Entries with tag us department of homeland security.

US Utility Is a Victim of Hackers

Hackers attacked the computer network of a US public utility, compromising its industrial-control-system network, according to a new report from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The utility—which the DHS’s Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team didn’t identify—fended off the brute-force attack and its operations were not affected, according to the report, which also stated that the utility was likely attacked previously. The disclosure of such an attack is rare. (Reuters)(CNN)

US Blocks Some Major Bitcoin Exchange Transactions

The US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has taken  legal action to stop the Dwolla online payment service from processing bitcoin virtual-currency transactions. Dwolla can now no longer send funds to Mt. Gox, the world’s largest bitcoin exchange. Some Bitcoin exchanges let users buy bitcoins with money transferred via Dwolla and then sell bitcoins with the proceeds transferred to them via Dwolla. In a warrant, DHS accused Mt. Gox of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. In its investigation, DHS said, it used an undercover informant who bought bitcoins using Dwolla and subsequently had them converted to dollars. In a statement posted on its Google+ account, Mt. Gox said “we have not been provided with a copy of the court order and/or warrant, and do not know its scope and/or the reasons for its issuance. Mt. Gox is investigating and will provide further reports when additional information becomes known.” (CNET)(Ars Technica)(The New York Post)(Mt. Gox)

Study: Quality of Open Source and Proprietary Software Exceeds Industry Standards

A new analysis of software integrity finds that the quality of both open source and proprietary software code surpasses industry quality standards. Coverity, a software-quality testing firm, conducted the analysis, based on code submitted to Coverity Scan, as it has been doing annually for the past seven years. The project originated in 2006 and was initially undertaken with the US Department of Homeland Security. Since then Coverity has analyzed almost 850 million lines of code from open source projects including Apache, Linux, and PHP and found an average defect density—defined as the number of defects found in every 1,000 lines of code—of 0.69. Coverity found that proprietary code’s defect density is 0.68. This is the second year both groups have had a defect density of less than 1.0, which is the industry standard, according to Coverity, which offered no additional details regarding the specific standard on which it bases the claim. (SlashDot)(Help Net Security)(Coverity Scan)

US-Canadian Government Create Interoperable Emergency Communications

International cooperation has resulted in the creation of a system both US and Canadian first responders and officials can use to exchange information during an emergency situation along their shared border. The Canada-US Enhance Resiliency Experiment (CAUSE)—demonstrating the ability to exchange information between local, state, provincial and national systems and software applications—was put to the test and worked effectively, according to officials. The suite of tools includes Virtual USA®, developed by the US Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, a library and widget made available to participating agencies that allows information to be shared across jurisdictions and borders in real time. CAUSE was tested using two scenarios -- a massive oil refinery fire in Saint John, NB, and a compressed natural gas truck explosion near  Calais, Maine. Dr. David Boyd, the lead of the US Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate said CAUSE “worked more effectively and rapidly than we had hoped. This is a tremendous milestone in tearing down the technological ‘tower of Babel’ along national borders.” The staged test involved officials from the Maine Emergency Management Agency, the Province of New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization, Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, the US Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Defence Research and Development Canada -- Centre for Security Science  and Public Safety Canada. CAUSE was created from the Joint US-Canada Beyond the Border Initiative signed by US President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in February 2011. (EurekAlert)(US Department of Homeland Security - Science and Technology @ EurekAlert)

Cyberattacks against US Infrastructure Are Increasingly Likely

Security experts predict that new cyberattacks against US targets may hit important infrastructure elements rather than corporate networks or other IT assets. Hackers could focus on remotely-controlled and –monitored infrastructure systems originally constructed without security considerations such as those for street lights, building security, sewers, oil-transport pipelines, prison security. DARPA is identifying and mapping security vulnerabilities in these systems. National Public Radio reports that “close to 200 cyberattacks on critical infrastructure” were reported to the US Department of Homeland Security in the past year. The Presidential Policy Directive on Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience, released 12 February, is designed to address such incidents, but critics say more definitive action is necessary. (NPR)(Politico)(International Affairs Review)

US Agency Monitors Social Media for Impending Pandemics

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as part of a year-long $3 million project, contracted with vendor Accenture to test technology designed to monitor open social networks for indications of possible pandemics. In announcing the project, Accenture said it wants to prove that social media can be analyzed for the early detection of public problems such as infectious-disease outbreaks or nuclear emergencies. Among the sites DHS will monitor include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and various blogs. The NextGov US-government news website reported that DHS has tracked social media previously “in the interest of public safety.” The discovery of this type of tracking has caused controversy and triggered legal action from the Electronic Privacy Information Center. (SlashDot)(NextGov)

Scientists Develop GPS-Spoofing Countermeasures

Cornell University researchers have demonstrated countermeasures designed to protect GPS-based devices from spoofing that could give hackers control of the systems. In a display that the US Department of Homeland Security sponsored, the scientists showed how GPS spoofing would work on a mini-helicopter and how they could prevent it. In a spoofing attack, which the researchers say is a growing threat, false GPS signals are transmitted to a device. The target receives them as authentic, enabling the hackers to gain control of the device. The scientists showed how they could detect and then counteract the spoofing.  They plan to patent their approach. (PhysOrg)(Cornell University)

US Report Claims Too Many Cyberattacks Aren’t Reported

The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC)—a US-based, nonprofit, public-policy think tank—has issued a report stating that too many cyberattacks in the United States go unreported. The lack of reporting causes a myriad of problems from the theft of intellectual property to compromised national security. The concerns that prevent organizations from divulging information about attacks range from reputation damage to loss of customers, as well as possible liabilities connected to divulging information, according to the BPC. The report found that the number of cyberattacks in the US is increasing along with financial losses resulting from them but that organizations openly sharing information about the incidents could improve the situation. Between October 2011 and February 2012, victims reported more than 50,000 cyberattacks on private and government networks to the US Department of Homeland Security. Of these, 86 targeted critical-infrastructure networks. (PhysOrg)(AFP)(The Bipartisan Policy Center)

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