Entries in Cyber Attack (7)


FBI Arrests ‘Anonymous’ Member for Attack Against

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- The FBI arrested a member of the hacktivist group Anonymous Tuesday for allegedly launching a cyberattack on the website of heavy metal legend and KISS frontman Gene Simmons.

Simmons drew the ire of Anonymous members in October 2010, when he took part in an anti-piracy conference and called for a crackdown on file and music sharing on the Internet. Members of the group allegedly shut down his website,, with a distributed denial of service attack.

Distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) flood Internet sites and computer networks with requests for information and commands, making the networks and websites unavailable to computer users.

Anonymous member Kevin George Poe, allegedly one of the group who took part in the attack, was arrested Tuesday after being charged in an indictment with conspiracy and unauthorized impairment of a protected computer, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.

Poe, who lives in Connecticut, turned himself in to federal agents at the U.S. District Courthouse in Hartford for an initial appearance and was released on a personal recognizance bond.

Deirdre Murray, a lawyer with the federal defenders office who represented Poe, did not return a call for comment on the case Tuesday.

Poe is expected to appear at the federal court in Los Angeles at a later date.

Anonymous has been prolific in retaliating against individuals that they don’t agree with. In February, the group hit a U.S. computer security firm named HB Gary and targeted the CEO for allegedly claiming that the firm had infiltrated Anonymous and would disclose details about the group’s membership to the FBI.

Members of the group hacked the HBGary website, posting a message on the firm's website, allegedly downloaded thousands of emails and to top it off hijacked the CEO’s Twitter account where they posted obscene tweets along with his personal data including home address, Social Security number and telephone number.

Last month the group had pledged to name and expose members of the Zeta drug cartel in what they dubbed OpCartel.

Earlier this year, the FBI executed a series of search warrants around the country in relation to last year’s cyber attacks that targeted MasterCard, Visa and PayPal after the companies cut off financial donations to WikiLeaks following the website’s release of U.S. diplomatic cables.

The search warrants were executed in conjunction with arrests in the United Kingdom of five people who were accused of playing a role in what was dubbed “Operation Payback.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


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


U.S. Suspects Contaminated Foreign-Made Components Threaten Cyber Security

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- Some foreign-made computer components are being manufactured to make it easier to launch cyber attacks on U.S. companies and consumers, a security official at the the Department of Homeland Security said.

"I am aware of instances where that has happened," said Greg Schaffer, who is the Acting Deputy Undersecretary National Protection and Programs Director at the DHS.

Schaffer did not say where specifically these components are coming from or elaborate on how they could be manufactured in such a way as to facilitate a cyber attack.

But Schaffer's comment confirms that the U.S. government believes some electronics manufacturers have included parts in products that could make U.S. consumers and corporations more vulnerable to targeted cyber attacks.

A device tampered with prior to distribution or sale could act as a "Trojan horse" in the opening wave of an international cyberwar. Contaminated products could be used to jeopardize the entire network.

The admission by Schaffer came out Thursday after repeated questioning from Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on cyber threats.

Such attacks are difficult to detect and many go unnoticed. Cyber tactics have changed and many hackers just want to steal information without incident. Cyber thieves are going after personal information such as credit card numbers or target corporations and trade secrets.

Many in Congress have pointed to foreign governments as the source of many recent cyber attacks, although the administration has yet to call out any one nation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


LulzSec Claims Hack of Arizona Dept of Public Safety Computers

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) -- The group of hackers who has taken credit for cyber attacks against the U.S. Senate, CIA, Sony, and Nintendo added a new website to their list Thursday.

LulzSec claims it hacked into the Arizona Department of Public Safety's computers, gaining access to hundreds of emails, intelligence bulletins, and personal information, which the group leaked.

On its website, the group posted that it is "targeting AZDPS specifically because we are against SB1070 and the racial profiling anti-immigrant police state that is Arizona."

Among the documents leaked are nuclear threat briefings, threats against elected officials, and racial profiling reports.  The addresses, phone numbers, and names of public safety family members were also made public.

LulzSec says it plans to release more documents and information on a weekly basis.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Can't Handle Cyber Attack on Electric Grid, Say Lawmakers 

Comstock/Chad Baker/Ryan McVay(WASHINGTON) -- The United States is ill-prepared to deal with a cyber attack on the nation’s electric grid, one of the biggest national security threats facing the country today, lawmakers warned.

“The sobering reality is this vulnerability, if left unaddressed, could have grave, societal-altering consequences,” Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., testified before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Tuesday. “We face a menace that may represent the gravest short-term threat to the peace and security of the human family in the world today.”

Experiments by federal agencies in recent years have shown that cyber spies have intruded the U.S. electric system, and that it's increasingly susceptible to attacks by hackers and foreign governments.

The weakness in the system, some lawmakers argue, can also be exploited by terrorist groups like al Qaeda, which are advancing their technological capabilities.

Administration officials Tuesday admitted that nuclear reactors specifically are less secure than in the past, and smart grids -- new digital electricity networks that are being promoted around the country -- are more exposed than traditional systems. Because the new Internet-protocol-based systems utilize commercial software over the Internet, they make the system more vulnerable. Coordination between agencies is also lacking, some say.

Several bills have been introduced in Congress to tackle the issue, but none has made it to the president’s desk.

The GRID Act, introduced a year ago, aims to give FERC the authority to issue rules and procedures to protect the nation’s grid without prior notice or hearings. It would also expand the Energy secretary’s powers over such matters and require the Defense secretary to prepare a plan identifying emergency measures and procedures that would need to be taken in the case of a cyber attack. The president would have the authority to order and authorize immediate emergency measures without congressional approval.

The “pay-as-you-go” legislation wouldn’t cost taxpayers any money over the next ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Another related bill, the SHIELD Act, would make it a crime for a person to knowingly disseminate classified information related to U.S. intelligence activities.

Earlier this month, the White House released a more comprehensive cybersecurity plan calling for industries vulnerable to cyber attacks, like electricity, to create plans that would make their computer systems more secure.

The renewed warning by lawmakers came on the day The Wall Street Journal reported that the Pentagon would declare computer sabotage from another country an act of war. The story cited the Pentagon’s cyber strategy report, which is due to be released in a few weeks.

When asked about the story Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said, “A response to a cyber incident or attack on the U.S. would not necessarily be a cyber response...All appropriate actions would be on the table if we are attacked in cyber.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


DoD, Major Private Contractor Potentially Vulnerable in Cyber Attack

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A U.S. cyber-security company charged with protecting computers for the U.S. government and thousands of private clients has itself been the target of a successful hacking attack, potentially compromising the security of software used by the Department of Defense and major defense contractor Lockheed Martin.

While the U.S. government has been aware of the attack and working with the company on plugging the security breach for more than a week, according to sources familiar with the investigation, it was only Thursday that Massachusetts-based company RSA alerted the public. RSA, the security division of EMC, claims over 25,000 clients and 40 million users of its security token technology worldwide.

"Recently our security systems identified an extremely sophisticated cyber attack in progress being mounted against RSA," said executive chairman Arthur Coviello in a statement posted on the company's website and in a filing to the SEC notifying shareholders of an adverse event. "Our investigation also revealed that the attack resulted in certain information being extracted from RSA's systems. Some of that information is specifically related to RSA's SecurID two-factor authentication products."

In addition to the U.S. government, according to its website, RSA SecureID customers include major American corporations, healthcare institutions and charities, as well as banks and institutions that cater to high net worth individuals, like Rolls Royce and Bentley Motors. The state of Kansas is also listed as a SecureID customer.

"This is a very major security compromise that has possibly put at risk numerous sensitive government sites and private industry as well" said former U.S. National Security Advisor Richard Clarke, an ABC News consultant.

Coviello said while some information relating to RSA's token authentication system had been "extracted" by the intruders, RSA is "confident that the information extracted does not enable a successful direct attack on any of our RSA SecurID customers."

Sources familiar with the investigation tell ABC News the company and the U.S. government have been working quietly to try to determine the extent of the damage and to build a patch to plug the leak.

In its statement Thursday, the company described the attack as an "extremely sophisticated" APT (Advanced Persistent Threat) attack, which cyber-experts say sounds similar to a 2009 attack on Google suspected to come from Chinese hackers.

"These hackers are not kids sitting in basements having fun," said Larry Clinton, President of the Internet Security Alliance. "An APT threat comes from highly organized, highly sophisticated, well-funded thieves. There is some evidence that this is state sponsored, and some attacks have come from China."

A company spokesman would not comment on reports of a delay in alerting the public, but in his online statement RSA executive chairman Coviello said, "We took a variety of aggressive measures against the threat to protect our business and our customers, including further hardening of our IT infrastructure".

The company's statement said its investigation is continuing and it is working closely with "appropriate authorities."

The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


CIA Director Warns of Possible Cyber Threats

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) - Top U.S. intelligence officials have raised their concerns about the growing vulnerability of the United States to cyber-warfare threats and malicious computer activity that CIA Director Leon Panetta said “represents the battleground for the future."

Panetta, along with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, testified before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. “This threat is increasing in scope and scale, and its impact is difficult to overstate," Clapper told the committee.

Clapper said that according to industry estimates there are now roughly 60,000 new malicious computer programs that are identified each day. “Some of these are what we define as advanced persistent threats, which are difficult to detect and counter,” Clapper said.

“This is a real national security threat that we have to pay attention to. I know there are a lot of aspects to it," Director Panetta told the committee. "The Internet, the cyber-arena, is -- this is a vastly growing area of information that can be used and abused in a number of ways.”

Over the past several years, U.S. officials and computer security experts have faced a wide array of diverse and growing computer threats ranging from attempted infiltrations of Department of Defense Computers and high-profile companies being hacked, to the massive data breach and related cyber-attacks involving WikiLeaks.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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