-profile hacking intrusions in the past two years:

  • The FBI and U.S. Secret Service are investigating intrusions into computer systems run by NASDAQ-OMX, the parent company of the NASDAQ stock exchange, which were compromised last year.
  • Earlier this year RSA, the security division of the EMC Corp., suffered a computer intrusion that resulted in a breach of its firm’s intellectual property, Secure ID, which provides encrypted authentication services.
  • During 2009, groups in China were behind a highly sophisticated hacking of Google and more than 30 other companies that went undetected until January 2010.


“We are in a constant state of seeing activity against critical infrastructure,” said Greg Schaffer, DHS assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications, who also spoke at Thursday’s event.

U.S. officials believe that China had been behind many of the infiltrations; members of Congress have recently mentioned this, but diplomatic and security officials are more reluctant to attribute the infiltrations to China.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb012011

Husband Will Go to Trial in E-Snooping Case

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DETROIT) -- A Michigan man who faces felony charges for snooping through his then-wife's e-mails and discovering she was having an affair will go to trial, a judge ruled Monday.

Leon Walker, 33, faces a charge of felony misuse of a computer under a state hacking law after he read Clara Walker's e-mails without her permission on a laptop in their Rochester Hills home in 2009. He has said he suspected that she was cheating on him.

If convicted, Walker could face up to five years in prison. Walker's trial date is set for April 11.

It's a case that could set bold new boundaries in the murky area of privacy between a husband and a wife. This is Michigan's first criminal prosecution for snooping through a spouse's e-mails. So far, two Michigan judges have refused to toss out the potentially precedent-setting case.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan132011

Kama Sutra Malware Puts You in Position for Hack Attack

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Kama Sutra may help you score points in the bedroom, but a new PowerPoint file on the ancient guide to sex will only raise your chances of scoring something else: a rendezvous with computer hackers.

According to the security research firm Sophos, an illustration-heavy PowerPoint presentation demonstrating more than a dozen different sexual positions is actually a vicious piece of malware in disguise.

The file, called "Real kamasutra.pps.exe," masquarades as a legitimate PowerPoint deck. But as you click through slides describing various sexual positions, with such names as "The Frog," "Wheelbarrow," and "Lyons Stagecoach," your computer runs a program that lets hackers remotely control your computer.

Graham Clulely, a senior technology consultant at Sophos, said the malware was spotted for the first time earlier this week, but isn't particularly widespread.

"It's interesting, obviously, because of the rather old-school technique of trying to get you to click on the file by appealing to the cave man inside everybody," he said.

Once downloaded, he said the PowerPoint deck serves as a decoy while malware quietly installs itself in the computer. The malicious code gives hackers a backdoor to your PC, which they can they use to execute any number of unwanted tasks.

They could access your every computer file, watch your every key stroke, steal your passwords to online bank accounts and steal your identity.

"The ball is in the court of the hacker," he said.

Clulely said that while computer users may be well-schooled in the ways of computer security, they still often fall victim to techniques that use sex and money as bait.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Nov132010

Feds Target Computer 'Cookies,' 'Beacons' as Affront to Privacy

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The federal government is pushing on several fronts to limit those increasingly powerful tracking bugs -- so-called "cookies" or "beacons" -- that lurk on computers and follow consumers around the Internet. For all the brutal partisan fighting of recent months, there is a growing consensus in Washington that the web-monitoring cookies installed in people's computers by most commercial websites are a major problem. But to what extent the solution requires new laws and more regulation is an open question.

The Federal Trade Commission is reviewing one possible approach: creating something akin to the "Do Not Call" list for telemarketers that would let consumers choose to forbid companies from spying on their online movements. An FTC official said the agency was looking into "whether it's even doable technologically." That approach would require an act of Congress.

The Commerce Department is preparing to open another front, putting the finishing touches on a government-wide plan that would create a new Privacy Policy Office. As outlined in a speech last month by Assistant Secretary of Commerce Lawrence Strickling, the new office would bring Internet companies to the table with government agencies and privacy advocates to develop "voluntary but enforceable codes of conduct."

The White House already has created a new task force -- the Subcommittee on Privacy and Internet Policy -- with the stated goal "of fostering consensus in legislative, regulatory, and international Internet policy realms." The group will help implement the Commerce Department's plan that has been in the works for seven months.

But some privacy advocates question whether Commerce is committed to consumer protection.

"Having Commerce involved with the privacy issue is the digital fox running the data collection hen house," said Jeff Chester, CEO of the Center for Digital Democracy. "Commerce is not a pro-consumer agency. It works on behalf of business interests. I have real concerns about the direction Commerce wants to go."

Chester plans to meet soon with the new White House task force to share his view that the Federal Trade Commission should be the lead agency in the online privacy fight.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio